Free Resources for Improving Your Writing Skills

Having credentials and education is part of establishing your professional credibility (as featured in the recent VLS webinar by Deb Grubbe). However, if you don't write well, all the credentials in the world won't help much. Your communication skills create a profound impression on employers and coworkers and become part of your personal brand. Spelling and grammatical errors detract from your message. Make a good impression by ensuring all your business communications, even informal emails, are well-written.

In my quest to improve my own skills, I came across some free resources that I'd like to share with you. I hope you find value in them as I did.


If you haven't heard already, prestigious universities are offering free online courses. Coursera is one of the sites serving as a platform for courses from Yale, Stanford, Duke, and other institutions. For example, Duke University is offering English Composition I: Achieving Expertise, starting March 18, 2013.

At Coursera, you can register as a student in the classes, submit assignments for review, and collaborate with other students. Although the courses are not for credit, you may receive a completion certificate.

MIT Open Courseware

MIT has made a treasure trove of course materials available to the public on its Open Courseware site. This site differs from Coursera in that the course materials are made available after the courses take place, and you don't register as a participating student. The Writing and Humanistic Studies section contains many courses that will appeal to science and technical writers, as well as those in other genres.

I plan on reviewing the Science Writing and New Media course.

Writing Commons

This site is aimed at college-level students and others who need to improve their writing skills. It includes a free open-source textbook used as reference material for the Duke University course mentioned above. The site's publisher and executive editor is Joe Moxley, Ph.D., a Professor of English at South Florida University.


Mignon Fogarty provides excellent tips and clarification of English grammar rules on her website. She is often quoted by other writing experts. Some of my colleagues would benefit from reading her site - I will definitely be sharing it with them! You can link to the site here.

Poynter NewsU

Designed for journalists, Poynter's News University offers over 250 free or low-cost courses. Some of these are general writing instruction, such as the self-directed course entitled Writer's Workbench: 50 Tools You Can Use.

Merriam-Webster Online

More than just a dictionary, the Merriam-Webster site includes a thesaurus, tools and quizzes to help expand your vocabulary and your mind. This is an essential resource for any writer.

Happy writing!

Do you have a favorite writing reference you'd like to share? Please comment!


The site's distributer and official editorial manager is Joe Moxley, Ph.d., a Professor of English at South Florida University.