One of the most challenging aspects of every college student’s academic journey is writing papers. Students usually hate doing these, because it requires them to be equally adept at several different things: writing, research, critical analysis, editing, referencing, proofreading…
The list of necessary skills just goes on and on, so it’s easy to see why writing papers and essays is such a difficult and demanding task. There aren’t a lot of students that possess the right skillset which is necessary for effortless essay crafting.
However, the good news is that there are plenty of tools out there that can help students with their writing. Although there are more, we have selected 15 which have proven to be the most effective. Keep on reading.
You should always be ready if a moment of inspiration strikes you, which is why we recommend you start using Evernote. This tool will help you keep all your ideas and thoughts organized and easily accessible across all platforms, be it your PC, smartphone or a tablet. It also allows you to save articles, images and videos for later research, which is extremely easy, because you can use tags to find and categorize everything. Evernote has a free and a paid version, depending on the level of functionality you need.
Mind mapping is one of the most efficient techniques which can help you develop and structure your ideas. MindNode relies on graphic representation of your ideas, which makes the entire process a lot more intuitive and interesting. It helps you focus on a central idea, instead of getting distracted by less important details. You can download a free trial version before you decide to buy it.
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Research is probably the most important aspect of essay writing, perhaps even more important than writing itself, which is why Zotero should find itself in every college student’s digital toolbox. Zotero is a free and extremely user-friendly tool which integrates itself seamlessly into your web browser, whether you’re a PC, Mac or a Linux user. Its unique ability to recognize, organize and save content makes the world of difference from a researcher’s point of view.
Some of the stuff we read tends to stick to our brains like glue, so in order to avoid unintentionally plagiarizing someone else’s work, every college student should check their paper for plagiarism. One of the best online tools for plagiarism checking is PlagTracker, which allows you to upload and get your documents checked for free. You can also register for a paid premium account, if you want to gain access to more features.
Every writer needs their pen and paper or, in this day and age, their digital counterpart: a suite of office tools. While Microsoft Office springs to mind first, it is out most students’ price range. But, its free alternative, OpenOffice, is every bit as powerful, and can import and export documents in just about any format you can put a finger on.
If you prefer to use web-based applications for your paper writing, Google Docs should be your go-to destination. Much like Microsoft Office and OpenOffice, Google Docs allows you to create text documents, spreadsheets and presentations, edit them on the spot, and then save them afterwards, without taking up any space on your hard drive. And the best part of all: it’s completely free.
Scrivener is a powerful content-generation tool which allows you to create and compose long document and papers. It offers a lot more than your standard text editor. You can collect and organize research results, notes, and view them at the same time as your document. Basically, Scrivener is a tool which you will use starting with research, and ending with a final version of the document. It isn’t free, but you can download a free trial version to check it out before you buy it. Available for both Mac and Windows.
There will be times where you will be required to collaborate with other students and write a paper together. In order to pull that off, you are going to need a power app which can do all of that seamlessly and Producteev fits that description perfectly. You will have to pay if you want a version which integrates into your Microsoft Outlook, or if you need personalized support. Online version, however, is completely free to use and offers similar functionality.
Once you are done writing, you need to proofread your paper and check stuff like spelling, punctuation, and grammar, and it’s hard to find a better tool for it than Grammarly. All you have to do it upload your text, and it will analyze it and find errors for free. There is also the premium version, which offers additional functionality, such as error explanation, along with corrections.
EndNote is a versatile and powerful tool which allows you to organize, share and save your research, as well as keep track of all your references. You can use it to sync up all your research data for immediate access on any platform. They offer a special student discount, and you can download a free trial version to decide if it’s the right choice for you.
One of the most versatile and brilliant free apps that can help you with your writing is Mendeley, which does pretty much everything but write instead of you. You can use it to manage and organize your references, but also as a network through which you can collaborate with other students. It also allows you to create your own bibliographies, import papers and data from other services, and find papers on the topic you are currently writing about. Premium version also available.
Getting all your citations just right can be a difficult and boring task, which is why we recommend you start use BibMe, which is capable of generating citations automatically. It supports all citation styles, and it’s completely free to use.
You should always back up both your research data and your essays and the easiest way to do that is to use Dropbox. Its interface is very intuitive and streamlined, and you can upload each document from your computer in a matter of seconds, because it integrates itself into the context menus of your operative system. It’s completely free.
If you are used to working with Google Docs, or if you need more storage space than you get with Dropbox, Google Drive is a free alternative, and you can always buy additional storage space.
These tools will shoulder some of the burden that comes with paper writing. As you can see, you don’t have be a jack of all trades to write an essay.
In fact, even if you are one, we would still advise you to rely on these tools and apps because they will do some of the stuff for you, so you can focus on the topic of your essay, which is what matters the most.
Author: Kenneth Waldman is a professional content writer with over 5 years of experience. His expertise includes education, marketing, freelancing. You can get in touch with him on LinkedIn.