Writing styles

How to inspect your own writing

Recently, someone asked us: “Can you please tell me who is the most authority where is the most respected Resource about writing rules? There are several excellent sources on writing rules. However, the rules are different for different fields, such as business, technology, government or academic in writing.

Strunk & White

Full-time writers often turn to a textbook, like Strunk and White’s “Elements of style.” This book, published in 1959, combines the earlier work of William Strunk, Junior and EB White, the author of several popular children’s books. “Elements of style” has simple rules for good writing. You can get the 1920 version of the book for free on Project Gutenberg. Newer versions address issues with sex and changes in punctuation.

Chicago style manual

Students writing a report for school can use a book as The Chicago Style Manualfrom the University of Chicago. The Chicago Handbook take care of english grammar and how to prepare an academic paper. It was first published in 1906. Kate L. Turabian’s Handbook for writers of research articles, theses and dissertations is based on The Chicago Handbook. His work is especially useful for high school and college students. It is available for free online.

Purdue Owl

A great place to look for writing help is Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab, or “OWL” for short. As stated earlier, technical and professional writing is different from what teachers expect from writing in school. So, Purdue OWL has a guide for writing business letters and technical documents.

The OWL offers helpful resources for writing teachers who work from a distance, too. Teachers can download presentations on many writing-related topics.

Avoid plagiarism

Another English learner asked us how to avoid plagiarism when writing. Plagiarism is when someone takes another person’s work and passes it off as their own.

Many schools severely punish students for copying another writer’s words. For those learning English, writing has different issues, and to help them, the OWL has a section specifically for ESL students. It includes an explanation of how American schools deal with plagiarism.

When students find information on the Internet, it is all too easy to copy it and incorporate it directly into their own written work. To avoid this, the OWL urges you to take more time to thoroughly understand what you are reading. Start by looking at books and printed materials before turning to the Internet. When you find information on the Internet, jot down notes by hand in a notebook. As you write, put the ideas into your own words. This process is called paraphrase.

Think about the meaning of the whole work. You want to tell your reader how this information relates to your own ideas. If you use another author’s exact words, be sure to place quote Brands [“_”] before and after them, and tell your reader how to find the original source. The guides I named earlier in this report explain how to cite works in different writing styles.

If you’re not sure how you’ve paraphrased another writer’s work, there are tools online that will tell you how close your work is. looks like someone else’s. Ask your school what tool they suggest. Or you can take a few lines of your written work and copy them into an Internet search engine. If they are identical to another published work, the search result will likely identify that work.

Work with others

Another good way to test your writing is to read it aloud and see if it’s easy to understand. Ask a friend or family member to listen to you while you read it and let you know if they understand. Writing well isn’t easy, but when you’re done, you’ll have a good feeling: you’ve clearly communicated your ideas to others.

I am Jill Robbins.

Jill Robbins wrote this story for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.


words in this story

authoritynm a person who is an expert on a subject

Resource – nm an amount of money or material that can be used by a person or organization to function effectively

academic – adj. relating to education

sex – nm either sex, especially where there are social and cultural differences, not biological ones

punctuation – nm marks used in writing to separate statements and clarify meaning

grammarnm the whole system and structure of a language

from a distanceadj. without physical contact; something done online or on the internet

paraphrase v. say (something someone else has said or written) using different words

quote – nm a group of words taken from a written work or speech and repeated by someone other than the author or speaker

look like – v. to look like or resemble (someone or something)

What kind of writing do you usually do? We want to hear from you. Write to us in the comments section.