For students, writing a good essay is one of the most challenging parts about getting through a class or course. You may understand the lessons and you may even have a few interesting ideas on related topics. The big problem is putting that knowledge and those ideas into written form. Even with enough writing practice, you might still struggle to improve your writing skills due to certain challenges.
So check out these 18 writing resources and tools that will help you write better essays and improve your overall writing skills. Make the most of these resources for writers to run a grammar check, develop a better writing style, improve your essay organization, and more.
To improve writing skills and style
These resources will get you engaged on a deeper level with your writing, while helping you identify common problems with your work and ways to correct them.
1: Hemingway Editor
One of the leading free writing tools, the Hemingway Editor helps you improve the readability of your essays. Besides pointing out common errors, this writing software will highlight lengthy and complex sentences that make your essay difficult to read and understand. It suggests simpler alternatives to complex words and phrases and counts your adverb and passive voice usage, letting you know when it’s too excessive.
The Hemingway Editor will also grade the readability of your essay based on complexity. Ideally, you should aim for Grade 6 or lower, but that’s not always possible especially for highly technical topics and college-level essays.
2: Online tutoring on Wyzant
If you want to learn how to become a better writer, why not learn it straight from the experts? Wyzant offers a valuable writing resource to improve your writing skills with the help of a writing tutor. You will get personalized training on how to become a better writer by working on your weaknesses and moving lessons at your pace.
Your personal writing tutor will help you learn the basics such as how to improve your grammar and avoid common English mistakes. They will also teach you essentials such as how to write a research paper, how to write a thesis statement, how to write an essay, and more.
3: Thesaurus.com Writing Tool
Even if you have the basics down pat, there’s another challenge in the form of word choice. To present an exceptional paper, you want to avoid using overused and common words. At the same time, you want to make sure that you don’t overcomplicate your writing with jargon and overly complex words. The Writing Tool from Thesaurus.com provides you with a solution to this dilemma.
Enter your essay into the tool and hover your cursor over the words you want to swap, and you’ll have the option to look up synonyms for them. This simplifies the process of swapping words with better alternatives to improve your writing.
4: Cliché Finder
Similarly, the Cliché Finder also provides you with an excellent writing resource to avoid overused phrases that can make your writing look weak. In addition, it’ll also provide you with suggestions to replace certain words with stronger alternatives.
5: OneLook Dictionary Search
This free writing tool has a comprehensive treasury that can fuel and inform your writing efforts. OneLook Dictionary Search allows you to find definitions for words, find words and phrases that begin with a certain phrase or letter combination, find words related to a certain word or phrase, and more. So if you ever get stuck somewhere, use this resource for writers to get the word suggestions you need.
6: Write Rhymes
If an assignment ever calls for a poem and you want to follow a certain rhyme scheme, there’s a good chance you’ll run out of ideas at some point. Use this free writing tool to find a rhyme for the words you want to use.
Writing resources for proofreading and grammar
Before submitting a research paper, essay, email, manuscript, or any other written document, it is important to carefully proofread it. These resources can help get your work into tip-top shape.
One of the best and most popular free writing tools, Grammarly automatically detects common grammatical errors and punctuation mistakes as you write. You can install the extension to your browser, Microsoft Office suite, or desktop and enable easy proofreading and editing. Plus, the Grammarly Keyboard is one of the best writing apps for iPad or iPhone, in case you regularly work on your tablet or mobile.
8: Grammar Girl – Quick and Dirty Tips
The Grammar Girl podcast is one of the best free resources for writers as it regularly highlights common grammatical mistakes, writing tips, commonly confused words, word history, and other grammar-related questions. For example, its past episodes have highlighted top grammar myths, discussed whether to use “canceled” or “cancelled,” and more.
9: Proofreading Tool
If you’re looking for a Grammarly alternative, this is another useful tool for proofreading and editing. Just copy-paste your essay into the tool and it will automatically analyze it for issues. The Proofreading Tool helps you detect passive voice issues, vague phrases, duplicate words, misspellings, punctuation errors, misused words, awkward phrases, and more. With these highly detailed results, this writing resource offers an excellent solution to improve your essay.
If Proofreading Tool doesn’t meet your needs, you also have the option to use Typely instead. Enter your text into the editor and the tool will give you a detailed report of all the issues it detected. In addition, it also gives you stats about your writing, which includes reading difficulty level, sentiment analysis, and reading time.
When you’re researching for your writing project, taking notes helps you concentrate and process information. In order to take the best notes (read: useful, easy-to-follow notes), you must understand your source materials. Just like listening and reading are interactive tasks, taking notes allows you to organize and stay focused.
Taking notes is crucial for students, as you need detailed and organized notes to write powerful research papers and essays. If you want to know how to take notes more effectively, it’s all about the tools you use. Evernote helps you take notes, add necessary attachments and resources, and organize them so you can easily find them again when you need them.
12: Notability – Ginger Labs
An excellent alternative to Evernote is Notability from Ginger Labs. This writing resource simplifies the process of taking notes and organizing them. It lets you create a note using a combination of handwriting, typing, and photos. It comes with built-in note-taking and sketching tools and lets you add and annotate PDFs.
Resources to help organize ideas
In your writing you need to make your ideas not only clear for yourself, but also for your readers. Organization is a matter of balancing your ideas, determining the most effective ways to relaying information, and how you convey it all to your readers.
13: Essay Outline Templates – Template Lab
One of the most challenging steps in essay writing is the part where you develop an essay outline. Of course, you might already have a fair idea of what you want to write but you’re not sure exactly how to turn those ideas into an outline. To make this process easier, Template Lab offers 30+ essay outline templates that you can use as examples.
With five types of essay outlines available for download, this is one of the most comprehensive essay writing resources for students.
14: Essay Shuffler
As difficult as it is to write an essay, what’s even more difficult is organizing it into a logical flow. Even if you’re following an outline, there’s a chance that some of your ideas may go all over the place as you write them. So make the most of Essay Shuffler in your essay organization efforts. This tool allows you to shuffle sentences between paragraphs so you can find a way to improve your writing flow and rearrange phrases that sound off.
15: Inspiration Maps
For those who need to build diagrams and create graphic organizers, Inspiration Maps is one of the best writing apps for iPad or iPhone. You can use it to create concept maps and process flows to organize your essay writing efforts and develop a logical visual outline for your essay. The drag and drop feature lets you shuffle and organize your ideas with ease.
Resources to enhance productivity
16: A Soft Murmur
It’s easy to get distracted and lose focus on your writing when there’s a lot of noise in your surroundings. Shut out the street sounds and loud construction noises with this productivity tool that lets you listen to ambient sounds. The best part is that you can customize the sounds you want to hear and control their intensity. You can choose to listen to waves crashing, wind blowing, fire crackling, crickets chirping, and more.
17: Calmly Writer
Calmly Writer is another writing resource that enhances productivity by minimizing distraction. If you find all the toolbars and menu options on your writing software too distracting, you’ll love the minimalist layout of this tool. You get to work on a solid black space with only a blinking cursor. You can also access the hidden menu button by moving the cursor to your left.
One of the easiest ways to get distracted from your writing projects is by spending time on entertainment websites and social media. Install the StayFocusd extension to your browser and limit the amount of time you spend on distracting websites. It lets you access them only for a certain amount of time and then blocks them for the rest of the day, allowing you to focus on writing your essay.
These are some of the best writing resources that will help students enhance their writing skills and knowledge as well as improve an existing piece of writing. Use the tools to guide your writing journey and the free learning resources to clarify any doubts or curiosities you might have. Most importantly, try working with a private writing tutor to address your unique weaknesses and improve your overall writing skills.