Below are aids to help you with your writing: Microsoft Word help; Writing Center at Louisiana Tech; online grammar, spelling, and usage checkers; and online citation resources and tools.
Writing Center at Louisiana Tech
Tech’s Writing Center (Wyly Tower Room 325) is an excellent resource for writers. Do not wait as appointment slots can quickly fill up. You can call 257-4477 to schedule an appointment or to ask a quick grammar question during business hours. Online classes can communicate via Skype. For more information, including hours of operation, visit <www.latech.edu/current-students/barc/writing-center/>.
Microsoft Word Help Online
In addition to searching YouTube or the Word help section in your Course Manual, the following sites are very useful. Remember, while the quality of ideas is important, technical writing also demands a high quality for how those ideas are communicated and that includes formatting documents correctly.
- Computer Hope at <https://www.computerhope.com/software/msword.htm>.
- Microsoft’s Support pages for Word at <https://support.office.com/en-US/Word>.
- Word for Dummies at <http://www.dummies.com/software/microsoft-office/word/>.
Online Grammar, Spelling, and Usage Checkers
They are feedback tools which identify some of the common sentence-level grammatical errors as well as spelling errors. Keep in mind no online style checker is perfect and you will get some false positives–so do not take their advice blindly. However, they can be quite helpful. All have free versions.
Free service from Proz.com. You can upload a PDF, DOCX, DOC or TXT file (maximum file size is 100 MB); for best results use DOCX.
Has a free plan as well as a Pro plan. It is cross-platform, can help with conciseness, as well as the usual spelling and grammar checks.
Need to create a free account to use, though you can sign in using your Google account.
Click on the “Write” button (top left-hand corner of the page), then clear the sample by clicking somewhere in the sample text, press CTRL+a to highlight all the text, and hit the delete key to delete. Next, type in, or pate, the text you want to check. Click on the “Edit” button when you are finished.
Nitpicker: an overly picky language style checker
Click on “Enter your text” to input the text you want checked. When finished, press the Analyze button.
ProWritingAid: Improve your writing
The online check is free; however, the Word, Google Docs, and other plugins are not.
The Writer’s Diet
Can check 100 to 1,000 words at a time. The Writer’s Diet test “identifies some of the sentence-level grammatical features that most frequently weigh down academic prose. It is not designed to judge the overall quality of your writing — or anyone else’s.”
Online Citation Resources and Tools
These resources and tools can help you create a correctly formatted citation. Be careful when copying and pasting as sometimes you can lose required formatting (for example, italicization vanishes, text color changes from black to gray, and citation no longer in hanging indent form).
Citing Articles in MLA Style (By EBSCO)
How to Cite Anything in MLA 8 (By EasyBib)
MLA Formatting and Style Guide (From Purdue’s OWL)
Son of Citation Machine
What Are The Differences Among Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing?
What Is Common Knowledge?
Common knowledge is when a phrase or an idea–such as a historical event, a fact, or an equation–is well-known among your peers (same field or industry).
Here are a few rules to help you decide:
- Can be found unattributed (not cited) in multiple major professional or academic sources (more than three).
- Found in a general reference book or dictionary.
- When in doubt: cite the source.
Remember: common knowledge in one field might not be common knowledge to another. Always keep in mind who is your audience.
A Common Knowledge quiz from Amherst College: <https://www.amherst.edu/campuslife/deanstudents/acadhonesty/quiz/comon>.