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An Introduction to Our Newest Resource

October 4, 2013

Exploring Writer’s Help

By: C.C. Hendricks, with Consultant Contributions 


As technology and the Internet continue to alter how we learn about, interact with, and respond to the world around us, and as we become what many have called the “Google generation,” it comes as no surprise that academic writing resources have begun transitioning to online mediums. ASU became one of over one hundred schools around the US to adopt the online reference tool, Writer’s Help, published by Bedford/St. Martin’s. Replacing the print Writer’s Reference handbook, the Writer’s Help site will be used by first and second year Composition students, as well as here in the University Writing Center (UWC). Across campus, faculty and students are using Writer’s Help to create effective and original composition that adheres to the conventions of particular assignments and academic writing in general.

So, what does the Writer’s Help site offer?

Anything that the Writer’s Reference print source did, plus much, much more. The site is equipped with a student-friendly search feature as well as an easy-to-navigate table of contents. The most useful features of Writer’s Help for ASU students, both in and outside of the writing center, include

  • A Variety of Documentation Information and Examples (MLA, APA, Chicago, etc.)
  • Keyword Search Tool (Generated with the most common student search terms)
  • Quick Help Exercise (For content, correctness, and documentation)
  • Sample Student Papers (For every documentation style and annotated with instructions)

While the Writer’s Help site provides a plethora of information on the writing process, as well as helpful features for both students and UWC consultants, many may ask, “Is an online handbook better than a print?” In addition to the added features, as well as interactive searching and exercises, the Writer’s Help site also provides an ease of access for students and UWC consultants. Without a tangible handbook to keep up with, students and consultants can easily access Writer’s Help from any computer or mobile device equipped with the Internet. In addition, students and consultants are able to locate a specific area, focus, or question within Writer’s Help with one click of the mouse or one search of a keyword term.

About the Authors of Writer’s Help

Diana Hacker developed and class-tested her handbooks with nearly four thousand students over 35 years at Prince George’s Community College in Maryland. Her books include The Bedford Handbook, A Writer’s Reference, Rules for Writers, and A Pocket Style Manual.

Stephen A. Bernhardt is professor of English at the University of Delaware. He led the research at the core of Writer’s Help about how students search, and then he adapted the advice, examples, and organization for the online environment.

Nancy Sommers teaches writing at Harvard University. The advice in Writer’s Help is informed by her work investigating the challenges students face with academic writing and the skills students need to meet those challenges.

 What are other colleges saying about Writer’s Help?

Writer’s Help is an excellent online guide to research, grammar, and style with user-friendly searching and tagging features—all in a digital environment familiar to students.”

–Martin Broadwell, Western Kentucky University

“Amazingly simple.”

–Ron Christiansen, Salt Lake Community College

“An online handbook is something my students are comfortable with, considering they’re the ‘Google generation’.”

–Colleen Burton, Front Range Community College

What do UWC consultants have to say about using Writer’s Help?


Jerry Yelton: “I like Writer’s Help so much better than the Writer’s Reference. It’s more intuitive, especially with the key word search feature, which helps you find what you need a lot faster. I have used it in three or four UWC sessions already!”

Kevin Hagan: “I really like the customizable panels in Writer’s Help. They allow consultants to list and easily access students’ most frequently asked questions.”


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