Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Handy References

The writer on a roll doesn't have to go rolling down the street just to get information that can be readily available and is literally at an arm's length. Get these handy references and save on time and energy:

Dictionary. I'm a huge fan of Oxford and Cambridge dictionaries so I personally recommend them. But I would say that Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary is just as good. You can choose to have both print and CD versions of your dictionary of choice as long as you can easily find the word that you're looking for.

Thesaurus. Remember that this is as indispensable as the dictionary. You can also get a print or a CD version of this. I personally recommend Roget's Thesaurus. Don't rely on your word processor's thesaurus -- it sometimes gives the wrong advice. ;o)

Dictionary of English Usage. Make sure that you're using the right word in the right context. When in doubt, consult a dictionary of English usage. I use Merriam-Webster's Concise Dictionary of English Usage. Other writers prefer Fowler's Modern English Usage. Take your pick.

Desk Encyclopedia. I recommend a desk edition of encyclopedia just for quick reference. You can always resell your copy a year later and get an updated edition. Of course, it's best if you can get a CD version of your favorite encyclopedia.

Grammar Book. It's good to refresh your knowledge of grammar once in a while, sans your scary grammar school teacher. I personally use grammmar books published by Oxford. But you can use any grammar reference which you're most comfortable with --even the one that you used during your freshman year at the university.

Style Guide. Every writer must have one. I personally recommend the Chicago Manual of Style for everything - books, newspapers, magazines, technical documentation, web writing, etc. If you're bent on technical writing, though, try the Microsoft Manual of Style for Technical Publications.
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