Writing Resources

Free Writing Tutorials/Courses

Utah State Open Courseware – “Introduction to Writing: Academic Prose”

  • Take a whole course on how to not suck at essays, free and at your own pace. A good summer project for students who are thinking about grad school.

Athabasca University – “Mobile ESL” (English as a Subsequent Language)

  • Free and designed for use on mobile devices, this course teaches English language skills for the workplace.

Online Writing Centres

Purdue OWL

  • Probably the most thorough and well-known online writing lab, they have a resource for just about anything you can think of.

Athabasca University Write Site

  • Designed for online learners, they have a thorough collection of writing resources.

University of Toronto Writing Centres

  • Their advice section contains a number of very helpful info sheets on different aspects of essay-writing.

The University of Wisconsin – Madison “The Writer’s Handbook”

  • Resources for writing research papers, as well as things like job applications, grad school applications, lab reports, etc.

SFU Student Learning Commons

  • Useful for teachers and for students, this site has a huge list of handouts for specific writing issues.

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English as a Subsequent Language

Athabasca University Concise ESL Support

  • Short, easy-to-read resources for English language-learners.

Purdue OWL ESL resources

  • Everything you could possibly need.

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Research Process

University of Michigan Library “Seven Steps of the Research Process”

  • Validating, because they’re largely the same as mine (but not as funny. Just saying).

Gallaudet University “Research Paper: The Process”

  • Has especially helpful diagrams for students working on choosing a topic.

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Using Sources

University of Leicester “What is Critical Writing?” 

  • Explains how to use writing style and evidence to make a persuasive case, rather than merely describing things.

Purdue OWL “Evaluation During Reading” 

  • Explains the steps students should take to understand and evaluate a source.

Indiana University Bloomington “Incorporating Evidence into Your Essay” 

  • Has examples of strong and weak uses of evidence and quotations.

University of New Orleans “Integrating Quotes and Paraphrases in Research Papers” 

  • Offers specific wording for different integration techniques.

RMIT University “Writing Skills: Synthesizing” 

  • Explains how to take notes in a way that helps you spot common themes among articles.

Walden University “Synthesis” 

  • Explains how to write about multiple authors as if they are having a conversation organized around themes, rather than writing about sources as a series of disconnected things that you read.

They Say/I Say “Templates for Writing About Research”

  • Fill-in-the-blanks sentences for introducing, comparing, contrasting, agreeing with or disagreeing with sources, as well as for adding your own ideas to the research dialogue.

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Critical Thinking

Walden University “Writing a Paper: Avoiding Logical Fallicies” 

  • Explains common argumentative biases and mistakes, as well as how to spot and avoid them in your own essay.

Walden University “Scholarly Voice: Avoiding Bias” 

  • Explains how to recognize prejudice and inequity in your research and writing, and how to correct these problems.

The Foundation for Critical Thinking “The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking” 

  • Explains the goals of critical thinking, the elements that make up thoughts, and how to use critical thinking tools.

UNSW Australia “Critical Thinking”

  • Has information about what critical thinking is, and also how to use critical thinking in research and essay writing.

Cengage Learning “Facts, Opinions and Assumptions” 

  • Describes the differences among facts, opinions and assumptions, and explains how each can be used in writing.

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Essay Structure

University of Toronto Writing Centre “Organizing an Essay”

  • Guidelines, an outline template and explanations of various methods for brainstorming and organizing ideas.

Purdue OWL “Four Main Components for Effective Outlines”

  • A farming awesome handout. Pair it with an outline template, and use the “four components” to fine-tune your points of argument.


Athabasca University Write Site “Writing Effective Paragraphs”

  • Detailed guidelines for writing different kinds of paragraphs for different purposes, including intros and conclusions.

Medium.com “How to Write Paragraphs”

  • A short and sweet set of pointers on how to write paragraphs that people can actually read.

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Sentences, Grammar and Punctuation

uOttawa – The Writing Centre “The Parts of the Sentence”

  • Learn the names for the different parts of a sentence. The subject and predicate (or verb) are the necessary parts to form a complete sentence, but most sentences contain additional components.

Purdue OWL “Mechanics”

  • Browse the resources here to find the specific problem you are having and how to fix it (including dangling modifiers, sentence clarity, fragments, and transitions.)

Lake Forest College “Sentences with Clarity and Style”

  • Includes information on how to write clear sentences for a variety of different purposes.

Hamilton College “The Five Comma Rules that Rule the World”

  • Follow these rules to improve the clarity of your writing.

Harvard College Writing Centre “Topic Sentences and Signposting”

  • Explains how to use particular kinds of sentences to introduce ideas in paragraphs and essay sections.

Harvard College Writing Centre “Transitioning: Beware of Velcro”

  • Gives direction on how to move smoothly from one idea to the next without sounding boring or condescending.

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Editing and Revising

Simon Fraser University “Top 10 Self-Help Editing Tips”

  • If a quick and dirty edit is all you have time for, use this checklist to catch your most common errors.

Purdue OWL “Proofreading”

  • Follow these steps to thoroughly revise, edit and proofread your paper. (Once again, I’m not just inflicting work on you. Taking the time to work through this process will substantially improve your writing.)

University of Toronto Writing Centres “Wordiness: Danger Signals and Ways to React”

  • Helps you to recognize common errors of excess or unnecessary words.

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Books About Writing

Any text that tells you how to write better is handy to have, but here are a few that I’ve found particularly useful for teaching about research and writing (although tbh I assign the Purdue OWL at least as often as chapters from textbooks).

Bennett, T., Grossberg, L., & Morris, M. (2005). New Keywords: A Revised Vocabulary of Culture and Society. Balckwell: Malden, MA.

Graff, G. & Birkenstein, C. (2010). They Say/I Say: The Moves that Matter in Academic Writing. W.W. Norton: New York.

Harvey, M. (2013). The Nuts and Bolts of College Writing. Hackett: Indianapolis.

Palmquist, M. (2010). Joining the Conversation: Writing in College and Beyond. Bedford/St. Martins: New York.

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