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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An archaism refers to an out-of-style word or phrase, such as “whilst,” “thusly,” or “thou.” When cultivating your own personal writing style, it’s important that you avoid sounding artificial. And one surefire way to sound artificial is to produce stilted writing by loading your paper with old theatrical-sounding words. Here are some archaisms commonly found in student writing (ones to avoid):

  • Thusly: You can use “thus” in writing, but be careful not to overuse it. Constantly repeating the word “thus” can make your writing sound unnatural. Try varying your transitional language by incorporating phrases like “as such,” “as a result,” or “in effect.” “Thusly,” however, should never be used. When have you ever heard that word used in modern-day society?
  • Hence: This is perhaps the most abused term in student papers. It’s often found in the middle of the sentence (in place of a comma and conjunction). See the following example:

"This Facebook user’s profile contained many inappropriate pictures hence it affected my perception of her credibility."

Using “hence” in this way causes the sentence to become a run-on. Rather than using “hence,” try the following:

  • "This Facebook user’s profile contained many inappropriate pictures, which brought her credibility into question."


  • "This Facebook user’s profile contained many inappropriate pictures; as a result, I questioned her credibility."


  • "This Facebook user’s profile contained many inappropriate pictures, so I questioned her credibility."

You see, there is no reason to use the word “hence” when you have a variety of options available to you. The key is to sound like yourself—perhaps a more formal version of yourself, depending upon the assignment, but certainly not a stilted or unnatural version.

  • Hitherto: While this word may be used sometimes in scholarly writing, it is still a bit archaic. It means “previously,” so why not just say “previously”? The latter is used much more regularly and will give your paper a more conversational tone.

So, consider your audience—you want your diction (word choice) to be suited to your audience, and you want your reader to hear your own voice. That means that unless you’re talking to Shakespeare, don’t write like him. Be yourself.

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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