Peter John McLean

The Best Resources for Writing Academic Papers (Writing)

We all learned a bunch of formats in college and then left college and promptly forgot them. Well, at least I did. I write a lot of papers that need to be in APA format for various businesses and clients and found myself constantly scouring the Internet trying to figure out how to cite texts properly and make APA citations. So, it goes without saying that I made this resource for myself as much as anyone else.

I know now that I have several years of experience writing in APA and other formats for clients that no matter how many times you use it you won’t memorize everything just right. So it is really important to know where to look to find the answers. In fact, my CPA tells me that he knows basically nothing about accounting – he just knows where to look.

Academic Writing Resources

The Purdue Owl – This is without a doubt the most important resource in the universe when it comes to academic writing. I keep telling myself that when I have the free time I am just going to read it top to bottom and try to retain as much as possible, but I still haven’t had a chance to do that. Instead I refer to it constantly. I’ve seriously referred to it three times just this week, mostly to confirm my citations were correct for some obscure non print sources. The APA Guide alone is priceless for citing things, but the Owl is a lot more than that. It gives fantastic examples of concise writing (which is what you want) as well as other general writing advice and even has a Technical Writing section that taught me a lot. I would not be nearly as good at Academic or Technical Writing if it weren’t for The Owl.

Kathy’s Basic Guide to Essay Writing – For true masters of essay writing this will seem a little simplified, but for the rest of us it can be great. It’s simple, its concise, and it outlines the individual steps to actually writing an essay properly which is completely different from just writing something and calling it an essay. I like this resource, unlike The Purdue Owl you probably won’t find yourself referring to it at three o’clock in the morning when you’re under a deadline, but it’s an easy read that can help you improve your essay writing skills.

Guide to Grammar and Writing – There are a lot of guides to grammar on the Internet, there are also a lot of heavy books on grammar that you could use to throw your back out or maybe use to bludgeon an assailant – but they are useless for actually writing. They are organized for twentieth century pre-Google brains and are impassable by anyone who spent the last five years getting a Wikipedia education. You are better off using this guide to grammar and writing. It has everything listed simple and titled with terms that make sense to humans. You can refer to things at a word and sentence level or at a paragraph level. It is awesome. I really like using this source for grammar.

Citation Machine – This website renewed my faith in humanity. It’s the most brilliant use of programming I’ve yet to witness and, if you write academic papers, you’ll see why. Citation Machine lets you punch in all of the information regarding a source and get both the proper end citation as well as the in source citation without actually having to think or check any of the above resources. It’s fast and super efficient. If you spend any amount of time writing academic papers you can save yourself a lot of time by using this site.

Further Reading

You shouldn’t need anything more than the above links but if you absolutely want something made out of paper to read in your free time, here you go:

Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style – you have read this, right? It is one of the most important books you could read if you actually want to write well. It’s also really short and straightforward which is good.

If you need help with your paper, the fine folks at Academic Composition are happy to help you. They have the best prices on the Internet.