For many college students, the most welcoming spot on campus is the writing center: a place where trained tutors offer individual assistance on all aspects of the composing process. If you need help organizing an essay, formatting a bibliography, or mending a few run-on sentences, the writing center is the place to go.
But what if you're not enrolled in a college or university? The good news is that you can still take advantage of the services of a writing center--by way of the Web. The International Writing Centers Association provides links to dozens of online writing labs (commonly called OWLs). Most of these are free and open to the public.
Now, don't count on any of the OWLs to compose or proofread an essay for you. They're not paper mills or fix-it shops. But they will offer resources and advice to help you improve your own work and become a better writer.
To expedite your search for a suitable OWL, we've picked out what we think are the Top Four Online Writing Labs. And if you know of any great OWLs that should be added to the list, please tell us about them by clicking on the "comment" button below.