Or four websites and a very modest April Fool’s joke.

1. The Nuts and Bolts of College Writing
Michael Harvey’s site is perhaps the single most useful on-line resource for students who want to improve their writing. For Harvey, good writing is not reducible to zealous obedience to a handful of rules. Good writing is a matter of clarity, concision, and grace, key elements of what Harvey calls “the plain style.” His sample passages and suggested revisions will benefit any writer who gives them careful attention. The book “version” of this site, The Nuts and Bolts of College Writing (Hackett), is the best book for student-writers I know, far more useful than Eats, Shoots & Leaves and similar titles.

2. A Demonstration of the Futility of Using Microsoft Word’s Spelling and Grammar Check
Sandeep Krishnamurthy’s conclusion is that Word’s spelling and grammar checker is “extraordinarily bad.” See for yourself by downloading and checking one of the sample .doc files, and then resolve never to let Word do your editing and proofreading for you.

3. The Citation Machine
The Landmark Project’s Citation Machine creates APA- and MLA-style citations for print and on-line materials. You need to be careful of course in choosing the right kind of citation and in entering the relevant information in the right places.

4. Arts & Letters Daily
Any writer needs good models, and they are not likely to be found in textbooks. Arts & Letters Daily, a service of The Chronicle of Higher Education, offers a handful of links a day to worthwhile articles, essays, and reviews.

5. Alt+F4
Just a reminder — when you’re writing, eliminate distractions. Close your browser and IM, and give the task at hand your full attention.

In May, I’ll turn over my guest spot to my daughter Rachel, who’s finishing her first year of college.


Michael Leddy teaches college English and has published widely as a poet and critic. He blogs at Orange Crate Art.

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