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Digital Tools for Academic Writing

This is a working list of various digital / online writing tools that you might choose to aid your writing.  Please note that the KU Writing Center offers links to the websites and software systems listed below only as resources for students. It does not endorse any one site in particular and is not responsible for how students choose to use these resources.

Is there a resource you use and think it should be made available to other students? Let us know!  E-mail us at writing@ku.edu.

Plagiarism Checkers

Writers using plagiarism checkers should be aware of their documented limitations. If you use a plagiarism checker, you should look closely at the flagged text to see if it is in fact plagiarized, as these checkers can miss properly formatted citations.

A researcher from The University of Texas at Austin found that Google was faster and more accurate at detecting potentially plagiarized text when used to search for strings of three to five nouns from an essay than other plagiarism detectors. Another benefit of using Google to search your essays is that it is free. For more information on the study and results, see "What is Detected" (2015).

Focus Writing

  • FocusWriter 
    Free open source writer app, goes into full screen when writing, can customize background and typing sounds, etc.
  • ZenWriter 
    similar function, not free
  • Ommwriter 
    similar function, supports Markdown input, not free
  • Writer
    online focus writing tool, cloud saving, texts can be exported into different document formats
  • StayFocusd
    Google Chrome app, limits time you spend on time-wasting sites like Twitter

Group Writing Projects

  • DropBox
    synch, upload and share your documents easily
  • Google Drive
    similar to Dropbox, can edit documents in google drive (only the Google document formats)
  • Penflip
    a very simple web service to write group projects, easy to track changes of each document
  • Evernote
    note taking software, can create notebooks and collaborate with other authors
  • Trello
    organize projects into boards, members can collaborate, assign tasks, track progress via different functions provided by Trello
  • Kona
    file sharing, online scheduling, task management in one space
  • Zoho projects
    powerful online project management service

Mind Mapping/Brainstorming

  • Mohiomap
    visualizes what's in your Evernote and Dropbox, can create dynamic maps that visualize the connections between documents in your Dropbox and in your Evernote
  • FreeMind
    a highly customizable, free mind mapping software
  • Coggle
    online mind mapping tool, free to use, can collaborate with others in creating mind map, can track changes, supports Markdown input
  • XMind
    mind mapping software, a free version and a pro version
  • Mindjet
    said to be the best mind mapping tool, but not free

Reference/Data Collection

  • Endnote
    available to download from KU, and KU also holds workshops on how to use it
  • Zotero
    useful research tool to quickly save online data into your personal library, also able to obtain reference information (for citations) from some webpages
  • Evernote webclipper
    easily save webpages in various formats, but unlike Zotero, it cannot generate reference information


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