Amazing apps for student essayists and young writers

Oct 23, 2014

These five applications help students generate writing topics, write essays (including bibliographies), and edit documents on their mobile devices.

Although there is a widespread push toward subjects based in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), 21st century jobs also require the ability to effectively communicate. These five applications help students generate writing topics, write essays (including bibliographies), and edit documents on their mobile devices.

Scribblenauts Remix (iOS, Android $0.99)

Scribblenauts Remix from Warner Bros. is a mobile game that can help spark the creativity of elementary school children. Each level presents a puzzle the game’s main character Maxwell must solve, and users do so by typing in specific objects, animals, vehicles, and more. Students can apply this form of problem solving to their writing and brainstorming for creative writing projects. If students want to create a “flying monkey” or a “giant mouse” all they have to do is type! Teachers can also use this game to show how to sequence noun and adjective forms.

PaperHelper – Easiest Essay Writer (iOS $0.99)

This iPad app puts writing and research side-by-side. PaperHelper divides an iPad’s real estate in half, letting students craft their essay on the left and research websites on the right. In addition, the app features spell check, a dictionary, voice memos, and lets students export their essays to Dropbox, Pages, Google Docs, Edmodo, a PDF reader, and more. PaperHelper has a built-in source tracker for websites used in essays. All in all, it’s a great writing expedient for the classroom, the library, or at home. Teachers and parents should check student progress, of course, to make sure they are using appropriate secondary sources.

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Lists for Writers – ideas for creative writing (iOS $3.99, Android $1.99)

Featured in Apple’s Education section for multiple grade levels, Lists for Writers is an ad-free brainstorming app applicable for formal essays and creative writing. Students enrolled in creative writing courses will find this app irreplaceable for coming up with characters, settings, personality traits, or plots. For teenagers, Lists for Writers smartens the verbal flow of research or personal essays by providing character-specific adjectives, action verbs, transitional phrases, and common misspellings. The notepad and dictionary features are certainly helpful, as students will not need to multitask with background apps.

Daedalus Touch – Text Editor for iCloud (iOS $0.99)

Daedalus Touch avoids files and folders altogether, using stacks of sheets and boasting its viability as a  “next-gen text editor” compatible with iOS 7 or higher. The app removes the tediousness from ‘paper’ management, opting for a flick and drag-and-drop graphical interface. All ‘stacks’ are saved on iCloud and update across every device and personal computers. Daedalus Touch includes global search, a character and word counter, built-in web browsing, and so much more. So what’s the one main drawback to those downloading the app for the first time? In order to export files to open in other programs on iOS desktops or laptops, you need to purchase the Export Pack for $1.99. We recommend buying the All-In-One Pack which also grants access to Fonts and Themes and manual syncing to Dropbox and file sharing services.

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EasyBib (iOS, Android Free)

Writing a bibliography can be time-consuming and difficult, as it takes more effort for some to master and memorize the protocol for citing all of the necessary information. EasyBib’s official mobile contribution for students, essayists and writers of all ages simplifies the process of citing print books to accompany other sources like websites, articles, and scholarly journals. The app’s built-in barcode allows students to capture all relevant information by scanning the back cover and format citations in MLA, APA, or Chicago styles. You then email citation lists to yourself or others for quick access on EasyBib’s website or copy-and-paste into your preferred word processor.

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Stephen Danos

Stephen Danos is the Associate Editor for,, and Appolicious. He has contributed to articles published on TechCrunchThe Chicago Sun TimesThe Chicago Tribune, and elsewhere.

He received his BA in English from the University of Iowa and MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia College Chicago. He is the author of two poetry chapbooks, Playhouse State (H_NGM_N Books, 2012) and Gravitational (The New Megaphone, forthcoming).

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