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

Welcome to Writing Commons, the open-education home for writers. Writing Commons helps students improve their writing, critical thinking, and information literacy. Founded in 2008 by Joseph M. Moxley, Writing Commons is a viable alternative to expensive writing textbooks. Faculty may assign Writing Commons for their composition, business, STEM/Technical Writing, and creative writing courses.

Writing Commons houses eleven main sections: The Writing Process | Style | Academic Writing | Rhetoric | Information Literacy | Evidence and Documentation | Research Methods and Methodologies | New Media Communication | Professional and Technical Communication | Creative Writing | Reviews

The two best ways to navigate through Writing Commons are using the top menu navigation, called Chapters, or the left-hand navigation menu system.

Information Literacy

Your success as a student and a citizen is significantly shaped by your ability to recognize when additional information is needed before you can make an informed decision. Likewise, to avoid being spammed and spoofed, you need to probe written and visual texts for their messages, tones, lenses, and emotional appeals. Doing so will not only encourage you to become a better critical thinker, but it will also enable you to become a more engaged citizen.

What are New Literacies? What is Intellectual Property? Critical Reading Practices, and Visual Literacy—these webtexts explore how you can identify when information is needed, efficiently access information, and assess information, questioning ways rhetorical, economic, and social practices shape claims and affect credibility.

Research Methods & Methodologies

While "research" is central to "the writing process" (typically referring to the process of searching the open web or library databases), “research” may also refer to different methods for data collection and data analysis.

Consult the Research Primer to understand why different academic disciplines, professions and businesses use different research methods. Learn the conventions of textual research methods and empirical research methods, including informed consent, surveys, case studies, and ethnographies. To expedite searching on the open web and library databases, check out Library & Internet Research. Then, to better understand how college faculty want you to integrate evidence into you texts, avoid inadvertent plagiarism and “patch writing,” review Integrate Evidence as well as Summarize and Paraphrase Sources.

Writing Processes

To help students at all levels of development—from high school to graduate school—Writing Commons provides an extremely thorough analysis of the attitudes and practices of successful academic, professional, and business writers.

Thinking rhetorically about one's audience and purpose, collaborating, researching, organizing texts, clarifying and maintaining a focus, practicing diverse invention strategies, designing one's format rhetorically, revising, editing, and publishing—these activities define "the writing process." As discussed in the Habits and Attitudes of Successful Academic Authors, you have a lot to gain by experimenting with, and being reflective about, diverse composing strategies. When composing, you can avoid wasted time by being strategic about when you need to play the believing game versus playing the doubting game.


"Collaboration" has always been an integral part of literacy and writing. Yet thanks to the internet and associated technologies, collaboration plays an increasingly greater role in business, professional, and academic settings. Social media tools like Facebook, Linked-In, and Academia.Edu put us in constant conversation with one another. Peer production tools like wikis and Google Docs enable us to collaborate in real-time. Video conferencing tools like Skype or Google Hangout enable us to workshop documents together even if continents and oceans separate us.

To improve your collaborative abilities, consult Managing Group Projects, Advice on Finding Collaborators, and Peer Review.


Writing Commons surveys common genres in multiple professional and academic communities: Academic Writing | Creative Writing | Business Writing | STEM/Technical Writing |

Broadly defined, “genre” refers to a classification scheme for texts, such as a job application letter, a lab report, and an end-of-the-semester research report. As a college student, you’ll write in a multitude of genres and media as you progress through your coursework. Early in your freshman year you may realize for the first time that the five-paragraph formula they taught you back in high school for writing in response to big-stakes testing doesn't adequately prepare you for the more rigorous expectations of university faculty. Over time, you will certainly face genres of writing with which you’re unfamiliar—such as the requirement to create a research poster or an interactive game to demonstrate learning outcomes. Interestingly, one of the defining capabilities of a successful writer is the ability to mix and match from past genres, to address new challenges creatively. When challenged by new genres, remember to think rhetorically and consider common organizational patterns.

New Media

Employ new writing tools, such as blogs, online forums, and wikis, to reach broad public audiences. So much material is shared and reused on the Internet that it's tempting not to worry much about copyright infringement or about your public, digital footprint. Even so, to avoid unnecessary and potentially serious trouble, check out Digital Ethics (Netiquette), Negotiating Virtual Spaces: Public Writing, Copyright and Writing.


Circumvent information silos—the tendency of some people to limit their access to information to a handful of websites or media sources—by publishing your message in multiple media and genres. Plus, remediating (or remixing) texts can turbocharge your creative potential. To learn more about remediation as an invention strategy, see "Text-to-Text Remediation" and "Text-to-Visual Remediation."

Voice, sentence structure, point of view, description, grammar—knowledge of these stylistic issues can enable you to craft your messages so they are artful, creative, and persuasive. Understand the effects of different syntactical patterns on readability and persuasiveness.