Digital Tools to Improve Your Papers
Writing assignments: love ‘em or hate ‘em, they end up being a huge part of your grade in many college classes. Whether you’re a strong writer or somewhat less confident in your abilities, these four tools can help you take your writing to the next level.
You’re familiar with spell check, but Microsoft Word’s squiggly green grammar lines leave something to be desired. Grammarly is here to save your paper. It’s highly reviewed and touted as the world’s most accurate grammar checker. It checks for 250 types of grammar mistakes and even picks up on contextual spelling errors (there/their/they’re) that spell check misses.
Best of all, Grammarly works wherever you do. Install free plugins into Chrome or Microsoft Office, or download the standalone app. This program improves your paper by fixing grammatical errors while simultaneously strengthening your skills as a writer, because it shows you the errors you are most prone to along with more suitable alternatives.
Writespace is an app for the easily distracted. It’s a no-frills, text only, full screen, offline compatible place to get stuff done. Writespace is ideal for rough drafts, brainstorming, basic lists and any other time that your main focus is getting words on the page without worrying about fonts, margins or pages at all.
You can use Writespace to develop an outline, get a draft finished or race to a deadline. Because all it does is hold plain text, you can use Writespace as a designated workspace for when you really don’t want to fall prey to distraction.
Aside from grammar, another major issue facing undergraduate writers is the struggle to structure a long paper. If you’re not 100% sure what a thesis statement has to contain, or you’ve thought a lot about your topic but don’t have a clear flow of ideas, using a thesis and outline generator can help you get the bones of your assignment in order.
This generator works brilliantly for five-paragraph persuasive essays, and does a good job of helping the writer organize their thoughts while also guiding them through the organizational process. This one is more detailed, which might make it better suited to longer papers or writers with already developed thoughts and subtopics.
Whenever you use an online generator, it is important to remember that your paper should ultimately fit every element of the assignment you were given. If your professor explicitly stated that your thesis statement must contain the word “pickles,” or that your essay has to be organized into specific sections, you can use the generators as a guide or to get ideas for transitions, but should adhere to the parameters of the assignment.
The problem with just searching Google for sources when writing a paper is that you really have to hunt to find information that is both reliable and fit to be cited in your paper. However, many schools use complicated or inaccessible databases, or searches don’t find very many full-text articles.
Google scholar is the solution to this dilemma: the searchability of Google combined with a data pool that meets your professors’ standards.
Don’t let writing assignments get you down, use them to make yourself a better student. Your GPA will thank you!