Writing Resources for Graduate Students

This website offers a quick guide to resources and tools to help graduate students become more effective scholars. The links below offer free online tools, how-to guides, and editing and style resources that address a wide range of skills needed for graduate school.

Be sure to check the Graduate Student Commons calendar of events for their weekly Writing Together sessions. Writing Together is structured, weekly writing time for graduate students. Write for 45 minutes, take a short break to socialize, and then complete another 45-minute writing sprint. Sponsored by the Division of Student Success.

  • Free Online Grammar Tools

    These tools can help with editing, grammar, spelling, word choice, and checking for plagiarism.

    Grammarly: Checks grammar, spelling, punctuation, word choice, and style mistakes in writing. You can upload documents, drag and paste, or write directly into a document on the site, and it works in most online text boxes, such as emails. The Grammarly add-in allows you to use Grammarly while you’re writing Word documents. Grammarly’s red underlining is easy to see and clearly marks where the error is, and it is easy to dismiss the advice if need be. Grammarly lets you select American or British English, and you can select a writing genre, useful for writing in different voices for different audiences. It works on Chrome, Edge, Firefox, and Safari.

    Word Counter: Ranks frequently used words in a body of text to learn if you’re overusing particular words or to help locate keywords.

    ProWritingAid: Highlights problems in sentence structure in addition to grammar and punctuation errors. The software looks for common problems in writing structure and provides substantial feedback to improve writing.

    What is Plagiarism? Take this short quiz from the University of Indiana! Use it as a TA to analyze student writing.

  • Current Subscriptions

    Endnote: A bibliographic reference manager, available for download from the UCSC library website; allows users to insert bibliographies into papers easily and stores, manages, and categorizes reference sources.
  • Citation Resources Available via the UCSC Library

    Graduate Student Library OrientationOrients you to the library and helps you get started with practical insights.

    How-to guide for citing sources and links to style guides

    Zotero: In-browser citation tool that collects and stores websites for citations. Video explaining how to use Zotero

    Mendeley: Reference and PDF manager that Mac, PC, and Linux users can download and sync with their mobile devices. The manager also allows users to share references with other Mendeley users.

    EndNote: Bibliographic reference manager, available for download from the UCSC library website, allows users to insert bibliographies into papers easily and stores, manages, and categorizes reference sources.

    Email a librarian with further questions.

  • Note Taking and Organizing Research

    Evernote: Manages projects, notes, and online research; edits documents; and records memos. Adds attachments, clips web pages, and adds tags to search and find sources quickly.

    Having trouble with focus? Use a timer!  

    Pomodoro Technique: Helps you power through distractions, hyper focus, and get things done in short bursts, while taking frequent breaks to come up for air. Set a timer for 25 minutes to do a burst of work, break for 5 minutes, and for every four Pomodoros take a longer break. Use one of the online timers or a manual one to avoid the phone timer and accompanying distractions. Several apps can help structure your time using the Pomodoro Technique.

  • Tools for Transcribing


    OTranscribe: Has a word processor available to type and automatically saves any transcription and audio files, e.g., MP3 or WAV files, to your browser’s cache—locally only so they do not leave your hard drive. It can be operated from your keyboard with shortcuts to play/pause, rewind, slow down, speed up, format text, fast-forward, and insert time stamps. An especially nice feature is its automatic rewind for a couple of seconds if you pause and then resume.

    Use Google Docs to dictate: Requires using headphones and working in a quiet space.

    Minor cost with speech recognition software:

    Amazon Transcribe: $0.0004/second, or $1.44/hour

  • Writing Lab Websites

    The Wisconsin-Madison Writing Handbook is the best website we’ve found covering topics ranging from grant writing to grammar and punctuation. Detailed resource materials include:

    • Academic and Professional Writing
    • Grant Proposals
    • Job Materials and Application Essays
    • Proposals and Dissertations
    • Reviews
    • Scientific Reports
    • Writing Process and Structure (how to draft, write, review, and finish your paper, including how to use gender-neutral pronouns and an editing checklist)
    • Citation and Working with Sources
    • Improving Your Writing Style
    • Grammar and Punctuation: How-to guides
    • Citing References: ASA, MLA, etc.
  • Online coaching and editing

    These writing resources provide support at a cost, but if you need copy-editing or a writing coach, here are some of the best:

    Defend and Publish: FREE 30-minute phone consultation option

    The Professor is In: Help with everything from dissertations and articles to book chapters. Also has a very useful book of the same name.

    National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity: Dissertation success curriculum available for individual members

  • Freelance editors for hire

    Seek referrals or look online for non-fiction editors for hire. Most freelancers are available to work online/remotely.

  • Books and Bibliographies

    We recommend 2 books to guide your writing career:

    UC Davis has a comprehensive bibliography on writing support for a variety of needs for more information.