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Purdue Owl: How Helpful Is It?

Purdue Owl: How Helpful Is It? Purdue Owl: How Helpful Is It?

Are you a student struggling with academic papers and citation styles? Purdue Owl is the best writing lab to help you write the best academic papers and avoid plagiarism.

What is Purdue Owl?

The Purdue Owl (Online Writing Lab) is a part of the Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. They gather writing resources and instructional materials for students and teachers alike to aid them in writing projects.

Purdue Owl's mission is to help all their clients, writers or teachers, in their writing development or English language acquisition, no matter their skill level.

How can Purdue Owl Help You?


Purdue offers a variety of categories to guide the writers in need.
Each category has extensive subcategories to cover all the important topics a developing writer would benefit from.

We will take you through them all and tell you how they can be useful. Find a preview below:

General Writing

Purdue OWL provides several resources for general writing. Keep reading to know all about them.


The writing style is one of the main skills a developing writer should get acquainted with and master.

"Style refers to how someone expresses themselves in writing—in other words, what makes their writing sound like them."

The main foundations of style are diction and syntax. Purdue Owl explains these terms and describes for you how to make your own persona in writing, in addition to how to set the tone, mood, and pathos.

The Writing Process

The writing process supplies support in many areas such as:

  • Prewriting/brainstorming
  • Developing research questions and outlines
  • Composing thesis statements
  • Proofreading
  • Writer's block

Each subcategory also provides vast information, tips, and guides to help you in every way.

Academic Writing

This subsection is every college student's go-to page. It includes guides and details about every writing style you could encounter in college.

From establishing arguments, essay writing to public speaking and presentations, this section covers all the major topics that would aid students with their English skills.

Common Writing Assignments

This OWL section is dedicated to the common writing assignments a student might face.
Such assignments include:

  • Argument Papers
  • Research Papers
  • Research Posters
  • Exploratory Papers
  • Annotated Bibliographies
  • Book reports
  • Book reviews
  • Essays for exams


The mechanics' subsection can help you with sentence-level organizations and style. It includes resources on writing issues, sentence clarity, phrasal verbs, idioms, and parts of speech.

Each of these subcategories provides you with paragraph examples and clear instructions to develop an understanding of the matter.

Grammar and Punctuation

Students most times overlook these two subsections, but in fact, they could be the most important. Proper grammar and punctuation are quite essential to make your paper readable and graded with excellence.

The grammar part takes you through the most important basics that every student should be very familiar with. The same goes for the punctuation section, which focuses on comma usages, apostrophes, and different types of clauses.

Visual Rhetoric

This subsection is all about making your paper look professional. It teaches you visual document analysis, color theory, designing effective PowerPoint presentations, and producing visual rhetoric.

Presentation matters. Many students struggle with this issue; this section in Purdue OWL will give them an intensive understanding of great visuals.

Undergraduate Applications & Graduate School Applications

These two subsections provide advice to students on their school applications, in addition to guides on writing research proposals and requesting recommendation letters.

The advice from the admission officer's subsection can be quite insightful as you learn what admission officers want to hear in interviews or read in your curriculum vitae.

Personal Correspondence

Personal Correspondence is important when contacting college officials and writing your personal statements.

This section helps you do that as it provides you with the right opening salutations, closing statements, and good formatting ideas.

Community-Engaged Writing

This subsection helps you out in planning community partnerships, identifying engagement approaches and potential community partners. Despite how innovative a partnership can be, the way you approach its pitch is very important to sound professional and convincing.

Research and Citation

Conducting research and properly citing your references is not easy, especially when different papers require a specific citation style.

This section covers all the citation styles, and Purdue OWL provides you with sample papers for each one. Each sample paper has all the instructions and details you need to focus on when writing your paper, including font size, alignments, and format.

Doing thorough research and properly using it in your paper is very important. Unfortunately, many students are not familiar with paraphrasing and plagiarism implications. OWL resources accurately explain it all and provide you with citation generators and paper checkers.

The citation styles OWL explains are:

  • APA Style (7th edition)
  • MLA Style
  • Chicago Style
  • IEEE Style
  • AMA Style
  • ASA Style
  • APA Style (6th edition)

If you are not familiar with these citations styles and what they stand for, the style manual glossary subsection explains it all.

Avoiding Plagiarism

Plagiarism is every student's nightmare; it is a serious charge in academia, one you do not want to be found guilty of. Purdue OWL defines plagiarism as using someone else's ideas or words without giving them proper credit, whether it was intentional or not.

Their plagiarism section provides style guide overviews, frequently asked questions, plagiarism exercises, and great practices for teachers and writers.

Purdue's golden rule: When in doubt, just cite.


Teacher and Tutor Resources

As its name suggests, this section contains resources for teachers and tutors.

  • Writing instructors: encompasses Everything instructors need to develop syllabuses and curricula.
  • Writing letters of recommendation for students: This subsection describes how to write effective letters of recommendation for students applying to colleges or universities.
  • Writing Tutors: These resources guide tutors to a wide range of writing.
  • Teaching Resources: Helps teachers use multi-media tools to teach writing.
  • Preventing Plagiarism: Helps teachers explain to students the concept of plagiarism and how to avoid it.
  • Translingual Writing: This subsection properly explains translingual writing and its approach in the classroom.
  • Writing in the engineering classroom: This subsection serves the 'write to learn' and 'learn to write' concepts, which are vital in all disciplines across universities.

Graduate Writing

Graduate writing is most helpful for graduate students who are working on their theses and dissertations.

This section provides useful information and guides to selecting your topics and genres. Purdue OWL teaches writing as conversation, process, social endeavor, and discipline-specific.

OWL also teaches these concepts in a new format, 'vidcasts,' so if you are tired of reading through it all, you can sit back and watch a video that explains it all.

Writing as a graduate student is different from an undergraduate's, as the audience they are writing for differs.

For example, undergraduates mostly write for their professors, while a graduate's audience is mainly their colleagues in the field as they engage in conversation to proclaim new research.

Purdue OWL states that a graduate writer's identity as a scholar requires a concurrent identity as a writer.

Subject Specific Writing

As its name suggests, this section covers writing guides and information about many subjects such as:

  • Professional, Technical writing
    • Work Place Writers
    • Audience Analysis
    • Prioritizing Concerns for Effective Business Writing
    • Parallel Structure
    • Activity and Postmortem Reports
    • Tone in Business Writing
    • Basic Business Letters
    • Accentuating the Positives
    • Memos
    • Grant Writing
    • Donation Request letter
    • Technical Reports
    • Revision in Business Writing
    • Business Writing for Administrative
  • Writing in Literature
    • Writing about Film
    • Literary Terms
    • Literary Theory
    • Writing about Fiction
    • Writing about Literature
    • Writing in Literature
    • Writing about Poetry
    • Poetry: Close Reading
    • Writing about World Literature
  • Writing in Social Sciences
    • Social Work Literature Review Guidelines
    • Writing in Psychology: Experimental Report Writing
  • Writing in Engineering
    • Engineering Project Documentation
    • Writing Engineering Reports
    • Handbook on Report Formats
    • Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS)
    • INDOT Workshop Resources for Engineers
    • Mechanical Engineering Writing Enhancement Program
  • Creative Writing
    • Creative Writing Introduction
    • Fiction Writing Basics
    • Pattern and Variation in Poetry
    • Pattern and Variation: Aural
    • Pattern and Variation: Visual
    • Characters and Fiction Writing
    • Poetry Writing
    • Creative Nonfiction
    • Professional Resources for Creative Writers
  • Healthcare Writing
    • Medical Journalism
    • SOAP Notes
    • Patient Education Materials
    • Writing as Veterinary Technician
    • Writing as Professional Nurse
  • Journalism and Journalistic Writing
    • Components of Newsworthiness
    • AP Style
    • Media Ethics
    • The Inverted Pyramid
    • Writing Leads
    • Press Releases
  • Writing in the Purdue SURF Program
    • SURF Workshop Resources Introduction
    • SURF Workshop Resources: Problem Statements
    • SURF Workshop Resources: Designing Scientific Research Posters
    • Submitting an Undergraduate Journal Article
  • Writing in Art History
    • Museum Catalog
    • Museum Title Cards
    • Art History Essays
    • Notes and Exams

Job Search Writing

Job Search Writing can be very tricky without knowing certain techniques. This section in Purdue OWL will teach you all you need to prepare applications and write letters, résumés, and CVs.

Furthermore, also a Video Résumés subsection teaches you how to plan, film, edit and distribute your video résumés.

English as A Second Language

This last section is broad in teaching you all about the English language.

World Englishes

Purdue OWL describes World Englishes as the differences in the English language that emerge as it is used in various contexts worldwide.

This subsection includes regional examples, classroom applications, activities, and suggested readings for you to be acquainted with World Englishes.

ESL Instructors, Tutors

These resources are for ESL teachers and students; it aids them in writing across the curriculum and writing in disciplines.

It also contains links to ESL resources on the internet.

Final Words

Purdue OWL is a brilliant resource for students, teachers, writers, and scholars. They provide extensive help in every area in the field of writing like no other.

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