Guide to Writing at SNL



Writing Help

Where to go for:


DePaul's Writing Center

The Writing Center offers individual tutorial sessions and writing support. This free service is available at the Loop and Lincoln Park campuses, and online. Students can email papers and questions to the Center and a tutor will provide feedback. Students can also set up regular tutorial sessions. Call the Center at the Loop: 312-362-6726 or Lincoln Park (773-325-4272) or check the Center website.

The Writing Center's website also includes links to other writing-related sites on the Internet.


Help with Grammar, ESL and Writing Papers

Academic Phrasebank

The Academic Phrasebank is a resource developed out of the University of Manchester to provide "examples of some of the phraseological ‘nuts and bolts’ of writing." Originally designed for non-native speakers of English, the Academic Phrasebank offers a variety of phrases, context, and organizational information for all scientific and academic writers. It's organized according to the main sections of an academic paper, and includes (among many other categories) phrases for "Referring to Sources" and "Writing Conclusions."

Bab.La Phrases

This phrase dictionary is designed for ESL students to help them find correct phrasing for commonly used phrases in business, academic and personal writing. However, it is just as useful for non-ESL students. For example, in the academic writing section, it provides templates for many of the moves one makes in academic writing such as how to introduce a topic, compare ideas, offer an opinion, present data and conclude a paper. It is a nice companion to the book They Say/I Say by Graff and Birkenstein that we use in the "Academic Writing for Adults" class at SNL.

Capital Community Technical College Guide to Grammar and Writing

A single professor has set up this quirky site. It offers hand-outs and over 170 quizzes designed to help students at every stage of the writing process, from the fundamentals (word and sentence-level writing) to the more advanced tasks of paragraph-writing, and even essay- and research paper-writing.  The searchable “grammarlog” contains answers to over 6000 grammatical questions asked by people from all over the world.

Colorado State University Writing Center

Lacking in grammatical and mechanical instruction, this site focuses on the writing process, offering guides and exercises to help students refine and revise arguments, as well as providing templates for a wide variety of writing types including academic, science, and business writing.

Dave’s ESL Cafe

Students for whom English is a second (or third, or fourth) language will find this to be a great resource, and some of the exercises are helpful for students who need to sharpen their basic grammatical skills.  The site also includes resources for teachers, as well as boards for educators to post their resumes.

Diane Hacker's A Writer's Reference Website

The textbook web site includes writing, grammar, and research exercises as well as model papers, links to other helpful web sites and a guide to online research and documentation. It also has a section on "language debates," covering such controversies as the usage of the passive voice, sexist language and split infinitives. A linked Instructor site that anyone can use also includes diagnostic tests and additional exercises.

Dr. Grammar Frequently Asked Questions

If you have a question about word usage, this is a good place to check.

Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing

Grammar as entertainment – who would guess?! This grammar blog is both entertaining and informative. The podcasts are by subscription, but the articles are free and archived by topic.

Handouts from the Writing Center at The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

These easy to follow and thorough handouts cover a variety of topics from procrastination to when to use "I" to how to write a comparison essay and much more.

Indiana University Writing Tutorial Service

Indiana University has an excellent collection of online pamphlets on plagiarism, proofreading, outlining, citing sources, how to use evidence, how to construct a thesis statement, how to write paragraphs and topic sentences, and how to write personal statements, application letters, essay exams, book reviews, resumes, and cover letters.

Purdue University's OWL (Online Writing Lab)

Purdue was one of the first schools to offer an online writing lab, and this well-developed site continues to be one of the best. It includes instructional handouts to help students with everything from punctuation to writing a job letter, help with English as a Second Language (ESL), links to more writing resources, and information about and links for doing internet research.  They offer a free Writing Lab newsletter, interactive quizzes, as well as resources for teachers.  In addition, the writing lab hosts a grammar hotline, as well as writing and research help by email, both of which are open to the general public.

Saint Cloud State University Literacy Education Online (LEO)

This site is structured as a series of solutions to common structural and grammatical problems in student papers.  It is less comprehensive than other sites in its treatment of grammatical issues, but its format makes it easy to navigate and a very useful resource when in need of a quick answer to a nagging question.


Help with Using Sources and Avoiding Plagiarism

How to Know if a Source is Worth Using:

Evaluating Sources

This site offers four questions to ask yourself about possible sources: How well do they answer your research question? Is the information from experts? Is the information valid? Do you have a variety of sources?

Evaluating Print Sources

This site goes into detail about how to find out if a print source is applicable, objective and authoritative.

Tips for Evaluating Sources

In addition to print sources, this site discusses how to evaluate online sources.

Tools that Will Format Citations and Bibliographies for You:

Zotero How-to Guide from DePaul Library

Zotero is a free web-based tool used with Firefox that helps writers formulate and store citations for academic papers. Zotero’s tagline is “It’s never been easier to collect, manage, cite, and share your research sources,” and the range of services that it offers to users certainly seems to back up that assessment. Zotero offers the below (

• Automatically capture citations
• Remotely back up and sync your library
• Store PDFs, images, and web pages
• Organize with collections, tags, and related
• Access your library anywhere
• Fully searchable PDFs, notes, and citations
• Cite from within Word and OpenOffice (link)
• Take rich-text notes in any language
• Import/Export your library
• Collaborate with private or public groups (link)
• Open source, free, and updated constantly

To learn more about Zotero If you have an iPhone, you can also take advantage of a Zotero plug-in called BibUp. This app allows you to create a citation by scanning a book's barcode. The BibUp allows you to easily create bibliographic references by scanning books barcodes and extracts of text. "The references, including the OCRed text, can be viewed on a web page and collected using the Zotero plugin for Firefox." For more information on BibUp, visit here.

A similar application for the iPhone is Quick Cite. To be used independently of Zotero, this app allows you to scan a book's barcode and then emails you the citation in APA, MLA, Chicago, or IEEE styles.

Help for Formatting Your Own Citations:

Research and Citation Resources from the OWL at Purdue

The OWL at Purdue is a good first place to look for all writing-related questions. From this page, you can find guidance on how to conduct research as well as how to cite sources using MLA (the Modern Language Assocation) and APA (the American Psychological Association) styles. Those of you in Foundations and Research Seminar can also find guidance on how to do annotated bibliographies.

How to Cite a Cereal Box in MLA 2009: Because if you can cite a cereal box, you can cite anything

This video teaches the fine art of extrapolating from citation "rules" to fit the many kinds of sources not covered by any specific rule. It makes the point that MLA (as well as APA) are not a set of rules so much as a set of principles that you can learn how to apply.

What You Need to Know About Plagiarism:

DePaul's Academic Integrity Website

The Resources page of this website is very helpful. It includes definitions of academic integrity violations, examples of what does and does not constitute plagiarism, and guidance on how to cite sources, footnote, quote, paraphrase, summarize. If you are confused about plagiarism or unsure about citation, this site is a great place to start.


Online Dictionaries, Encyclopedias and Writing Textbooks

This is a wonderful and convenient place to check the spelling and definition of a word.  It also offers a thesaurus with synonyms and antonyms, and an online encyclopedia.  Pronunciation guides and other features are available for a subscription fee.

Merriam-Webster Online

More thorough than, Merriam-Webster offers, in addition to definitions, synonyms and antonyms, word origins, and free pronunciation guides.

Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia that anyone can update. That means it is both a great source for information on everything from current events, to history, to pop-culture and that it is only as credible as its most recent contributor. It is a good place to start, but be sure to verify any information you gather from it.

Open Access Textbooks from Colorado State

You can find complete textbooks that will help you with writing in the disciplines, research writing, academic writing and addressing writing process problems like procrastination at this site.


When You Want to Procrastinate

Fun with Words

This is a site dedicated to clever wordplay.  It contains amusing etymologies, anagrams, spoonerisms, and a host of other verbal games and mishaps.  Also of interest are articles on language and language use and an extensive list of abbreviations used in internet dialogue.

A Painful Glimpse Into My Writing Process (in Less than 60 Seconds)

This award-winning short movie about the agony of trying to write is directed by Chel White and written by Scott Poole. You can get more information about the film here:


What better way to procrastinate than learning what to do about procrastinating?


A Note to SNL Students from SNL Students and Writing Center Tutors Rich Orman and Oyekunle Oyegbemi

A Note to SNL Students from SNL Students and Writing Center Tutors Rich Orman and Oyekunle Oyegbemi


Just like you, we are students in the SNL program. And, like many of you, we have been away from an academic environment for a number of years.  When we returned, we discovered that there were many adjustments that we would have to make to be successful in school at this stage in our lives. One of the biggest challenges to any college student is the requirement to write competently. Some of you have learned or will learn that most SNL courses are writing intensive and that there is a high premium placed on being able to write well.

In order to help SNL students be successful writers, DePaul University has a Writing Center to assist in all aspects of the writing process. Qualified tutors are available to help students work through any writing problems that they might have. As a student at SNL it is important for you to know that resources are available to you as you work toward your academic goals.

The Writing Center is more than a ‘fix it’ shop. It is a place where you can dialogue about your ideas; it is a place of intellectual stimulation. So make an appointment if you need us, we’re located online, on the 16th floor of the Lewis Center downtown and in 150 McGaw Hall on the Lincoln Park campus. Have a look at the Writing Center.

-- Rich Orman and Oyekunle Oyegbemi




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