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.

Read more ...

Understand the fundamentals of typography, page, and web design; use visual language to convey meaning; use design to assert authority and organize work for readers.

"Design is a fun word. Some people think design means how it looks. But of course, if you dig deeper, it's really how it works." 
-Steve Jobs

We live in a culture where images and document design are used aggressively to convey meaning. Today's writers use images to do more than enrich their texts: Page design, layout, font choices, photographs, clip art, screenshots, animations, and video convey meaning.

People use the term design in two major ways:

  1. When some people use the term design, they mean ornamentation--a few baubles you might add to a text once it's completed. For these people, design is an afterthought. Content can be separate from form.
  2. In contrast, others view design from a rhetorical perspective. Instead of considering design to be ornamentation, they view design as a way to convey meaning--as a form of visual language.

Thanks to changes in how people read documents, design is more important now than ever before. In the past, discussions regarding the use of visuals, white space, fonts, and charts occurred primarily in technical writing classes. But today's easy-to-use word processors and Web editors enable writers to have unprecedented control over the look and feel of their documents. Graphic editors, images freely available on the Web, animation tools, streaming multimedia--these resources are transforming writing in interesting and powerful ways.

This doesn't mean that your teachers expect you to compete with the Web designers at CNN.com. And this doesn't mean your teachers will privilege substance over style. In fact, college teachers are chiefly concerned with your use of words and ideas. They have an ear for carefully crafted sentences and passages. The higher grades will go to those who develop worthwhile ideas.

Even so, writing is taking a visual turn. As modern-day readers become overwhelmed with information, writing is becoming "chunked" into deductive columns, bullets, and lists. Increasingly, people are using charts, graphics, and pictures to tell significant parts of their story. Ultimately, your writing will gain authority when it is designed well. Your professors and prospective employers are likely to be impressed by sound document design.

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.

Read more ...