Writing is hard on its own; however, the necessity to create papers that your school will accept adds another challenge. Today, we’ll look at one of the tools that can help students improve their writing and stick to the required standard—Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL).
What Is the Purdue Online Writing Lab (Purdue OWL)?
The Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) is a free resource with information about writing, sponsored by Purdue University. The website offers “online reference materials and services for creating citations, cover letters, major-specific writing help, and general writing advice.”
The Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) was launched by Purdue University first as an email server/GOPHER FTP service in 1993. In 1994 it went online. It’s the first and the largest online writing lab (OWL) currently on the Internet. The university also offers an on-campus writing lab with plenty of writing assistance; however, today, we’ll focus on the Purdue OWL specifically.
The Purdue OWL (Online Writing Lab) offers all sorts of information on writing any high school student may need to prepare a piece of academic writing: a paper, an essay, a creative writing piece, etc. There’re plenty of tips on how to arrange the writing process, a comprehensive grammar guide, and several style guides (MLA, APA, Chicago).
The Purdue OWL Features
There are several sections on the website:
- General Writing
- Research and Citation
- Avoiding Plagiarism
- Teacher and Tutor Resources
- Graduate Writing
- Subject-Specific Writing
- Job Search Writing
Each section focuses on a specific writing topic and provides information useful to students and teachers.
Another section contains style guides and exercises. Each of the guides helps learn how to use the citation and format styles and includes resources on in-text citation and the References page, as well as sample papers, slide presentations, and classroom posters.
Purdue OWL is considered a resource rich in practical information related to all writing topics. It’s a treasure trove for all high school students, college students, graduate students, and others looking for writing reference resources.
Who Is Purdue OWL For?
The Purdue OWL audience is broad and varied. While the targeted audience is English speakers and people searching for writing guidance in general, non-native English speakers also find the platform an excellent resource. Therefore, the major Purdue OWL user groups are:
- High-school instructors and students
- Instructors and students teaching/learning English as a second language
- Purdue and non-Purdue instructors and students
- Workplace and professional writers
Purdue OWL for Students
The primary users of Purdue OWL are high school and college students. On the platform, they can get all sorts of information on the writing process, grammar, and style.
There’re plenty of recommendations on how to structure your writing, create essays and other documents, use logic, stick to a specific format and style, etc. For instance, eliminating wordiness exercises with answers:
There are also such essential things from grammar explanations and quizzes to the most popular styles and formates with examples such as Purdue OWL APA reference and Purdue OWL MLA sample paper, to name a few. It also has a section devoted to resume preparation:
The platform is ideal for students who have already mastered some writing skills and want to hone their writing. However, less experienced younger students can also use it as a reference.
Purdue OWL for Educators
The Purdue OLW educational platform can also be used by educators and teachers in their classes or as an additional source of all-writing-related materials. It’s not exactly a platform where a teacher can organize a fully equipped lesson, as it’s not really designed for interactive instruction. However, it’s an easily accessible free educational resource with plenty of materials about writing. Teachers can use it to print out some pages or create presentations and supplement their lessons. For instance, here is a ready handout with subject and verb agreement exercises with answers:
Purdue OWL Citation Guide
Purdue OWL Research and Citation Resources is one of the most popular sections of the educational platform. It contains all sorts of information on annotating and citing academic papers, from OWL Purdue annotated bibliography to OWL Purdue works cited in the required citation and format styles.
Purdue OWL offers the Citation Chart with a detailed overview of MLA Style, APA Style, and Chicago Manual of Style source documentation by category. You can download it and use it offline; here’s a screenshot of one of the document’s pages:
It also contains information about each citation and format style described in a separate section:
OWL Purdue Citation Machine
Purdue OWL doesn’t have their own citation generator. Instead, they collaborate with Chegg to help students create citations faster and in the correct format. The embedded Chegg citation form can be found on every style’s page, and depending on the style, it’ll send you to the Chegg page, where citations can be created. For instance, you need to cite History of the Modern Suspension Bridge: Solving the Dilemma between Economy and Stiffness and Santiago Calatrava: Drawing, Building, Reflecting:
After a few clicks and a long wait (you have to watch a free ad to view your citation, but afterward, all other searches and citations are free), you can copy and paste OWL Purdue in-text citations into your paper:
Calatrava, S., & de, A. C. C. (2018). Santiago Calatrava. drawing, building, reflecting. Thames & Hudson Ltd.
Kawada, T., & Scott, R. (2010). History of the modern suspension bridge: Solving the dilemma between economy and stiffness. ASCE.
Or copy and paste in-text citation:
(Calatrava & de, 2018)
(Kawada & Scott, 2010)
Now, let’s look at the most common citation styles offered on the Purdue OWL website: OWL Purdue APA citation, Purdue OWL MLA citation, Purdue OWL Chicago citation, and Purdue OWL AMA citation styles.
Purdue OWL APA Formatting and Style Guide
OWL Purdue APA citation guide contains everything you need to know about citing works in APA style. Students can use Purdue OWL examples to create APA in-text citations and understand how to design an APA title page or APA reference page. Purdue OWL even offers APA sample paper as a ready-made template. Purdue OWL provides comprehensive information on APA formatting and style guide and makes citation in APA easy for everyone. Even students who aren’t familiar with this style can use the Purdue manual to cite their works in APA.
OWL Purdue APA Citation Machine
As we’ve already mentioned, the OWL Purdue APA citation machine is actually an embedded link to the Chegg citation machine.
Purdue OWL MLA Formatting and Style Guide
MLA OWL Purdue citation guide contains everything you need to know about citing works in the Modern Language Association (MLA) citation and format style. With the help of Purdue OWL materials, MLA works can be cited exactly as required. From an MLA sample paper to MLA in-text citation examples, the Purdue OWL platform will help you cite your works if you major in the language arts, cultural studies, and other humanities disciplines.
Purdue OWL Chicago Formatting and Style Guide
Purdue OWL Chicago citation guide contains everything you need to know about citing works in The Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) (17th edition). Chicago Purdue OWL contains the most recent updates; however, the complete manual can be accessed on The Chicago Manual of Style Online website.
How Much Does Purdue OWL Cost?
Purdue OWL is freely available for all educational, personal, or training purposes. The resource was created more than 20 years ago to provide writing guidance for writers at all levels—from high school students to graduate students to educators and instructors.
Purdue OWL Pros and Cons
|– Plethora of writing-related resources, from grammar rules and sentence structure to writing style and process guidance|
– Excellent teachers’ section (both for instructors in the U.S. and abroad)
– Invaluable for those teaching English as a Second or Foreign language
– Easy website navigation
– APA Formatting and Style Guide
– MLA Formatting and Style Guide
– Chicago Formatting and Style Guide
|– No interactivity|
– No feedback from instructors
– Focus on self-study
– Requires a certain level of written competence (not suitable for primary and middle school students)
How Effective Is Purdue OWL?
The Purdue OWL website offers free instructional materials and writing resources to a very broad audience of students and educators. Taking into account its lack of interactivity (which can be found on other paid educational platforms), the website can be used to its best advantage by those who know what they are looking for, have a certain level of writing competence, and can handle a large scope of material independently without guidance. The platform is considered an exceptionally informative resource for all things writing—research, writing styles, grammar, formatting and citation styles, English as a second language, and professional writing—therefore, it’s highly recommended for everyone who wants to get into all aspects of the writing process.