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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

English as a Second Language: Writing & Composition

A guide for second-language learners of English

Writers' Resources on the Web

UCLA Graduate Writing Center - ESL Resources

Brown University Writing Center - ESL/ESOL links

Purdue University's Online Writing Lab

Constructing the Paragraph - a tutorial for writing American English in academic settings. Self-testing online.

Advanced Composition for Non-native speakers of English - navigation on the right side of this page offers writing principles, explanations of types of English essays that are common in the U.S., and explanations of specific writing concepts (topic sentences, transitions, etc.) with accompanying quizzes.

ESOL Essayist - a guide to writing the five-paragraph essay. Tutorial provided by the University of Texas.


Style Manuals

These works are intended to help students write effectively in American English. They describe techniques to craft arguments and paragraphs, self-edit papers and revise paragraphs and organizational structures. Non-native students are introduced to culturally-appropriate strategies to help them succeed in their academic writing tasks.


Williams, Joseph M. Style: The Basics of Clarity and Grace. New York: Pearson Longman, 2006.

Swan, Michael. Practical English Usage3rd edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.

Strunk, William. The Elements of Style4th edition. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2007.

Lindberg, Christine. The Oxford American Writer's Thesaurus. Second Edition. New Work: Oxford University Press, 2008.

Hacker, Diana. A Pocket Style Manual (Clarity, Grammar, Punctuation and Mechanics, Research Sources, MLA, APA, Chicago, Usage/Grammatical Terms). 4th edition, Bedford/St. Martin, 2004.

Modern Language Association. The MLA Style Sheet.  Revised Edition. BN Publishing, 2011. 

Read, Herbert. English Prose Style.  New Edition. New York: Pantheon Book, 1980.

Turabian, Kate. A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations.  7th edition. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2007. 

Fergusson, Rosalind. Cassell's Dictionary of English Idioms.  Reprinted. London: Cassell, 2003.

Hobson, Archie. The Oxford Dictionary of Difficult Words.  New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.

Webster's New Dictionary of Synonyms, A Dictionary of Discriminated Synonyms with Antonyms and Analogous and Contrasted Words.  New Edition. Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, 1984.

Fowler, H. W. and Burchfield, R.W. The New Fowler's Modern English Usage. Reprinted from the 1926 edition, 3rd edition. Oxford: Clarendon, 2009.

General Writers' Resources at the Library

Kemper, Dave. Writers INC : a student handbook for writing and learning. Wilmington, MA : Great Source, Great Source Education Group, 2001.

Yang, Jen Tsi. An outline of scientific writing : for researchers with English as a foreign language. (Engineering 808.0666 Y16O)

Swales, John M. and Christine B. Feak. Academic writing for graduate students : essential tasks and skills. Ann Arbor : University of Michigan Press, 2004. 

Murray, Rowena and Sarah Moore. The handbook of academic writing : a fresh approach. Maidenhead, England ; Open University Press, 2006. 

Huff, Anne Sigismund. Writing for scholarly publication. Thousand Oaks; Sage Publications, 1999.

Silvis, Paul J. How to write a lot : a practical guide to productive academic writing. Washington, DC; American Psychological Association, 2007. 

Sword, Helen. Stylish academic writing. Cambridge, MA; Harvard University Press, 2012. 

 Clark, Jessica L. and Kristen E. Murray. Scholarly writing : ideas, examples, and execution. Durham, N.C. Carolina Press, 2010. 

Shiach, Don. How to write essays: a step-by-step guide for all levels, with sample essays. Oxford; How to Books, 2009. [electronic resource]

Turabian, Kate L. Student's guide to writing college papers. Chicago; The University of Chicago Press, 2010. 

Wallwork, Adrian. English for writing research papers.  New York; Springer, 2011. [electronic resource]

Search the catalog for more resources not listed here. 


Discipline Specific Writing Guides

Mabbett, Ian. Writing history essays : a student's guide. Basinstoke, England;Palagrave Macmillan, 2007. 

Fajans, Mary and Mary Falk. Scholarly writing for law students : seminar papers, law review notes, and law review competition papers. St. Paul, MN; Thomson/West, 2005. 

Bitchener, John. Writing an applied linguistics thesis or dissertation : a guide to presenting empirical research. Basingstoke, Engliand; Palagrave Macmillan, 2010. 

Feinberg, Joel. Doing philosophy : a guide to the writing of philosophy papers. Australia; Thomson/wadsworth, 2005. 

Thomson, William. A guide for the young economist. Cambridge, MA; MITPress, 2001. 

Wingell, Richard. Writing about music : an introductory guide. Upper Saddle River, NJ; Prentice Hall, 1997. 

Schmidt, Diane. Writing in political science : a practical guide. Boston; Longman, 2010. 

Bell, Philip. Evaluating, doing and writing research in psychology : a step-by-step guide for students. London; Sage Publications, 2001. 

Northey, Margot and P. von Aderkas. Making sense : life sciences : a student's guide to research and writing. Don Mills, Ont.; Oxford Univerity Press, 2011.