Excelsior OWL

Conditions of Use


The Excelsior OWL is an open resource that supports writers as they begin the process of writing for college and as they transition to writing outside of their introductory writing classes or programs. The OWL offers a wide variety of interactive multimedia activities, quizzes, videos, interactive PDFs, and games – all designed to help writers understand important concepts about writing. The Excelsior OWL supports students in online or traditional classrooms and can be useful in “flipping” a curriculum. The content of the Excelsior OWL focuses on best practices in the field of writing instruction and provides support for students during the writing process and in a variety of rhetorical situations. The Excelsior OWL emphasizes that there is no one “right” way to write and teaches students to use basic rhetorical concepts to evaluate a situation and respond well. The Excelsior OWL also focuses on helping students make connections from their writing courses to writing across the disciplines and beyond.

Writing teachers can use the “Owlets” feature (drag and drop), in essence, a “Make-your-own-OWL tool” to customize the OWL for their class and create a unique landing page for students.

The Excelsior OWL includes:

The Writing Process


Citation and Documentation

Rhetorical Styles

Argument and Critical Thinking

Online Writing and Presentations

Grammar Essentials

Avoiding Plagiarism

ESL Writing Workshop

Writing in the Disciplines

OWL Video Game


Rhetoric and Composition Handbooks

Writing in College: From Competence to Excellence

Amy Guptill, SUNY Brockport

Pub Date: 2016

ISBN 13: 978-1-9423412-1-5

Publisher: Open SUNY

Conditions of Use


According to the author, an Associate Professor of Sociology at SUNY Brockport:

Writing in College is designed for students who have largely mastered high-school level conventions of formal academic writing and are now moving beyond the five-paragraph essay to more advanced engagement with text. It is well suited to composition courses or first-year seminars and valuable as a supplemental or recommended text in other writing-intensive classes. It provides a friendly, down-to-earth introduction to professors’ goals and expectations, demystifying the norms of the academy and how they shape college writing assignments. Each of the nine chapters can be read separately, and each includes suggested exercises to bring the main messages to life.

The text focuses on helping students transition from high school to college writing, by examining the expectations of college professors.

There are nine chapters:

Really? Writing? Again?

What Does the Professor Want? Understanding the Assignment

Constructing the Thesis and Argument—From the Ground Up

Secondary Sources in Their Natural Habitats

Listening to Sources, Talking to Sources

Back to Basics: The Perfect Paragraph

Intros and Outros

Clarity and Concision

Getting the Mechanics Right


A Rhetoric of Literate Action: Literate Action Volume 1

Charles Bazerman, University of California, Santa Barbara

Pub Date: 2013

ISBN 13: 978-1-6023547-5-3

Publisher: WAC Clearinghouse

Conditions of Use


Charles Bazerman, Professor of Education at the University of California, Santa Barbara. According to the author:

The first in a two-volume set, A Rhetoric of Literate Action is written for “the experienced writer with a substantial repertoire of skills, [who] now would find it useful to think in more fundamental strategic terms about what they want their texts to accomplish, what form the texts might take, how to develop specific contents, and how to arrange the work of writing.” The reader is offered a framework for identifying and understanding the situations writing comes out of and is directed toward; a consideration of how a text works to transform a situation and achieve the writer’s motives; and advice on how to bring the text to completion and “how to manage the work and one’s own emotions and energies so as to accomplish the work most effectively.”

The book is organized into twelve chapters:

Chapter 1. Rhetorics of Speaking and Writing

Chapter 2. Knowing Where You Are: Genre

Chapter 3. When You Are

Chapter 4. The World of Texts: Intertextuality

Chapter 5. Changing the Landscape: Kairos, Social Facts, and Speech Acts

Chapter 6. Emergent Motives, Situations, Forms

Chapter 7. Text Strategics

Chapter 8. Emergent Form and the Processes of Forming Meaning

Chapter 9. Meanings and Representations

Chapter 10.Spaces and Journeys for Readers: Organization and Movement

Chapter 11. Style and Revision

Chapter 12. Managing Writing Processes and the Emergent Text


This is a sophisticated rhetorical text designed for advanced writing courses. As the introduction states, “The advice of this book is for the experienced writer with a substantial repertoire of skills, and now would find it useful to think in more fundamental strategic terms about what they want their texts to accomplish, what form the texts might take, how to develop specific contents, and how to arrange the work of writing.” Although there are a few menitons of multimedia writing, “the focus is on the written word.”


A Rhetoric of Literate Action: Literate Action Volume 2

Charles Bazerman, University of California, Santa Barbara

Pub Date: 2013

ISBN 13: 978-1-6023547-9-1

Publisher: WAC Clearinghouse

Conditions of Use


According to the author,

The second in a two-volume set, A Theory of Literate Action draws on work from the social sciences—and in particular sociocultural psychology, phenomenological sociology, and the pragmatic tradition of social science—to “reconceive rhetoric fundamentally around the problems of written communication rather than around rhetoric’s founding concerns of high stakes, agonistic, oral public persuasion” (p. 3). An expression of more than a quarter-century of reflection and scholarly inquiry, this volume represents a significant contribution to contemporary rhetorical theory.

Chapter 1. The Symbolic Animal and the Cultural Transformation of Nature

Chapter 2. Symbolic Selves in Society: Vygotsky on Language and Formation of the Social Mind

Chapter 3. Active Social Symbolic Selves: Vygotskian Traditions

Chapter 4. Active Social Symbolic Selves: The Phenomenological Sociology Tradition

Chapter 5. Active Social Symbolic Selves: The Pragmatic Tradition within American Social Science

Chapter 6. Social Order: Structural and Structurational Sociology

Chapter 7. From the Interaction Order to Shared Meanings

Chapter 8. Linguistic Orders

Chapter 9. Utterances and Their Meanings

Chapter 10. The World in the Text: Indexed and Created

Chapter 11. The Writer on the Spot and on the Line


Appropriate for an advanced rhetoric class, rather than as a textbook in a first year writing course.


About Writing: A Guide

Robin Jeffrey, Klamath Community College

Pub Date: 2016

ISBN 13:

Publisher: Open Oregon Educational Resources

Conditions of Use



Types of Writing Styles

Understanding the Assignment

Assessing the Writing Situation

Test Your Thesis

Constructing an Outline

Checklist: Planning a Document


Visuals Help You Communicate

Academic writing

Active Reading

Analyzing a Text

Rhetorical Concepts

Academic Writing: Point of View

Academic Writing: Verb Tense

How to: Write a Summary

Countering Opposing Arguments

Putting Inductive Reasoning to the Test

Most Common Evidence Used by Authors


Keyword Searching: Do it Better!

Is this source scholarly?

Evaluating Sources

Evaluating Web Sources

What Do You Need for a Citation?

Avoiding Plagiarism


What is MLA, APA, and CMS?

MLA Signal Phrases

MLA Citation Examples

APA Signal Phrases

APA Citation Examples

CMS Signal Phrases

Basic Grammar

Introducing… Subordinate Clauses!

Grammatical Sentences

Subject-Verb Agreement

Should You Use –s (or –es) for a Present-Tense Verb?

Is Your Sentence a Fragment?

Is Your Sentence a Run-On?

Does Your Sentence Have a Dangling Modifier?

Multilingual Writers and ESL Challenges

Verb Forms: The Basics

Verb Tenses: Active Voice

Verb Tenses: Passive Voice

The Meaning of Modals


Articles for Common Nouns

Non-count Nouns

Geography and ‘The’

How to Order Cumulative Adjectives

Three Magic Words: At, On, and In

Combo Time! – Adjectives & Prepositions

Combo Time! – Verbs & Prepositions


A strategy for analyzing and revising a first draft

Checklist: Revision

How to: Be a Constructive Peer Reviewer

This writer’s reference condenses and covers everything a beginning writing student should need to successfully compose college-level work. The book covers the basics of composition and revising, including how to build a strong thesis, how to peer review a fellow student’s work, and a handy checklist for revision, before moving on to a broad overview of academic writing. Included for those students who need writing help at the most basic level are comprehensive sections on sentence style and grammar, verbs, nouns and other tenets of basic grammar. Finally, the sections on research and citation should help any student find solid evidence for their school work and cite it correctly, as well as encouraging an understanding of why citation is so important in the first place. This is a guide that is useful to writing students of all levels, either as a direct teaching tool or a simple reference.


This textbook is clearly intended for first year college writing students.


Writing Spaces: Readings on Writing, Volume 1

Edited by Charlie Lowe and Pavel Zemliansky.

Conditions of Use


Writing Spaces: Readings on Writing is a book series containing peer-reviewed collections of essays–all composed by teachers for students–with each volume freely available for download under a Creative Commons license. The Writing Spaces’ aims to build a library of quality open textbooks for the writing classroom as an alternative to costly textbooks.

Each series collection will contain engaging essays from different writing teachers in the field and will explore important topics about writing in a manner and style accessible both to teachers and students. In each chapter, authors present their unique views, insights, and strategies for writing by addressing the undergraduate reader directly. Drawing on their own experiences, these teachers-as-writers invite students to join in the larger conversation about developing nearly every aspect of their craft. Consequently, each essay functions as a standalone text that will easily complement other selected readings in writing or writing-intensive courses across the disciplines at any level.

The contents of Volume I include:

Introduction: Open Source Composition Texts Arrive for College Writers by Robert E. Cummings

What is Academic Writing by L. Lennie Irvin

So You’ve Got a Writing Assignment. Now What? by Corrine E. Hinton

The Inspired Writer vs. the Real Writer by Sarah Allen

Backpacks vs. Briefcases: Steps Toward Rhetorical Analysis by Laura Bolin Carroll

From Topic to Presentation: Making Choices to Develop Your Writing by Beth L. Hewett

Taking Flight: Connecting Inner and Outer Realities during Invention by Susan E. Antlitz

Reinventing Invention: Discovery and Investment in Writing by Michelle D. Trim and Megan Lynn Isaac

“Finding Your Way In”: Invention as Inquiry Based Learning in First Year Writing by Steven Lessner and Collin Craig

Why Visit Your Campus Writing Center? by Ben Rafoth

Finding the Good Argument OR Why Bother With Logic? by Rebecca Jones

I Need You to Say “I”: Why First Person is Important in College Writing by Kate McKinney Maddalena

Reflective Writing and the Revision Process: What Were You Thinking? by Sandra Giles

Wikipedia Is Good for You!? by James P. Purdy

Composing the Anthology: An Exercise in Patchwriting by Christopher Leary

Collaborating Online: Digital Strategies for Group Work by Anthony T. Atkins

Navigating Genres by Kerry Dirk


Exploring Perspectives: A Concise Guide

Randall Fallows, University of California Los Angeles

Pub Date: 2011

ISBN 13: 978-1-4533114-5-5

Publisher: Saylor Foundation

Conditions of Use:


Randall Fallows is a lecturer and writing two coordinator for the Department of Writing Programs at the University of California, Los Angeles.

The first two chapters focus on the nature of an analysis and what’s involved in writing an analytical essay. After showing why each feature should be present throughout an essay, he reveals how to “set the stage” for producing one of their own. Finally, Fallows discusses the nature of writing, not as a linear procedure, but as a recursive process where the discovery and clarification of a concept occur simultaneously.The remaining three chapters reveal more specific advice on how to develop an analytical essay.

  • Chapter 1: Analysis for Multiple Perspectives
  • Chapter 2: Setting the Stage for Writing
  • Chapter 3: Developing Assertions: From a Close Reading of Examples
  • Chapter 4: Explanations and Significance: Developing Your Analysis
  • Chapter 5: The Analytical Essay: Expressing Your Points of View


This is a concise, five-chapter text that aims to help students write more effective analysis essays. It does include examples of activities to help students write their essays, as well as several writing exercises within each chapter. It would be useful within a first year writing course; however, an adaptor should be mindful of the text’s copyright restrictions.


Technical Writing

Annemarie Hamlin, Central Oregon Community College
Chris Rubio, Central Oregon Community College

Pub Date: 2016

ISBN 13:

Publisher: Open Oregon Educational Resources

Conditions of Use


This open textbook offers students of technical writing an introduction to the processes and products involved in professional, workplace, and technical writing. The text is broken up into sections reflecting key components of researching, developing, and producing a technical report. Readers will also learn about other professional communication, designing documents, and creating and integrating graphics. Written especially for an academic setting, this book provides readers with guidance on information literacy and documenting sources. This book was collected, adapted, and edited from multiple openly licensed sources.

Professional Communications

  • 1.1 Texting
  • 1.2 E-mail
  • 1.3 Netiquette
  • 1.4 Memorandums
  • 1.5 Letters
  1. Audience Analysis
  • 2.1 Types of audiences
  • 2.2 Audience analysis
  • 2.3 Adapting your writing to meet your audience’s needs
  1. Proposals
  • 3.1 Some preliminaries
  • 3.2 Types of proposals
  • 3.3 Typical scenarios for the proposal
  • 3.4 Common sections in proposals
  • 3.5 Special assignment requirements
  • 3.6 Proposals and audience
  • 3.7 Revision checklist for proposals
  1. Information Literacy
  • 4.1 Information formats
  • 4.2 The information timeline
  • 4.3 The research cycle
  • 4.4 Research tools
  • 4.5 Search strategies
  • 4.6 Evaluate sources
  1. Citations and Plagiarism
  • 5.1 Citations
  • 5.2 Plagiarism
  1. Progress Reports
  • 6.1 Functions and Contents of Progress Reports
  • 6.2 Timing and Format of Progress Reports
  • 6.3 Organizational Patterns or Sections for Progress Reports
  • 6.4 Other Parts of Progress Reports
  • 6.5 Revision Checklist for Progress Reports
  1. Outlines
  • 7.1 Creating and using outlines
  • 7.2 Developing the rough outline
  1. Creating and Integrating Graphics
  • 8.1 Deciding which graphics to include
  • 8.2 Other considerations: audience
  • 8.3 Other considerations: placement and context
  • 8.4 Samples
  • 8.5 Guidelines for graphics: a final review
  1. Ethics in Technical Writing
  • 9.1 General Principles
  • 9.2 Presentation of information
  • 9.3 Typical Ethics Issues in Technical Writing
  • 9.4 Ethics and documenting sources
  • 9.5 Ethics, Plagiarism, and Reliable Sources
  • 9.6 Professional ethics
  1. Document Design
  • 10.1 Cover letter
  • 10.2 Cover page
  • 10.3 Abstract and executive summary
  • 10.4 Table of contents
  • 10.5 List of figures and tables
  • 10.6 Introduction
  • 10.7 Body of the report


This concise text covers many aspects of technical writing. Obviously, “technical writing” is an umbrella term. The text does not try to be inclusive, but it would be useful for students in an introductory course. The text does rely on mostly open source materials.