Free stuff — writing tips

There is material available on the Internet that can help with your writing. There are dictionaries, thesauri, style guides, books on grammar and usage and references to the most obscure facts you might need. There are articles offering guidance on every part of the writing task. Here is the beginning of a list of links to some of them, roughly classified by topic.

Substitute damn every time you’re inclined to write very; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.

-Mark Twain, author and humorist (1835-1910)


Sometimes you want an old, conservative dictionary to discover an "original" meaning. Sometimes you want a modern dictionary to get clarification on a new word. Occasionally you even want several dictionaries to get a better range of meanings. My favourite and desk-side companion is the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, giving etymological data showing where a word has been, but that often needs supplementing with more recent sources, such as the ones below (try to ignore the advertisements while you search for what you need).




Cambridge Dictionaries Online

Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary


(Dare I say — that's the plural of thesaurus?) It all started with Roget in 1852. Now, who can get by without lists of synonyms and antonyms? What better way to get the creative juices flowing than by browsing through terms similar to the one that's stuck in your brain? When all you had was "good" and now you've found "advantageous" your story can take on a whole new perspective. A fairly recent edition of Roget's Thesaurus accompanies the Shorter Oxford on my desk and here are links to some others online.

Merriam-Webster Online Thesaurus

Merriam-Webster Online Thesaurus Conveniently, Merriam-Webster provide both a dictionary and a thesaurus on the same page.

ARTFL Project: ROGET'S Thesaurus Search Form

ARTFL Project: ROGET'S Thesaurus Search Form For those not afraid to experiment, here's an experimental thesaurus project. It uses the 1911 edition of the famous thesaurus.

bartleby.com Roget's Thesaurus

bartleby.com ("Great Books Online") lets you search many classic works; here's Roget's Thesaurus.

Style Guides

The Economist Style Guide

Economist Style Guide Let's start with a style guide you are probably unfamiliar with.

The Chicago Manual of Style

The CMS Now the biggie! Is this the world's best-known style guide?

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