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Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL)

TWO reviews

(Review 1:  Winter 2012)

Reviewer: Miaoling Lin

Recommendation: Highly Recommended


The Online Writing Lab was created by Dr. Muriel Harris (former director and founder of the Purdue Writing Lab) and David Taylor (former graduate student in Education Computing) in 1994.  It is the world’s first online writing lab which aims to provide writers all around the world with writing resource and instructional materials. Now, many OWL coordinators, consultants, and staff are devoted to this website. The staff of this website wrote, “The OWL has grown into a popular web-site that received over 161 million hits in 2009-2010. It currently houses more than 200 handouts.” Power Point presentations and new discipline-specific writing materials are available via continual revision and updates.


This website was created and is operated by the staff of a professional academic organization. Writers who seek help don’t need to worry about unprofessional or unauthentic materials and suggestions. Besides, it systematically offers free information on all aspects of writing, for example, writing and teaching writing, research, grammar and mechanics, style guides, professional writing, etc. It is a great complement to classroom instruction, a supplement to face-to-face tutorials, and a stand-alone reference for writers. Moreover, the OWL staff keeps redesigning and revising the site and continues generating new content management system to make it more usable. They also keep updating information and knowledge, which I think is the most important factor for a good learning resource. The last reason why this website impresses me so much is because of its clear, orderly, systematical layout which makes it delightful and comfortable to browse, and of course, there are no annoying advertisements.

Subject Headings

general writing, research and citation, teaching and tutoring, subject specific writing, job search writing, ESL

(Review 2: Winter 2015)

Reviewer:  Yiping Kuang

Recommendation:  Strongly recommended


Launched in 1994 by Purdue University, the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) is the world’s first online writing lab, which serves as a great writing resource for both teachers and students around the world. All resources from Purdue OWL are free to download without entering any personal identification. It is so popular that it had received 248 million hits by 2013-2014. Harvard College Writing Center also provides this website link as a useful outside resource to students.

Purdue OWL covers various perspectives under six sub-sections: general writing, research and citation, subject specific writing, teacher and tutor resources, job search writing, and ESL. The webpages are well designed with clear navigation. The sidebars on the left side of the page list the subcategories, giving users a good hint for what information is coming next. Besides, it contains no commercials.


In fact, Purdue OWL offers resources for grade 7-12 too, but these are not as detailed as the one for college students. Thus, I strongly recommend this website to teachers and students above college level rather than for other levels. Teachers and trainers can find free PowerPoint files and a number of outside links for in-class and offsite teaching. As for students, they can use Purdue OWL to complement classroom instructions, learning by themselves with detailed examples, especially when they are confused with either APA or MLA citations.

I personally use Purdue OWL for correcting my writing format, and I know, in our college, it is highly recommended to students by writing teachers and tutors as well.  In addition, it contributes to ESL teaching and learning by providing common norms and giving guidance in academic writing. Overall, Purdue OWL is a powerful website for academic writing.

Subject headings:  College level, Teachers and students, Academic writing