A free, comprehensive, peer-reviewed, award-winning Open Text for students and faculty in college-level courses that require writing and research.

Joe Moxley, Founder, WritingCommons.org

Joe Moxley


Dear Colleagues and Students,

At Writing Commons, we are happy with the overall success of our project. Since 2011, when we launched at WritingCommons.org, we have hosted 6,315,882 users who have reviewed over 11 million pages. We are thrilled that students and faculty find our site to be helpful. Our ongoing mission is to be the best writing textbook possible. We also happen to be free. While we cannot perhaps claim yet that we are the best possible textbook for technical writing or creative writing courses, we are working on that.

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Why should figurative language be used in engaging writing?

Figurative language makes a comparison that is not meant to be read literally; instead, figures of speech are intended to create a connection or highlight a significant part of a discussion. Certain literary devices—such as similes, metaphors, and personification—can help create word pictures for the reader. When persuasive writers use figurative language, they are more likely to engage their readers and make their argument more relevant and convincing.

How can figurative language be used to engage the reader?

  • Use similesto make a direct comparison between a topic or issue and another item or event in a way that paints a vivid picture for the reader.
    • Example of a simile: John Smith’s economic improvement methods were like an executioner at a guillotine; he cut off funding with one quick sweep, leaving little time for the victimized party to contest.
  • Use metaphorsto help create a visual representation for the reader by framing the topic or issue as something else.
    • Example of a metaphor: In the courtroom, Clarissa was a defenseless rabbit. She looked wide eyed and afraid, shook uncontrollably while on the stand, and cried when the prosecution began to question her.
  • Use personificationto produce a visual connection by assigning a human trait to an inanimate or nonhuman object.
    • Example ofpersonification: After I endured a long week at work, the beach invited me to come and enjoy its soft sand, cool breeze, and refreshing water.

For more information on figurative language:


Cassandra Branham, Editor-in-Chief WritingCommons.org

Cassandra Branham


Dear Colleagues and Students,

Welcome to Writing Commons, an open-education resource for instructors and students of writing across the disciplines. Our mission is to provide a high-quality, cost free resource to support students in the development of writing, research, and critical thinking practices.

This summer, we have been working on a site redesign in an effort to increase the usability of our site for both instructors and students. Our most significant change has been the inclusion of additional categories and subcategories to create a more intuitive hierarchy within the site.

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