Best Free Writing Guides You Can Use

If you’ve ever picked up a pen and wrote on paper or sat at a desk and placed your hands on the keyboard then you’ve probably hit your road blocks and problems with writing. We all have them. Some more than most; others less than most, however if you have bad writing habits that persist like an itch you cannot seem to scratch away, you often need to seek an external source for help. If you like the resources left below to help you finally scratch away that bad writing itch, please share this article!


Paul Brian’s Common Errors in English Usage

We’ll begin with Paul Brian’s Common Errors in English Usage, which compliments his book with the same title. We want to first identify the errors that we are making, or challenges that we are facing so that we can overcome them. Brian’s page links to a very extensive list of errors in common usage, which is designed to help you understand the difference and proper use of certain words and common misunderstood terminology.

If you’re like most, who hold their writing more in a private light than out on public display, you’ll often times be faced with situations you cannot figure out and won’t have anyone to turn to since your writing is personal already and coming to them with a challenge you’ve been facing may be just that more humiliating. So your next best option is to just find what you need help with through these resources.

The University of Kansas Writing Center

This resource is more particularly geared towards the college student who is having a difficult time understanding or getting the format that their professors are requiring of them to write their papers. The KU Writing Center offers help with writing your thesis, academic essays, avoiding plagiarism and helping you understand the most effective and efficient writing process.

With their help and your lack of procrastination (yeah, the world knows college students like to put off their assignments until the last week, or sometimes night before they are due), you should find what you need to get you through those high standards the professors put in place before you.

Essay Mama’s Essay Writing Guide

This writing guide is all about the essay. It dissects the various elements of the Essay up and down, back and forth, start to finish. What stood out the most about this writing guide is that they dive into some of the psychology behind writing, whereas no other guide on this list gives the advice of “surprising yourself,” and “be passionate,” which are standout qualities a writer must have to progress in their writing and really achieve breakthroughs.

Other elements this writing guide helps you out with is avoiding plagiarism, learning how to navigate and find sources then how to take notes on the information you find in the sources. EssayMama puts emphasize on the planning and preparation of the essay, which is a top secret tip for some of the greatest essayists alive.  The planning and preparation of the essay leads back to focus of this writing guide, framing your ideas in a presentable and easy to understand manner.

Jack Lynch’s Guide to Grammar and Style

Similar to Paul Brian’s Common Errors in English Usage, Jack Lynch’s Guide to Grammar and Style are personal preferences about grammatical rules, style and suggestions on using both. Unlike Brian’s guide, Lynch does focus on the grammatical rules but not as they are taught in any textbook. He makes understanding sometimes confusing and difficult grammar lessons simpler.

The Writing Center at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

What I like the most about UNC’s writing center is that they tackle writing in a different light. They provide you with various dictionaries such as the Merriam Webster, the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, and the Phrasal Verb Dictionary. They provide you with language resources to help you understand how best to handle the writing situation that you’re dealing with.  Resources such as the Medical Word Morphology, the contemporary English corpus that consists of all 450 million words of the contemporary human language from 1990 – 2012, the word and phrase Corpus which goes hand in hand with the Contemporary English corpus.

The gist of the word and phrase Corpus is that you enter text that you’ve written (they ask you keep it to academic level English) and click search. If the radio button has word selected it gives you information about the words you’ve used, and if you have phrase selected it will allow you to handpick  words and see if it has any examples of that exact phrase in the Corpus. Furthermore, the UNC writing center has guides for writing abstracts, critiques, e-mail and e-mail etiquette, funding proposals, how to properly request feedback on your writing. These are very resourceful for highly academic writers and are suggested for only those writers. Otherwise you’ll be inundated with some of the complex resources you’ll find here.

St. Cloud State University and LEO: Literacy Education Online

LEO, or Literacy Education Online is a great resource for writers of all ages, but is targeted towards students but also have resources for writers who are experiencing issues with their business or technical writing, or writing in a business setting, writers who are job searching, writers whose native language isn’t English.

The most important part of this website, and what stands out the most with this resource than the others is the way that the resources are organized. The problems and issues are written in a way the common person would vocalize it to someone who they are requesting help from, for instance: “I’m having problems getting started,” followed by a list of six bullets, four with links to continued resources. More examples of this organization of the writing resources are as follows: “I’d like some tips for developing my ideas,” or “I want to improve the way my writing sounds” or “I want to make sure my ideas are logical.”

All of these guides are great resources but some highlight areas of writing that need attention better than others, some connect with the more commonplace writers at a more personable level, while some connect with the more colloquial writers on an academic level. Find what is best for you to help you get over those annoying writing issues you keep running into.

Author bio : Jessica Millis, an aspiring writer, savvy editor and JMU writing professor assistant. Her passion is writing, blogging and freelance journalism.
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