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50 Free Resources That Will Improve Your Writing Skills

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. Link

Ultimate Style: The Rules Of Writing
The web’s ultimate guide to grammar provides a database of topics and an easy-to-search A-Z list of common questions (via)


Use English Punctuation Correctly1
A quick and useful crash course in English punctuation.

An extensive electronic grammar course at the University of Ottawa’s Writing Centre.

Grammar Girl3
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 Skills5
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.

The Guide to Grammar and Writing6
An older, yet very useful site that will help you to improve your writing on word & sentence level, paragraph level and also essay & research paper level.


Paradigm Online Writing Assistant8
This site contains some useful articles that explain common grammar mistakes, basic punctuation, basic sentence concepts etc. Worth visiting and reading. The Learning Centre9 contains similar articles, but with more examples.

Jack Lynch’s Guide to Grammar and Style10
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 Guide11
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.


Technical Writing13
An extensive guidance on grammar and style for technical writing.

40+ Tips to Improve your Grammar and Punctuation14
“Purdue University maintains an online writing lab15 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 Link

Common Errors in English16
A collection of common errors in English, with detailed explanations and descriptions of each error.

AskOxford: Better Writing17
A very useful reference for classic errors and helpful hints with a terrible site navigation.


Dr. Grammar’s Frequently Asked Questions
Answers to common grammar questions related to English grammar, with examples and additional explanations.

English Grammar FAQ19
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 Link

Writer’s Digest20
Writer’s Digest offers information on writing better and getting published. The site also includes community forums, blogs and huge lists of resources for writers (via21)

Infoplease: General Writing Skills22
Various articles that aim to teach students how to write better.


The Elements of Style24
A freely available online version of the book “The Elements of Style” by William Strunk, Jr., the classic reference book.

Poynter Writing Tools25
A blog dedicated to writers and journalists. Poynter also provides Fifty Writing Tools: Quick List26, a collection of podcasts related to writing.


learning lab / writing skills28
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.

Using English29 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 Courses30
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 Link

Copywriting 101: An Introduction to Copywriting31
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 Well (Not available anymore)
“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 Sheet33
The ultimate cheat sheet with various Web copy resources that copywriters can use to lean the best writing tips and ideas. More copywriting cheat sheets34.

Headlines and Trigger Words Link

Common mistakes and errors Link

Writing tips from experts Link

Practical tips Link

5. Copywriting Blogs Link

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 Done66
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.

Darren Rowse’s blog helps bloggers to add income streams to their blogs – among other things, Darren also has hundreds of useful articles related to copy writing.


Men with Pens69
A regularly updated blog with useful tips for writers, freelancers and entrepreneurs.

Time to Write70
Jurgen Wolff’s tips, ideas, inspirations for writers and would-be writers and other creative people.

Daily Writing Posts71
“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.

“It can be difficult to hone one’s writing skills within this fast paced environment. Daily Writing Tips72 is a blog where you will find simple yet effective tips to improve your writing.”

Copywriting74 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: Writing76
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”.

Dumb Little Man77

The Copywriter Underground78
A copywriting blog by the freelance writer Tom Chandler.

Lifehack: Writing79
This collection of resources includes links to 30 posts on Lifehack that may help you to improve your writing skills.

6. Tools Link

OneLook Dictionary Search80
More than 13,5 million words in more than 1024 online dictionaries are indexed by the OneLook search engine. You can find, define, and translate words all at one site.

One Look Dictionary Search81

A fast, suggest-as-you-type dictionary which you can add to your Firefox search box or use in bookmarklet form (see this83 post) (via Lifehacker84).


Look up words to find their meanings and associations with other words and concepts. Produce diagrams reminiscent of a neural net. Learn how words associate.


Merriam Webster: Visual Dictionary88
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 Dictionary90
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 Checker
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: Spelljax91.


GNU Aspell92
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.


write rhymes95
As you write, hold the alt key and click on a word to find a rhyme for it.


This English conjugator will help you to determine how to use verbs in the proper tense.

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 Generator99 is an alternative tool: it gives you a quick analysis of number of word occurrences.

Advanced Text Analyzer100 (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 tool101.


Graviax Grammar Checker103
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 Link

50 Useful Open Source Resources For Writers and Writing Majors
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.

English Forums106
If you have a question related to English Grammar, join these forums to get advice from others who know the language better or can provide you with some related information.


The Ultimate Writing Productivity Resource108
A round-up of applications, services, resources, tools, posts and communities for writers and bloggers who want to improve their writing skills.

100 Useful Web Tools for Writers109
100 useful Web tools that will help you with your career, your sanity and your creativity whenever your write.

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Vitaly Friedman loves beautiful content and doesn’t like to give in easily. Vitaly is writer, speaker, author and editor-in-chief of Smashing Magazine. He runs responsive Web design workshops, online workshops and loves solving complex UX, front-end and performance problems in large companies. Get in touch.

  1. 1

    Great post. keep up the good work

  2. 2

    Thank you! Good work!

  3. 3

    Cool, Informative but Bore post.. :D

  4. 4

    Man this one is choc full of info. It’s going to take a while to fully digest it all.

  5. 5

    very useful for those of us who are not native english speakers

  6. 6

    Very good compilation about web writing and writing in general!

  7. 7

    Mohammad B. Irshid

    June 28, 2009 9:20 am

    Very nice guys, I would come again to read it more and more .

  8. 8

    brilliant, I do need to work my english a bit more :P

  9. 9

    Great collection.
    Does anyone know how to get some cool list for German-Writing?

    Thanks! :-)

  10. 10

    Fabulous post! This one is getting bookmarked, as I know that I will be coming back to it again and again. Not enough just for one read. You did a great job of compiling all this information for us. Thank you.

  11. 11

    Wordweb is the best one for me…its so easy to use..
    nice post!

  12. 12

    Nice resources…. i also use Wordweb for my personal checks.

    Dkumar M.

  13. 13

    This is fantastic, thanks for this post. Does anyone know of a writing course/lessons that is specific to writing online?
    -Thanks again

  14. 14

    This really is an amazing post. Just launched my blog today and will find so many of these articles useful. Thanks Smashing Mag.

  15. 16

    Thank you for addressing the most lacking skill on the Web today. This is a great collection of resources. However, it’s important to acknowledge that all the resources in the world mean nothing unless people are MOTIVATED to use them. If you are motivated, good for you! If you’re a motivated non-native English speaker, I salute you!

    If you’re part of the non-motivated lower-case generation, here’s a news flash. Once you have a blog or website, that makes you a journalist. As a journalist, if you don’t know the difference between “your” and “you’re,” or “its” and “it’s,” either get busy and learn or hire a real writer to edit your copy! I can hear it now: “whoa dude, r u saying i shud like hire a writer? like pay money??” Well, look at it this way. If you are willing to put out crap on your site or your blog (or just as bad, if you don’t even know it’s crap), how are you any different from the company that designs its own junky logo because it doesn’t know any better or is too cheap to pay a professional?

  16. 17

    You left out WhiteSmoke, probably the most popular writing software.

  17. 18

    Armig Esfahani

    June 28, 2009 10:29 pm

    great! thank you…

  18. 19

    Adelle Charles

    June 28, 2009 1:35 pm

    Awesome post & great resources! You left off Fuel Your Writing, an invaluable resource!
    Cheers! :)

  19. 20

    This is an excellent list – web designers and developers, nowadays, have to be able to write good copy. This is also useful – I feel like I end up writing reports, proposals, and documentation a lot more than in the past.

  20. 21

    Someone asked about “writing online courses”? wtf? writing is writing !! Take a notebook, a pen, and start to write.

    You NEVER learn to write reading “How To’s”. You must dedicate a lot of hours each day, read real books of real writers and, of course, be creative and self-critic. How could you learn to be creative or self-critic? It’s a pity, but if you are, you are. If not … :/ you aren’t. Creativity, and self-critic, can be trained, but it can’t be learned. Not creative people will be angry with this, but …

    John G: “It’s going to take a while to fully digest it all” … A while? years! Did you go to school? Your words looks like an automatic comment, as many other like “good post”, “thanks for share” or “great” …

    Thanks for your effort, Smashing Magazine. But as a experienced teacher, I’m sure that replacing the school tasks with recipes is a very big error. Talk about tools (software) to write would be appreciated by someone who likes to install all the stuff they read about, but that other stuff … I’m also sure that the real problem of the actual web is that everybody speak about everything, even if they haven’t any experience on it, trying to replace the logical path of learning and knowledge. Despite of the people comments I KNOW they won’t read about grammar more that 10 minutes (or 10 seconds) because they only look for tricks, recipes and the way of do things easy and fast. All those people who are really interested on writing will only read this post, and after that, they will try to forget, because they KNOW where to clear up their doubts.


    • 22

      Before I begin to comment on what you have said u-named, I will admit that I haven’t fully read this article, since I was skimming for websites that might prove useful to me in the future.

      I will say however, that I am rather disappointed to see such a malignant comment left for this article. What I find even more dismaying is that despite the fact that you say you are an experienced teacher your writing is not at a level that I would expect from an experienced teacher. I’m a teenager, yet I was able to pick out quite a few mistakes, most of which could have been corrected if you had bothered to proof read your reply.

      I’m currently writing a novel, and I have more than one hundred pages, and to be honest this article looks really promising for some of the grammar problems that have not been addressed in my English classes that would benefit my writing.

      Your comment is rather unnecessary, since this is more of a starting place for people who want to know more, not a set of instructions.

      Having said all this, I wish to point out some of the irksome mistakes you made and how you can fix them in the future so that you will not sound ignorant of the subject you are talking about.

      “Someone asked about “writing online courses”? wtf? writing is writing !! Take a notebook, a pen, and start to write.

      You NEVER learn to write reading “How To’s”. You must dedicate a lot of hours each day, read real books of real writers and, of course, be creative and (1)self-critic. How (2)could you learn to be creative or (3)self-critic? It’s a pity, but if you are, you are. If not … :/ you aren’t. Creativity, and (4)self-critic, (5)can be trained, but it can’t be learned. (6)Not creative people will be angry with this, but …

      John G: “It’s going to take a while to fully digest it all” … A while? years! Did you go to school? Your words (7)looks like an automatic comment, as many (8)other like “good post”, “thanks for share” or “great” …

      Thanks for your effort, Smashing Magazine. But as (9)a experienced teacher, I’m sure that (10)replacing the school tasks with recipes is a very big error. (11)Talk about tools (software) (12)to write would be appreciated by someone who likes to install all the (13)stuff they read about, but that other stuff … I’m also sure that the real problem of the (14)actual web is that (15)everybody speak about everything, even if they (16)haven’t any experience (17)on it, trying to replace the logical path of learning and knowledge. (18)Despite of the people comments I KNOW they won’t read about (19)grammar more that 10 minutes (or 10 seconds) because they only look for tricks, recipes and (20)the way of do things easy and fast. All those people who are really interested (21)on writing will only read this post, and after that, they will try (22)to forget, because they (23)KNOW where to clear up their doubts.


      1. I would suggest using self-critical
      2. can
      3. Same as number one
      4. I’d suggest: being self-critical
      5. I’d suggest: can be taught
      6. I’d suggest noncreative
      7. look
      8. others
      9. an
      10. To me this sounds awkward; I’d replace it with either ‘replacing school tasks’ or ‘replacing school lessons.’
      11. Talking
      12. For writing
      13. I’d suggest using things, because ‘stuff’ sounds too abstract and informal.
      14. Last time I checked, there was only one World Wide Web; the word actual is not needed to clarify your words.
      15. Everyone speaks
      16. Personally I would put ‘don’t have’ instead of haven’t, but this is more of a personal preference.
      17. I would suggest ‘with the subject’
      18. This is not grammatically correct, and I would suggest replacing it with either ‘despite people’s comments’ or ‘Despite what some people say in their comments.’
      19. ‘grammar for more’
      20. I would suggest using this instead: ‘a way to do things quickly and easily.’
      21. In
      22. I’d suggest ‘to forget it.’
      23. I don’t know what you mean by this.

      I am sorry if this seems harsh, but there are times when different opinions on the same topic can result in a more educated, unbiased view of the topic. I also realize that you will most likely not read this, but I’ll still leave this here, if not for you then for those that have been disheartened by your words.

      To the writers out there, keep doing what you love!

      • 23

        Thanks Lydia. I was feeling really discouraged by un-named’s comment and that perhaps I would never be able to improve my writing skills. I know that the internet is full of many different opinions and that I should examine each one critically; yet, as a person who is self-conscious about their writing I took her comment to heart. On the other hand, when I read your post, I’m sure that my sensitivity to this area of my life made me feel twice more encouraged than the self-assured writer. :D!!!
        p.s.Best wishes on your book!!!.


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