Writing Pathway

Writing Pathway


Writing is one of the fundamental skills in English, and includes a variety of subareas, including grammar, sentence construction, paragraph writing, research and source citation, and a variety styles and structures from academic essays to cover letters and graduate admission essays.



Come to the English Language Support Service where the Visiting Tutors can help you target those areas of writing that you need the most work on and develop an independent learning plan that addresses those particular needs. You can bring in a short writing sample for us to look over and use as a starting point to think about ways to improve your writing, get suggestions for some tools and activities to improve your grammar, ask us about how to structure a particular kind of essay or other writing task (cover letter, graduate school statement of purpose, etc.), or even target particular writing based skills such as writing for the IELTS exam or summarizing. Come to the ELSS in LBY 202 and see what the Visiting Tutors can do for you, we are here to help!



Writing Tutorial Service

The Writing Tutorial Service is a resource open to all UGC students at Lingnan University. The aims of the service are to encourage reflection and evaluation of writing through critical thinking and exploration. Tutees develop their writing skills through discussion and guided tasks on textual elements; such as, structure, style, expression, argumentation, conventions of grammar and word usage.

Tutorials are held in MLLC Room 2 on the second floor of the Library unless indicated otherwise on the timetable. Interested students can sign up for a time slot on Moodle.


Writing books

There are many other books on academic writing available for loan from the LU Library. You could work your way through one of these books or select useful chapters for work on your own or with a friend.

Here are a few other texts available in Lingnans library:

P         Exploring Academic English by Jennifer Thurstun and Christopher N. Candlin

P         Writing Logically, Thinking Critically by Shelia Cooper and Rosemary Patton

P         They Say/I Say: the moves that matter in academic writing by Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein

P         The Academic Writers Handbook by Leonard J. Rosen

P         A Writers Reference by Diana Hacker

P         Writing Academic English by Alice Oshima and Anne Hogue


There are a multitude of resources available to you online that focus on the different areas of writing. To find the ones most useful for you, take a look at the categories below.

Needs analysis

To begin thinking about improving your writing, it is useful to consider what your particular needs are. Once you have decided what you want to work on, it is easier to develop a plan for how to accomplish that goal and what resources will be most useful for you.



The best source to help improve your grammar is by using Tensebusters. On that site you can take pretests on a variety of grammar areas to target your level and what you need to work on and then use interactive tutorials to improve your understanding and track improvement reassessing yourself afterword.

For more grammar resources, see the Grammar Pathway.

Sentence construction

These OWL resources will help you with sentence level organization and style. This area includes resources on writing issues, such as active and passive voice, parallel sentence structure, parts of speech, and transitions.

These OWL resources offer information and exercises on how to clarify sentences and specifically discuss sentence clauses, sentence fragments, sentence structure, and subject-verb agreement.

These OWL resources contain information on how to write clear and strong sentences and include exercises on how to eliminate wordiness.

Essay writing

General essay writing resources

Practical advice on academic writing
This website offers practical advice on academic writing: reading and researching, planning and organizing essays, using sources, and editing.

Insightful writers. Informed writers
This website contains tips on academic writing and many featured articles to inspire academic writers.

The Writing Machine
The HKU English Centre guide to writing better academic essays.

What is an academic essay?
From Sussex Language Institute of the University of Sussex. A comprehensive guidelines on academic writing.

Academic Writing Styles
This writing based website is a useful page full of PDF files that offer valuable explanations on academic writing styles. There are links to files on how to interpret writing tasks, how to structure your writing, how to use sources, and on how to write using an academic voice.

Advanced Composition for Non-Native Speakers of English
This site was designed for non-native speakers looking to improve their written work. On the site there are many useful guides on how to write different types of essays. Also, there are many tools to help improve grammar and reading skills.

Academic essay writing checklist

The writing process

Steps in Process Writing - an ordering activity

Structure and organization

Writing Argumentative Essays
A detailed Web textbook with exercises on how to write argumentative essays (by Bill Daly).

Cause and Effect
This exercise introduces the vocabulary and grammar needed to describe causes and effects. Includes an exercise.

The Order of an Essay
Putting essay paragraphs in the correct order

Categorisation is dividing a topic into sub-topics. Some topics can be divided into a small number of sub-topics that account for all of the topic. This exercise introduces the vocabulary and grammar needed for the function ofcategorisation.

Because academic writing usually reports on research, and in your research area there may be information that you have not found, exceptions to the rules that you find, and the situation may change over time. This exercise teaches you how to use more cautious language when stating your point to avoid mistakes.

Exercise on definition, comparison and contrast.

Coherence in a Text on Palmistry
An exercise on creating coherence in an essay.

Word choice and grammar

Academic Grammar
The HKU English Centre guide to essay writing and literature reviews for social science students, but a lot of the advice is useful for students from other faculties.

Formal and Informal Sentences

Common Errors in Formality in Academic Writing

Using precise words

Replacing idioms with formal verbs

Features of Academic Writing
From UEFAP (Using English for Academic Purposes),University of Hertfordshire, UK. A site that introduces six features of academic writing.

Academic Writing Skills
The Learning Centre at North Coast University provides a great overview with examples of academic writing.

The Common Error Detector
Copy and paste your essay into the box and the Error Detector finds some common problems in academic essay writing and gives you tips how to solve them.


Other essay writing resources

Reference materials on critical writing
From Colorado State University Writing Center. Short readable references on writing of all kinds.

Explanation of functions in essay titles, and an exercise on which functions to use

Introductory Paragraph Techniques
Identify four basic techniques for composing the opening statement of your introductory paragraph: the general statement, the rhetorical question, the impact statement, and the anecdote.


Technical writing

Online technical writing
A detailed Web textbook on technical writing from Austin Community College, Texas

Writing Guidelines for Engineering and Science Students
Formats, checklists and models for a range of technical writing including laboratory reports, proposals, progress reports and business correspondence. Hosted by Virginia Tech.


Tools for thinking about writing

Pizzaz - People Interested in Zippy and ZAny Zcribbling

A collection of creative ideas for writing activities using the Internet as a resource. The ideas are in the form of classroom handouts, but you could easily use them for self-study especially in pairs or small groups.

Good point!
A site for reading and sharing points on topics that you can use for essays, discussions and presentations.

Generating ideas and organising writing with mind-maps and journalistic questioning.

Organisation Tool
Helps you to re-organise lists; e.g. lists of topics to put in essays.

Pros and Cons Calculator
Helps you decide which side of an argument is stronger


Style Guides

Grammar and Style Notes
A miscellany of grammatical rules and explanations, comments on style, and suggestions on usage (by Jack Lynch)

Strunk: The Elements of Style
Many American writers swear by a book by Strunk & White called 'The Elements of Style'. This is a link to the original 1918 version, which many writers still admire.


Online Writing Labs (OWLs)

Purdue University OWL
The Online Writery (Missouri University)

The Writer's Handbook (UW-Madison)


APA and Resource Citation

Research and Documentation Online
Diana Hacker and Barbara Fisters page on how to find and cite sources using the major citation styles V MLA, Chicago, and APA.

Citing Sources
Duke Universitys site on how to create a Works Cited and in-text citations according to the various citation styles and avoid plagiarism.

Referencing Pages
An overview of using sources and referencing

Reference Machine
A program to help you write references. You fill in the boxes with the author's name etc. and the computer formats the reference for you. You can use one of the following styles:

APA style: for an in-text citation, a book, an article in a journal, a chapter in an edited volume, a newspaper or magazine article, or an Internet reference.

Referencing Exercises: Spot the errors and correct them in in-text references and in bibliographical references.

Choosing whether to use a quotation, summary or paraphrase.

Secondary citation

Example academic essay
 with the quotations, summaries and paraphrases highlighted. It also contains in-text citations and references. The topic is how to design navigation for Internet pages.

Additional style guides are available for download from the ELSS website.

Other types of writing

The following sites have information, templates, and practice activities related to different types of writing, particularly the different types of letters.

How to write memos

How to write e-mail

Arranging a Meeting

Enquiry letters

Complaint letters

Adjustment letters

Job Application letters

Reference letters

Writing Exercises
Academic writing exercises on paragraphing


On this website you can find many writing exercises for self-directed study on academic writing.

Academic writing exercises


A wide variety of interactive English grammar, listening and reading exercises for academic writing.

Academic Writing Exercises

Writing Exercises
This site is continuously updated to provide exercises on writing. Extracts from authentic writing are used.

BBC Skillswise
 website is full of worksheets to improve sentence structure. There are also quizes and games that students can take to improve their English.

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