The guides collected here offer writers several options for engaging in writing activities in new ways, and possibly with new tools. For example, while it’s likely that you may have written an outline before, you may not have used a mind-mapping app on your phone to gather ideas, exported those ideas into an outlining app, then hidden parts of that outline from view to focus solely on detailing the logical flow of the third section’s arguments and examples. These guides aim to show you what you can do with new writing tools and why you might want to give it a try.

Right now, you may have managed writing assignments easily enough, just typing an essay from top to bottom in a word processor like Google Docs. As the opportunities for writing more complex and refined documents grow, you’ll benefit from adding some new tools to your writing toolbox. There are a wide variety of ways to write and more tools than you probably knew about to support you. The core argument of these guides is that experimenting with these tools and writing practices before you’re faced with a huge writing project will give you the practice and capacity to use these new tools and practices in ways that make your writing better (both the document itself and your experience of writing).

Generating Ideas, Plans, and First Drafts

Getting started with a larger writing task can often feel like trying to climb a mountain in one step. Luckily, there are a long list of activities one can try that help make the process feel more manageable.

Screenshot of a mind mapping app. Screenshot of notecards bundled together as a DIY notebook. Screenshot of a Microsoft Word outline.
This guide covers generating ideas with mind maps, paper, and outlines.

Managing Research Papers and Other Longer Writing Projects

There are a number of writing practices and software tools that can help you manage longer and more complex writing tasks. This guide covers a few key techniques and introduces custom writing software that supports these techniques in unique ways.

Screenshot of writing app Scrivener. Screenshot of Google Docs comments thread. Screenshot of writing app Ulysses with word count display.
This guide covers ways to use writing apps to manage longer and more complex writing projects.

Providing Writing Feedback

Providing useful feedback to other writers is a crucial skill for any writer because it helps you learn to see papers from other people’s point of view. This guide describes several ways to provide feedback using different software features.

Screenshot of a comment in Google Docs. Screenshot of digital ink in Microsoft Word. Screenshot of several comments in Microsoft Word.
This guide covers the many ways to provide and receive feedback on digital documents.

Managing File Formats

While there are many benefits to working with a range of software and hardware tools for writing, one of the complexities created is that you now need to deal with different formats of files. Even restricting yourself to Microsoft Word or Google Docs, however, will not save you from this issue in the long run, because you will encounter people who cannot read your file properly, or your software may update leaving your older files unreadable, or Google Docs may mangle a file sent to you from someone else using Word or some other tool. Better to learn to sort out and manage the many different file formats used by writing software.

Screenshot of file icons on a Mac. Screenshot of Pages document being saved as a Word file format document. Screenshot of Scrivener project being saved as a Word file format document.
This guide explains different formats for saving files and how to choose between them.

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