Being a student always means writing a lot. Even though we have progressed to typing instead of scribbling until we get a nerd bump (I still got one from all the note-taking), this doesn’t change the essence of studying. Luckily, our writing tools evolved as well, helping us put our best foot forward when creating content. There are thousands of them: optimizing our writing routines, auto-editing silly typos, sparking our creativity, saving our draft history, keeping us on track, and sending deadline reminders.
I have hand-picked each tool on this list specifically with students, their struggles, and unique challenges in mind. Of course, being in college, you want your apps to be free or at least budget-friendly, so I have focused on resources that are gratis, have a free option (along with the premium), or at least are the most affordable in the paid category or offer some freebie or other.
PaperHelp – The Best of the Custom Writing Tools Online
Okay, let’s be real. Sometimes you just need to hand that essay in on time – no matter what. No list of student online tools will ever be complete without a paper writing service, and no writing service is equal to PaperHelp. Write an essay from scratch in three hours? Prepare a literature review for your research project? Edit your draft to perfection? Come up with a thriller story for your creative writing class? These guys can do it all. Their range of services is seriously impressive, including business papers, CVs, speeches, PowerPoint presentations, and transcriptions.
Yet first and foremost, they cater to students – from high school to grad school. So if you need a customized sample of a descriptive essay, lab report, reflective analysis, or any kind of academic paper – this is the place to get it.
The prices depend heavily on the deadline, so you can save significant sums if you plan ahead. Plus, our readers get a special discount code for allowing them to save 11% additionally. Just add WRITEFORME in the “Promo Code” field before checking out. Note: this code only applies to your first order ($30 or above).
Evolution Writers is another essay writing service worth noting for its affordability. It’s less robust in its offerings than PaperHelp but has everything most students will ever need.
WowEssays – The Biggest Library of College Essay Examples
What if you need some inspiration for that argumentative essay? Customized samples are great, but we do love a freebie! That is why WowEssays has a special place in our hearts. This online resource is a safe haven for a broke student. It is a free essay database ranging from high school essays to Ph.D. dissertations. All papers are searchable by type, topic, or specific keywords. If you need to see some college essay samples about, say, cause and effect, you just open a respective category and read on. Plus, they host free writing tools, like grammar checker, spellchecker, title case converter, citation generator, and many more.
There is also a premium segment of their services. For instance, a paid essay database available by subscription is much, much more extensive – over 1,000,000 academic works. WOW, indeed!
Yet, things get even cooler. Suppose you were reading a particularly articulate sample and thought, “I wish this dude could write my essay!” Guess what? It’s totally possible. They do write custom samples, and you can request a specific writer to do the job! A little birdie also dropped me a hint that if you apply the WOWRESULT promo code at checkout, you will slash 11% off the price on your first order, so I honestly don’t know why you are still here.
Purdue OWL – All Instructions in One Place
As a student, you probably know that formatting can be a royal pain and a reason for an umpteenth grueling revision of your 45-page research paper. The exact manner of citing your sources or the way to apply a title case should not be such a big deal, but for some mysterious reason, it is. In academia, anyway.
If only there were a resource where all those wretched APAs, MLAs, and Chicago-freaking-Turabians, were explained in short, so you can just peek there when you forget something. Oh, wait… Such a thing exists, and it’s called Purdue University Online Writing Lab (affectionately dubbed Purdue OWL).
Head straight there whenever you need a refresher on how an APA title page should look or where to put commas when citing an article from a history journal. Sometimes it seems that Purdue OWL understands all the style guides better than their original authors – or at least explains them better.
COCA – Powerful Tools for Finding the Right Words
I bet you never heard of this thing, but it’s pure gold for anyone who wants to become a better writer. It’s a secret weapon known probably only to those who have studied linguistics. This thing will change your writing life, and it’s called COCA.
COCA is a corpus (not a corpse, don’t be gross). More precisely, it is The Corpus of Contemporary American English – an online library of texts (written or spoken). From academic research to recipe blogs, from classic works of literary fiction to celebrity interviews, COCA aims to represent the entire body of American English in all its glory and diversity. Why it’s a writing tool? I’m glad you asked!
As any linguistic corpus, COCA gives you a bird’s eye view of the entire language, which is excellent for linguistic research. However, it also provides an insight into how words are used across genres, demographics, and even different decades. Just type in the word or expression and see its frequency, popular context, time trends, and synonyms. This is an unparalleled tool to develop your vocabulary, always choose the right words for any audience, and be flexible and nuanced in the way you express yourself.
Evernote – The Best Writing Organizer for Big Projects
You probably know Evernote simply as a note-taking app, but that’s just the tip of an iceberg. In fact, this robust software suite is for organizing everything – from quick scribbles to big projects to your life. It’s a word processor, task manager, and planner wrapped in one. When you work on something beefier than your average essay, you start appreciating this versatility, which comes free (with several monthly limitations).
Synchronization across all your devices (be it iOS, Android, Windows, or Mac) allows you to work on that project whenever you have a minute, capturing and arranging any piece of information that seems relevant to your project. Snap a picture of a whiteboard during a class, bookmark a webpage you stumbled upon, jot down a clever thought that came to you during your morning commute, forward that email from your instructor to Evernote. Then, when you are ready to work, have it all at your fingertips and find anything you need fast!
Yet Evernote is great for keeping on top of many small tasks as well. I am sure overwhelmed students will greatly appreciate this. With all the due dates, reminders, and flags that can be created inside the notes, you will never forget about a paper again and will meet every deadline.
Scrivener – Versatile App for Writers of All Kinds
Scrivener was designed with authors in mind, but students will find it very handy too. It’s more than just an app – it’s a management system for research, ideas, concepts, notes, multimedia, and metadata. All you have to do is drag anything you need into the interface – et voila! This is a great help for the pre-writing stage of creativity and copious research.
Scrivener has flexible writing goals and outlining features that students struggling with procrastination will find particularly useful. Another brilliant thing is templates, allowing you to save time working on similar types of documents. There are templates for essays, fiction, comic books, and other creative writing if you are into it.
My personal favorite is the corkboard function for mind-mapping and brainstorming, which is a great way to organize your ideas, especially if you are a visual learner. It is also great for tricking yourself into writing when grappling with writer’s block. And yes, when you are done with the text in Scrivener, you can export it to a standard word processor of your choice.
Grammarly – The Best Editing and Revision Tool
Okay, now let’s say you have written your magnum opus using the tools described above. It’s perfect. Or is it? I bet there are some typos that you’ve missed or a couple of inappropriate colloquialisms that somehow found their way in your strictly formal thesis on the importance of style differentiation in communication. Oops! Or should we say, “How unfortunate!”?
Grammarly knows the answer. It is a free editing tool (with some premium features) that not only combs through your text in search of obvious mistakes but also gives you tips on improving it stylistically, making it more transparent, expressive, readable, and impactful. It highlights wordy sentences, repetitive passages, or terms that might not be the best fit for the context. Even better – Grammarly suggests solutions, and you can accept an improved version of a sentence in one click.
It is a very flexible tool that allows adjusting your writing goals, intended audience, formality level, and domain (academic, business, creative, casual, etc.) Next time, before you submit a paper, run your final draft through Grammarly and see it work its magic.