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Top 20 Online Tools for Academic Writing


The strict guidelines and high expectations associated with academic writing tend to intimidate even the most confident writers, so I've compiled this list of the top 20 online tools for academic writing. If you utilize the tools available through these 20 websites, you can approach academic writing with confidence.

  1. The Purdue Online Writing Lab features detailed guidelines and explanations to help you adhere to each particular style guide (such as AP, APA, MLA, and Chicago). If you need to cite sources in your academic writing, the Purdue Owl is an essential online academic tool. The Purdue Owl is thorough and organized, so you can find information and answer specific format questions quickly. The site even includes sample papers of each citation style so you can see formatting examples and how the citation guidelines apply to an actual paper.
  2. The University of North Carolina Writing Center is a comprehensive online writing resource that is available whether you attend UNC or not. UNC's Writing Center offers tutorials and tips that will answer all of your academic writing questions.
  3. Trello is a site that makes it easier to work with co-authors and collaborate as a team. You can create custom boards, assign tasks, and manage information on the easy-to-use visual platform.
  4. The Hemingway App uses artificial intelligence to analyze your text for run-on or complicated sentences, passive voice, and other habits that weaken your writing. The Hemingway App uses a color-coded system to highlight different issues and provides suggestions for how to reword the sentence.
  5. Marinara Time is perfect for anyone who struggles to stay on task. The Marinara Timer provides a customizable adaptation of the Pomodoro technique so you can choose work intervals and break times that work best for your schedule. If time management doesn't come naturally to you, the Marinara Timer is here to help.
  6. Trinka is an online grammar checking and language correction tool designed specifically for academic and technical writing. Flowery phrases that are suitable for an English 101 paper are inappropriate in formal academic writing, so Trinka will highlight phrases that are too casual or colloquial and provide suggestions for alternatives. Trinka offers both free and paid options to serve a variety of budgets.
  7. Readable is a free online tool that uses artificial intelligence to score the "readability" of your content. The site will also evaluate other aspects of your writing such as your average number of words per sentence and syllables per word, and it will assign you a Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level to identify your text's approximate grade level. You can just copy and paste your text onto their documents page, and it will generate a readability score for you. They only give you one free readability assessment, so use it wisely if you don't have the money to pay for their subscription service.
  8. Omni Calculator is ideal for academic writers who need a little external assistance with document planning and pacing. The Omni Calculator prompts you to enter your total word count and project's due date, and then it tells you how many words you need to write per day to stay on track. It calculates your average words per minute, keeps track of how much time you've spent writing, and estimates how long it will take you to finish the project. As long as you remember to use it, the Omni calculator is a useful tool for those of us who struggle with time management.
  9. Paper Panda is a free browser extension that gives you access to previous studies and academic papers that otherwise might be inaccessible. If you keep encountering paywalls that prevent you from reading relevant studies that you want to cite, check out Panda Paper.
  10. The Nuts & Bolts of College Writing is full of useful tips that are particularly tailored for academic writers. If you are looking for advice regarding clear and effective writing, look no further.
  11. OneLook is an online thesaurus that suggests alternate words when you just can't think of the exact word you want to use or you've used the word "evaluated" too many times and you're desperate for a good synonym. OneLook even lets you choose the part of speech that you're looking for so you can narrow your results.
  12. Phrase Bank is an online databank of phrases that are commonly used in academic papers and scientific journals. If you keep typing the phrase "for example," in your paper, visit Phrase Bank's Giving Examples page to find out what phrases other academic writers used. Phrase Bank offers suggestions for restating just about every part of a standard academic paper.
  13. Grammark is an online tool created by Mark Fullmer that will evaluate your writing for passive sentences, academic style, nominalizations, sentence variety, wordiness, transitions, and a few other issues. However, Grammark clearly states that it does not check for fragments/incomplete sentences, comma splices, tense shifts, subject-verb agreement, apostrophe errors, or idiotic ideas, so it should not be the only tool that you use to check for grammar and punctuation errors.
  14. Google Docs is a great online resource for collaborating with co-authors, and it also saves your work to the cloud so you won't have to worry about losing all of your hard work.
  15. Cambridge Rindge and Latin School Outline Maker provides an easy-to-use outline format to help you plan your academic paper and conceptualize your thesis. To generate your personalized outline, fill in the basic text boxes on this simple website and input your title, thesis statement, and your main points along with your supporting evidence for each point.
  16. Mendeley is a free reference manager that enables you to store all of your sources in one searchable place. Mendeley is available as a website add-on or as a downloadable reference manager to help you keep track of your sources as you write. The platform also provides space for you to record your thoughts, notes, and comments on the material.
  17. EasyBib will help you generate in-text citations and a references list. The citation generator will adhere to your specified format, but it will not recognize typos or misspellings if you type the information incorrectly, so it is essential that you review the citations to ensure that they are correct. Every time that I've worked with a client who used an online citation generator, I have found errors in the citations, so check yours carefully.
  18. Zotero is another free online citation generator that will help you organize your sources and cite them according to your specific citation style. As with any citation generator, make sure you proofread each citation and ensure that you've spelled names correctly and entered accurate years and page numbers.
  19. is an online recording and transcription tool that will transcribe scientific interviews, meetings, or focus groups so you don't have to. Otter's live recording and transcription services will make it easy to get accurate participant quotes and statements.
  20. XMind mind mapping tool is ideal for visual thinkers who organize their thoughts best with a mind map or visual web.
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