Many colleges and universities host exceptional online writing labs-or OWLs, as they are commonly called. The instructional materials and quizzes available at these sites are generally suitable for writers of all ages and at all academic levels.
At the website of the International Writing Centers Association, you'll find links to more than 100 OWLs. Although most are housed in American colleges and universities, the list of international sites has been growing rapidly. Australia alone, for example, is home to a dozen online writing centers.
Based on the experiences of our students, here are five of the very best OWLs.
The OWL at Purdue University(Hill Street Studios/Getty Images)
Created in 1995 by Dr. Muriel Harris, the OWL at Purdue is not only the oldest online writing lab but clearly one of the most comprehensive. The Purdue OWL "has become a complement to classroom instruction, a supplement to face-to-face tutorials, and a stand-alone reference for thousands of writers worldwide."02of 05
Guide to Grammar and Writing (Capital Community College)(OJO_Images/Getty Images)
Developed by the late Dr. Charles Darling in 1996 and now sponsored by the Capital Community College Foundation, the Guide to Grammar and Writing is a complete writing course online-and much more. One of the most useful features of the site is the abundance of self-tests and quizzes-all of which provide instant feedback.03of 05
The Excelsior College OWL(Tanya Constantine/Getty Images)
The most recent addition to our list of top sites, this multimedia OWL is remarkably attractive, informative, and engaging. Director Crystal Sands accurately observes that "the media-rich interactions and the writing video game surely make it a contender."04of 05
[email protected] (Colorado State University)(Lorraine Boogich/Getty Images)
In addition to providing "more than 150 guides and interactive activities for writers," [email protected] hosts a rich collection of resources for instructors of composition. Faculty in all disciplines will find useful articles, assignments, and other teaching materials at the WAC Clearinghouse.05of 05
HyperGrammar (Writing Centre at the University of Ottawa in Canada)(JGI/Jamie Gril/Getty Images)
The HyperGrammar site at the University of Ottawa is one of the best "electronic grammar courses" available to the general public. Easy to navigate and concisely written, the HyperGrammar explains and illustrates grammatical concepts accurately and clearly.