- June 28th, 2009
- 127 Comments
Effective writing skills are to a writer what petrol is to a car. Like the petrol and car relationship, without solid skills writers cannot move ahead. These skills don’t come overnight, and they require patience and determination. You have to work smart and hard to acquire them. Only with experience, you can enter the realm of effective, always-in-demand writers.
Of course, effective writing requires a good command of the language in which you write or want to write. Once you have that command, you need to learn some tips and tricks so that you can have an edge over others in this hard-to-succeed world of writers. There are some gifted writers, granted. But gifted writers also need to polish their skills frequently in order to stay ahead of competition and earn their livelihood.
We collected over 50 useful and practical tools and resources that will help you to improve your writing skills. You will find copywriting blogs, dictionaries, references, teaching classes, articles, tools as well as related articles from other blogs. Something is missing? Please let us know in the comments to this post!
1. Grammar, Punctuation & Co.
Mignon Fogarty’s quick and dirty tips for better writing. Grammar Girl provides short, friendly tips to improve your writing. Covering the grammar rules and word choice guidelines that can confound even the best writers, Grammar Girl makes complex grammar questions simple with memory tricks to help you recall and apply those troublesome grammar rules.
Better Writing Skills8
This site contains 26 short articles with writing tips about ampersands, punctuation, character spacing, apostrophes, semicolons and commas, difference between i.e. and e.g. etc.
Paradigm Online Writing Assistant12
This site contains some useful articles that explain common grammar mistakes, basic punctuation, basic sentence concepts etc. Worth visiting and reading. The Learning Centre13 contains similar articles, but with more examples.
Jack Lynch’s Guide to Grammar and Style14
These notes are a miscellany of grammatical rules and explanations, comments on style, and suggestions on usage put by Jack Lynch, an Associate Professor in the English department of the Newark campus of Rutgers University, for his classes.
English Style Guide15
This guide is based on the style book which is given to all journalists at The Economist. The site contains various hints on how to use metaphors, punctuation, figures, hyphens etc. Brief and precise.
40+ Tips to Improve your Grammar and Punctuation18
“Purdue University maintains an online writing lab19 and I spent some time digging through it. Originally the goal was to grab some good tips that would help me out at work and on this site, but there is simply too much not to share.”
2. Common mistakes and problems
English Grammar FAQ24
A list of common English language problems and how to solve them. This list was compiled through an extensive archive of postings to alt.usage.english by John Lawler, Linguistics, U. Michigan, Ann Arbor.
3. General Writing Skills
learning lab / writing skills33
This site offers over 20 .pdf-documents with main rules and common mistakes related to summarising, paraphrasing, referencing, sentences, paragraphs, linking words and business writing. Handy.
UsingEnglish.com provides a large collection of English as a Second Language (ESL) tools & resources for students, teachers, learners and academics. Browse our grammar glossary and references of irregular verbs, phrasal verbs and idioms, ESL forums, articles, teacher handouts and printables, and find useful links and information on English. Topics cover the spectrum of ESL, EFL, ESOL, and EAP subject areas.
Online Writing Courses35
Free courses are a great way to improve your writing skills. The courses shown here focus on several types of creative writing, including poetry, essay writing and fiction writing.
4. Practical Guides To Better Writing Skills
Copywriting 101: An Introduction to Copywriting36
This tutorial is designed to get you up and running with the basics of writing great copy in ten easy lessons. Afterwards, you’ll get recommendations for professional copywriting training, plus links to tutorials on SEO copywriting and writing killer headlines.
A Guide to Writing Well38
“This guide was mainly distilled from On Writing Well by William Zinsser and The Elements of Style by Strunk and White. Other sources are listed in the bibliography. My memory being stubborn and lazy, I compiled this so I could easily refresh myself on writing well. I hope it will also be helpful to others.”
Online Copywriting 101: The Ultimate Cheat Sheet39
The ultimate cheat sheet with various Web copy resources that copywriters can use to lean the best writing tips and ideas. More copywriting cheat sheets40.
Headlines and Trigger Words
- 50 Trigger Words and Phrases for Powerful Multimedia Content41
- 21 Traffic Triggers for Social Media Marketing42
- How To Write Magnetic Headlines43 (and even44 more45 headlines46)
- Passive Voice Is Redeemed For Web Headings47
- 5 Simple Ways to Open Your Blog Post With a Bang48
- Landing Page Tutorials and Case Studies49
- Copywriting for e-Commerce50
Common mistakes and errors
- 10 flagrant grammar mistakes that make you look stupid51
- The Seven Deadly Sins of Website Copy52
- Six Common Punctuation Errors that Bedevil Bloggers53
Writing tips from experts
- 10 Writing Tips from the Masters54
- George Orwell’s tips on better writing55
- Stephen King’s Top 7 Tips for Becoming a Better Writer56
- Ernest Hemingway’s Top 5 Tips for Writing Well57
- Writing hacks (hacks for writing)58 by Scott Berkun
- What Is Good Content?59
- 10 Steps Toward Better Writing60
- A Guide To Becoming A Better Writer: 15 Practical Tips61
- 10 simple things you can do to improve your writing62
- 7 Can’t-Miss Ways To Kick-Start The Writing Habit63
- 10 Writing Tips for Web Designers64
- Activate Your Verbs65
- How to Write Faster, Better, and Easier66
- Writing Tips for Non-Writers Who Don’t Want to Work at Writing67
- How to Write Persuasive Links68
- A Guide to Becoming a Better Writer: 15 Practical Tips69
- 21 Must-Read Tips To Write Better Web Content70
5. Copywriting Blogs
Now that blogging has become the smartest strategy for growing an authoritative web site, it’s your copywriting skills that will set you apart and help you succeed. And this is where Copyblogger comes into play. Brian Clark’s popular blog covers useful copywriting tips, guidelines and ideas.
Write to Done73
Leo Babuta’s blog about the craft and the art of writing. The blog covers many topics: journalism, blog writing, freelance writing, fiction, non-fiction, getting a book deal, the business of writing, the habit of writing. Updated twice weekly.
Daily Writing Posts78
“Whether you are an attorney, manager, student or blogger, writing skills are essential for your success. Considering the rise of the information age, they are even more important, as people are surrounded by e-mails, wikis, social networks and so on.
“Copywriting81 website is jam-packed with useful information, articles, resources and services geared to show you how to write mouth-watering, profit-generating copy. Copy that changes minds and dramatically boosts your results. So come right in… you’re going to like what you see! It has copywriting courses, tools, articles and much more.”
Dumb Little Man: Writing83
Jay White provides a handful of tips that may increase your productivity and improve your skills. You’ll find many tips and ideas for better writing in his archive category “Writing”.
Merriam Webster: Visual Dictionary95
The Visual Dictionary Online is an interactive dictionary with an innovative approach. From the image to the word and its definition, the Visual Dictionary Online is an all-in-one reference. Search the themes to quickly locate words, or find the meaning of a word by viewing the image it represents. What’s more, the Visual Dictionary Online helps you learn English in a visual and accessible way.
OneLook Reverse Dictionary97
OneLook’s reverse dictionary lets you describe a concept and get back a list of words and phrases related to that concept. Your description can be a few words, a sentence, a question, or even just a single word.
Online Spell Checker98
Free online spell checker that provides you with quick and accurate results for texts in 28 languages (German, English, Spanish, French, Russian, Italian, Portuguese etc.). An alternative tool: Spelljax99.
GNU Aspell is a Free and Open Source spell checker designed to eventually replace Ispell. It can either be used as a library or as an independent spell checker. Its main feature is that it does a superior job of suggesting possible replacements for a misspelled word than just about any other spell checker out there for the English language.
A one-click English thesaurus and dictionary for Windows that can look up words in almost any program. It works off-line, but can also look up words in web references such as the Wikipedia encyclopedia. Features of the free version include definitions and synonyms, proper nouns, 150 000 root words and 120 000 synonym sets.
Wordcounter ranks the most frequently used words in any given body of text. Use this to see what words you overuse or maybe just to find some keywords from a document. Text Statistics Generator108 is an alternative tool: it gives you a quick analysis of number of word occurrences.
Advanced Text Analyzer109 (requires registration)
This free tool analyzes texts, calculating the number of words, lexical density, words per sentence, character per word and the readability of the text as well as word analysis, phrase analysis and graded analysis. Useful! Alternative tool110.
Graviax Grammar Checker112
Grammar rules (XML files containing regular expressions) and grammar checker. Currently only for the English language, although it could be extended. Unit tests are built into the rules. Might form the basis of a grammar checker for OpenOffice.
Txt2tags is a document generator. It reads a text file with minimal markup as **bold** and //italic// and converts it to the formats HTML, LaTeX, MediaWiki, Google Code Wiki, DokuWiki, Plain text and more.
Markdown is a text-to-HTML conversion tool for web writers. Markdown allows you to write using an easy-to-read, easy-to-write plain text format, then convert it to structurally valid XHTML (or HTML). Requires Perl 5.6.0 or later.
7. Further Resources
50 Useful Open Source Resources For Writers and Writing Majors115
And if you’re a writing major, why not take advantage of all the opportunities to get great free and open source resources that can help you to write, edit and organize your work? Here’s a list of fifty open source tools that you can use to make your writing even better.
- 1 http://www.sparknotes.com/writing/style/
- 2 http://www.sparknotes.com/writing/style/
- 3 http://www.sparknotes.com/writing/style/
- 4 http://www.wikihow.com/Use-English-Punctuation-Correctly
- 5 http://www.uottawa.ca/academic/arts/writcent/hypergrammar/
- 6 http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/
- 7 http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/
- 8 http://www.betterwritingskills.com/writing-tips.html
- 9 http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/index.htm
- 10 http://www.uottawa.ca/academic/arts/writcent/hypergrammar/
- 11 http://www.writersblock.ca/tips/index.htm
- 12 http://www.powa.org
- 13 http://www.ncistudent.net/StudySkills/WritingSkills/Introduction.htm
- 14 http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~jlynch/Writing/
- 15 http://www.economist.com/research/StyleGuide/index.cfm
- 16 http://www.economist.com/research/StyleGuide/index.cfm
- 17 http://www.rbs0.com/tw.htm
- 18 http://www.dumblittleman.com/2006/12/40-tips-to-improve-your-grammar-and.html
- 19 http://owl.english.purdue.edu/
- 20 http://www.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/errors.html
- 21 http://www.askoxford.com/betterwriting/
- 22 http://www.askoxford.com/betterwriting/
- 23 http://www.drgrammar.org/faqs/
- 24 http://www-personal.umich.edu/~jlawler/aue/
- 25 http://www.writersdigest.com/GeneralMenu/
- 26 http://educhoices.org/articles/50_of_the_Best_Websites_for_Writers.html
- 27 http://www.infoplease.com/homework/writingskills1.html
- 28 http://www.infoplease.com/homework/writingskills1.html
- 29 http://www.bartleby.com/141/index.html
- 30 http://www.poynter.org/column.asp?id=78&switch=true
- 31 http://www.poynter.org/column.asp?id=78&aid=103943
- 32 http://www.poynter.org/column.asp?id=78&switch=true
- 33 http://www.dlsweb.rmit.edu.au/lsu/content/4_WritingSkills/00writingskills.htm
- 34 http://www.usingenglish.com/
- 35 http://diplomaguide.com/articles/Online_Creative_Writing_Courses_Offered_Free_by_Top_Universities_and_Educational_Websites.html
- 36 http://www.copyblogger.com/copywriting-101/
- 37 http://www.copyblogger.com/copywriting-101/
- 38 http://www.fireandknowledge.org/archives/2007/01/08/a-guide-to-writing-well/
- 39 http://www.copyblogger.com/copywriting-101/
- 40 http://www.grokdotcom.com/2007/11/13/copywriting-101-part-2/
- 41 http://www.copyblogger.com/trigger-words/
- 42 http://www.copyblogger.com/21-traffic-triggers-for-social-media-marketing/
- 43 http://www.copyblogger.com/magnetic-headlines/
- 44 http://trevorcrookblog.com/2008/05/21/8-different-types-of-headlines/
- 45 http://www.copyblogger.com/headline-swipe-file/
- 46 http://www.copyblogger.com/proven-headline-formulas/
- 47 http://www.useit.com/alertbox/passive-voice.html
- 48 http://www.copyblogger.com/5-simple-ways-to-open-your-blog-post-with-a-bang/
- 49 http://www.copyblogger.com/landing-pages/
- 50 http://thinkvitamin.com/features/biz/copywriting-for-ecommerce/
- 51 http://news.zdnet.co.uk/itmanagement/0,1000000308,39273376,00.htm
- 52 http://www.michelfortin.com/the-seven-deadly-sins-of-website-copy/
- 53 http://www.copyblogger.com/punctuation-mistakes/
- 54 http://www.pickthebrain.com/blog/art-of-writing/?
- 55 http://www.writingclasses.com/InformationPages/index.php/PageID/300
- 56 http://www.positivityblog.com/index.php/2007/10/08/stephen-kings-top-7-tips-for-becoming-a-better-writer/
- 57 http://www.copyblogger.com/ernest-hemingway-top-5-tips-for-writing-well/
- 58 http://www.scottberkun.com/essays/54-writing-hacks-part-1-starting/
- 59 http://www.doshdosh.com/what-is-good-content/
- 60 http://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/advice-for-students-10-steps-toward-better-writing.html
- 61 http://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/nine-tips-to-productive-revision.html
- 62 http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/10things/?p=421
- 63 http://freelancefolder.com/7-cant-miss-ways-to-kick-start-the-writing-habit/
- 64 http://www.webdesignerdepot.com/2009/02/10-writing-tips-for-web-designers/
- 65 http://www.grokdotcom.com/2007/05/09/activate-your-verbs/
- 66 http://www.pickthebrain.com/blog/how-to-write-faster-better-and-easier/
- 67 http://whatever.scalzi.com/2006/02/12/writing-tips-for-non-writers-who-dont-want-to-work-at-writing/
- 68 http://www.grokdotcom.com/2007/09/28/persuasive-links/
- 69 http://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/a-guide-to-becoming-a-better-writer-15-practical-tips.html
- 70 http://www.dumblittleman.com/2008/08/21-must-read-tips-to-write-better-web.html
- 71 http://www.copyblogger.com/
- 72 http://www.copyblogger.com/
- 73 http://writetodone.com/
- 74 http://www.problogger.net/archives/category/writing-content/
- 75 http://www.problogger.net/archives/category/writing-content/
- 76 http://menwithpens.ca/
- 77 http://www.timetowrite.blogs.com/
- 78 http://www.dailywritingtips.com/
- 79 http://www.dailywritingtips.com/
- 80 http://www.copywriting.com/
- 81 http://www.copywriting.com/
- 82 http://www.copywriting.com/
- 83 http://www.dumblittleman.com/search/label/Writing
- 84 http://www.dumblittleman.com/search/label/Writing
- 85 http://copywriterunderground.com/
- 86 http://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/the-ultimate-writing-productivity-resource.html
- 87 http://www.onelook.com
- 88 http://www.onelook.com
- 89 http://definr.com/
- 90 http://lifehacker.com/software/dictionary/instantly-translate-words-with-definr-326098.php
- 91 http://lifehacker.com/395368/best-online-language-tools-for-word-nerds
- 92 http://definr.com/
- 93 http://www.visuwords.com/
- 94 http://www.visuwords.com/
- 95 http://visual.merriam-webster.com/
- 96 http://visual.merriam-webster.com/
- 97 http://onelook.com/reverse-dictionary.shtml
- 98 http://orangoo.com/spell/
- 99 http://www.spelljax.com/
- 100 http://orangoo.com/spell/
- 101 http://aspell.net/
- 102 http://www.wordweb.co.uk/free/
- 103 http://www.wordweb.co.uk/free/
- 104 http://www.writerhymes.com/
- 105 http://www.writerhymes.com/
- 106 http://www.verbix.com/languages/english.shtml
- 107 http://www.wordcounter.com/
- 108 http://textstats.sourceforge.net/
- 109 http://www.usingenglish.com/members/text-analysis/
- 110 http://textalyser.net/
- 111 http://www.usingenglish.com/members/text-analysis/
- 112 http://sourceforge.net/projects/graviax
- 113 http://txt2tags.sourceforge.net/
- 114 http://daringfireball.net/projects/markdown/
- 115 http://www.jobprofiles.org/library/students/50_awesome_open_source_resources_for_online_writers.htm
- 116 http://www.englishforums.com/
- 117 http://www.englishforums.com/
- 118 http://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/the-ultimate-writing-productivity-resource.html
- 119 http://www.collegedegrees.com/blog/2008/06/11/100-useful-web-tools-for-writers/
- 120 http://oedb.org/library/features/150-writing-resources
- 121 http://www.onlinecourses.org/2009/06/09/100-awesome-open-source-tools-for-writers-journalists-and-bloggers/
- 122 http://educhoices.org/articles/50_of_the_Best_Websites_for_Writers.html