Style, grammar, and word choice


To begin with, the comma: If you are writing for magazines and newspapers, you will typically not use the serial comma (so it will be "apples, oranges and bananas") but if you are writing for books you will (hence "apples,oranges, and bananas"). What's the best source for this kind of information on style & usage? Here are some of the staples of the editor's desk, American style (British style being different), especially the first three:

The styles clients, publishers, and authors may expect you to know (or have access to the style manual for) are primarily: Chicago, AP, APA, AMA, MLA, Microsoft, CBE/​CSE
• Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, the dictionary most often used by professional editors.
• The Chicago Manual of Style , 16th Edition (the style Bible for books and some magazines, and many professional copyeditors use the online edition). The Subversive Copy Editor offers a sneak peek at changes from the 16th edition. Free, online: Proofreaders' marks. You may also sign up for FREE Q&A alerts (a free subscription to an informative monthly e-mail).
• Panic at the Dictionary (Stefan Fatsis, New Yorker, 1-30-15) Oxford's junior dictionaries are removing words like "almond," "acorn," and "moss" to make room for words like “blog,” “chatroom,” “database." (Goodbye, nature.) (Even today at The New Yorker, Webster’s Second, first published in 1934, is preferred to Webster’s Third—though Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, now in its eleventh edition, is consulted before either.)"
• Associated Press Stylebook (The AP Stylebook and Briefing in Media Law, also available online , is standard for publication style in newspapers and some magazines). Each revision brings surprises. For example, the 2016 stylebook will lowercase the words "internet" and "web."John McIntyre felt AP had not improved in its 2013 edition. The blog AP vs. Chicago compares Associated Press style and Chicago style. If you learn from taking tests, consider AP Style Quiz Book: 101 Questions with Answers to Test your AP Stylebook Knowledge (Kindle, 28 pages).
• MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing (3rd ed., 2009, updated to cover online sources). The guide for scholarly publishing (especially citations).
• Garner's Modern English Usage (Bryan A. Garner, 4th edition). Was Garner's Modern American Usage. VERY useful--in the print edition--not so easy to use in Kindle edition). There's an app now with a digital index, which is handy as it is a hefty book. Not sure which of two words is appropriate in a given context? Go to Garner. An excellent gift to a wordsmith. Helpful Language-Change Index. Get 4th edition (2016).
• Fowler's Dictionary of Modern English Usage (ed. Jeremy Butterfield) The new improved 4th edition.

• The Oxford Essential Guide to Writing by Thomas S. Kane

Also useful:

• Words into Type, 3rd Edition (how a book is put together, supplements Chicago). Very useful; last updated in 1974.

• Wired Style (online style guide)

• The Careful Writer (or anything) by Theodore M. Bernstein, including Miss Thistlebottom's Hobgoblins: The Careful Writer's Guide to the Taboos, Bugbears, and Outmoded Rules of English Usage, Dos, Don'ts & Maybes of English Usage

If budget allows, consider subscribing to Copyediting: Language News for the Publishing Profession

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(print and online listed together)

• The ACS Style Guide: Effective Communication of Scientific Information, 3rd edition, ed. Anne M. Coghill and Lorrin R. Garson (American Chemical Society). Expect time and trouble using the ACS guide, according to Rich Adin: Style Guide Terrorism: A Formula for Failure (An American Editor, 8-19-15)
• The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms, as reviewed by Copyediting.
• AMA Style Guide (American Medical Association Manual of Style: A Guide for Authors and Editors, 10th Edition) and now also available online, by subscription. Check out Frequently asked questions and searchable online PDF of the index.
• AP Style Guide (The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing in Media Law, for journalism)
• APA Style Guide (Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th Edition), now available on KINDLE, used in psychology and the social sciences. (The 6th edition seems geared to needs of students, for essays, and academics, for theses, and its first printing is full of errors, so get the second printing. The 5th edition may be better suited to professional editors in book and journal publishing, report some editors.)
• American Sociological Association Style Guide
• Apple Style Guide (excellent free style guide for software documentation and other technical writing) pdf format
• Asian American Journalists Association Handbook to Covering Asian Americans
• Australian English dictionary. Macquarie Dictionary: Australia's National Dictionary
• Buzzfeed style guide, a free online set of standards for the internet and social media -- with a great word list (chocolaty, cisgender, cliffhanger, etc.)
• Buzzwords (recent, Macmillan Dictionary)
• The Canadian Press Stylebook: A guide for writers and editors by James McCarten
• The Canadian Style: A Guide to Writing and Editing by Public Works and Government Services Canada Translation Bureau, on Kindle) Special features include sections on Canadian geographical names and on French typographical rules. Also available online (free)

• Canadian Oxford Dictionary of Current English (ed. Katherine Barber, Robert Pontisso, Tom Howell, Heather Fitzgerald). One option is to rent it.
• CSE Manual, (formerly CBE) Scientific Style and Format: The CSE Manual for Authors, Editors, and Publishers, Council of Biology Editors (look for 8th edition in 2013)
• The COPS Office Editorial Style Manual (Community Oriented Policing Services, U.S. Dept. of Justice)
• A Dictionary of Modern Legal Usage by Bryan Garner (essential for law students)
• The Economist Style Guide. See also The Economist Style Guide, online (free). Sensible explanations of British punctuation (under P).
• The Elements of Legal Style by Bryan A. Garner
• ‘The Finkbeiner Test’, Seven rules to avoid gratuitous gender profiles of female scientists (Curtis Brainard, Columbia Journalism Review, 3-22-13)
• GLAAD Media Reference Guide(free PDF download, Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation--includes transgender glossary of terms, An Ally's Guide to Terminology: Talking About LGBT People & Equality , and other "talking about" guides, so we can in particular call members of groups what they want to be called.
• GLAAD Media Reference Guide: Transgender Issues. See also You Know You're Trans* When (a guide to such terms as "cis" and "ally," FAAB and MAAB, CAFAB and CAMAB).
• Global English Style Guide: Writing Clear, Translatable Documentation for a Global Market, by John R. Kohl, supplemented by the Global English Style Guide website. (For example, the serial comma is useful to translators because it clarifies the relationship between items on a list.)
• Guardian Style, by David Marsh and Amelia Hodsdon, British journalism style guide
• Guidelines for Ethical Editing of Theses /​ Dissertations (PDF, Editors’ Association of Canada /​ Association canadienne des r้viseurs)
• Guide to Canadian English Usage by Margery Fee and Janice McAlpine
• Handbook of Writing for the Mathematical Sciences, published by the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics; helpful on math typography and style questions
• IEEE Computer Society Style Guide, online
• Japan Style Sheet: The SWET Guide for Writers, Editors, and Translators, most useful perhaps for translators
• The Jargon File (hacker slang, interpreted). Sample from the glossary: "[404: /​/​, n. from the HTTP error “file not found on server”] Extended to humans to convey that the subject has no idea or no clue -- sapience not found. May be used reflexively; “Uh, I'm 404ing” means “I'm drawing a blank”."
• Lifehacker Tech Dictionary (once over lightly guide to internet as a whole)
• Medical Abbreviations Dictionary (mediLexicon's big database)
• Medical English Usage And Abusage by Edith Schwager
• Microsoft Manual of Style (4th edition, for content creators, journalists, technical writers, editors, and everyone else who writes about computer technology). Read an interview with the two editors, Valerie Woolley and Elizabeth Whitmire (newsletter, Puget Sound chapter, STC April-May 2012)
• Microsoft Manual of Style for Technical Publications, explains a convention, then lists correct and incorrect examples of it
• MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (7th edition, 3-09, for academic writing in English and the humanities -- no longer requires URLs for Web citations, and print is no longer primary format)
• A Molecular Biology Glossary ( Robert H. Lyons, University of Michigan DNA Sequencing Core)
• NCDJ Style Guide (National Center on Disability and Journalism), how to use appropriate language--when, for example, is it appropriate to use the terms "handicapped" or "disabled." Useful when writing about general, physical disability, visually impaired, hearing impaired, mental and cognitive disability/​seizure disorders.
• News Watch Diversity Style Guide (download free PDF, Center for Integration & Improvement of Journalism, San Francisco State University)
• NLGJA Stylebook (National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association), supplement on lesbian, gay, bisexual & transgender terminology)
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• Numbers Guide: The Essentials of Business Numeracy by Richard Stutely
• The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists (Jan Chivers). See also The Oxford Companion to Art (Harold Osborne)
• Oxford Dictionary of Reference and Allusion by Andrew Delahunty and Sheila Dignen, as reviewed by Copyediting. Also reviewed: • Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Allusions by Elizabeth Webber and Mike Feinsilber.
• The Oxford Style Manual (combines The Oxford Guide to Style, The Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors, the new Hart's Rules, and a list of 500 American words and their British equivalents)
• Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association , but also take a look at APA the Easy Way, which reduces the anguish of dealing with the APA style manual.
• Read Me First! A Style Guide for the Computer Industry, from Sun Technical Publications
• Recipes Into Type: A Handbook for Cookbook Writers and Editors by Joan Whitman and Dolores Simon (out of print; often available through
• The Recipe Writer's Handbook by Barbara Gibbs Ostmann and Jane L. Baker
• Reporting on Mental Health Style Guide (download free PDF, Team Up, Suicide Prevention Resource Center, SPRC, California)
• Scientific Style And Format: The CSE Manual for Authors, Editors, And Publishers
• Smashwords Style Guide eBook by Mark Coker. HWell-illustrated, step-by-step instructions for producing and publishing an eBook through Smashwords (free download)
• Ten Speed Press Cookbook Style Sheet (handout provided at 2003 BAEF meeting by Lorena Jones)
• Turabian (as it is called) (A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, 7th Edition: Chicago Style for Students and Researchers, ed. Kate L. Turabian, Wayne C. Booth, Gregory G. Colomb, Joseph M. Williams, University of Chicago Press
• Urban Dictionary (helpful with really current slang)
• WHO House Style (PDF; uses British spelling)
• Wikipedia Manual of Style
• The Yahoo! Style Guide: The Ultimate Sourcebook for Writing, Editing, and Creating Content for the Digital World, in both print and digital (for Kindle) editions. A guide to providing online content, with sections on making site accessible to all and search-engine optimized. Click here for supporting website, with entries on such online concerns as eye-tracking (where readers look first) and user-interface basics. See also Differences Between 'The Yahoo! Style Guide' and 'The Associated Press Stylebook'
• Style Sheets—The Setup and the Benefits . Fiction editor Beth Hill's advice on setting up a style sheet for a book of fiction (The Editor's Blog, 7-12-11).
• Diana Hacker and Barbara Fister's list of style manuals for various academic disciplines in the humanities, social sciences, history, and sciences


Mathematics into Type, updated, by Ellen Swanson, Arlene O'Sean, Antoinette Schleyer (American Mathematical Society)
Artful Sentences: Syntax as Style, by Virginia Tufte
Style: Toward Clarity and Grace, by Joseph M. Williams (on the internal logic of effective writing)
The Sense of Structure: Writing from the Reader's Perspective by George Gopen
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Wendalyn Nichols of Copyediting Newsletter (the publication has made "copyediting" one word now) turns to dictionaries for people learning English to find the proper collocation for prepositions--words that "go with" other words, that co-locate in identifiable patterns. Her example: "X is a comfort to Y" is correct, and "X is a comfort for Y" is not, but sometimes what "sounds right" will be different for Brits and for Americans. The books she refers to when checking out collocators can often be found where ESL (English as a second language) is taught:
The Cambridge Dictionary of American English
The Longman Advanced Dictionary of American English
The Macmillan English Dictionary
The Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary
Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE) now complete. Listen to audio samples of how we speak . Read the story of how it was compiled (over five decades). And take this quiz (based on the final volume, V) -- don't you love how the quiz works!?? Listen to radio program about this 50-year project on the Diane Rehm show (WAMU, NPR, rebroadcast 7-4-12).
Full dictionary now available, in five volumes:
• Dictionary of American Regional English, Vol. I: Introduction and A-C, ed. Frederic Gomes Cassidy and Joan Houston Hall
• Dictionary of American Regional English: Volume 2: D-H
• Dictionary of American Regional English, Volume III: I-O
• Dictionary of American Regional English, Volume IV: P-Sk (Joan Houston Hall)
• Dictionary of American Regional English, Volume V: Sl-Z (Joan Houston Hall)
On the same theme, see:
• Dictionary: Southern Appalachian English

I've provided links to some style "crib sheets" to get you going while you wait for those books you ordered to come. Nothing worse than having a deadline and not knowing how to do your commas or references, and not knowing the difference between when to use "caretaker" (when you're taking care of property) and when to use "caregiver" (when you're taking care of someone who's ill).

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Online Style Guides

(and scroll down for Pronunciation guides)

• Age Beat survey on style (phrases aging people hate) and Glossary and Tips on Usage (e.g., avoid "geezer")
• AHP Style Guide for Equine Publications (American Horse Publications). See also An Equestrian Writer's Guide (Susan F. Craft, Long Rivers Guild)
• Air University Style and Author Guide (helpful for editing military-related works)
• AMA Style Guide (American Medical Association, paid subscription, with user interface that could be better). See also the blog, AMA Style Insider
• Apple style guide(excellent style guide for technical publications, related to computers), free PDF download
• Amazon Kindle Publishing Guidelines
• AP Stylebook Online ($, Associated Press style, for newspapers and some magazines, continually updated to include new "acceptable" usage), and recent Ask the Editor Q&As. This is interesting, also: Differences Between 'The Yahoo! Style Guide' and 'The Associated Press Stylebook'
• AP style via FreelanceStarCompany (the Associated Press style guide is the standard one for journalism and is also good for bloggers)
• APA Style (American Psychological Association). Highlights of APA Style (Purdue Online Writing Lab, or OWL)
• Association of Art Editors Style Guide (AAE on accents, ellipses, and various kinds of formatting, among other things)
• BBC News Styleguide. Look around for their online training, too.
• The Best Punctuation Book, Period by June Casagrande
• Buzzfeed style guide (standards for the internet and social media--note lowercase internet)
• CDC Style Guide (PDF, Centers for Disease Control). See also the CDC Clear Communications Index (20 research-based items to build on and expand plain language techniques described in the Federal Plain Language Guidelines--I especially like the good and bad examples of graphics).
• Chicago Manual of Style Q&A (free, but not complete)
• Chicago Manual of Style, online (not free; use search function to find the section you want in book version of CMS; it isn't always easy to find what you want in the book version)
• The Chicago Guide to Grammar, Usage, and Punctuation by Bryan A. Garner (Chicago University Press)
• Corpus of Contemporary American English (not a style guide but a frequency list, based on a huge collection of texts, at Brigham Young University.
• Conscious Style Guide ( terminology for various communities, links to articles debating usage, geared to studying words as tools instead of unwitting weapons)
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• Disability Style Guide (National Center on Disability & Journalism)
• The Diversity Style Guide
• Economist style guide, with good general style guidance on, for example, Singular or Plural? (British style, but sensible)
• Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), site for downloading free guide
• Electronic style (George H. Hoemann, dated)
• FAQs on Style (
• French Canadian style guide (PDF, Cultural and Linguistic Characteristics of Qu้bec, Office qu้b้cois de la langue fran็aise--in French or English--so it explains things about French diacritical marks etc., saying, "Not using the proper French diacritics (accents), on both upper- and lowercase letters, in a text you draft in French introduces spelling mistakes that can change the meaning of words." For example: (POISSON SALษ (with an accent) means “salted fish”; POISSON SALE means “dirty fish”). Great charts for special style problems (e.g., number of spaces before or after something). See also Acad้mie fran็aise (for style guide in French). Recommended by Brian Barker on Copyediting-L.
• Garner's Modern English Usage
• GPO Style Manual (PDF, U.S. Government Printing Office, 2008)
• A Gender-Neutral Glossary (Julie Scelfo, NY Times, 2-3-15). Sidebar to main story: A University Recognizes a Third Gender: Neutral (also Julie Scelfo) “They” has become an increasingly popular substitute for “he” or “she” in the transgender community, and the University of Vermont, a public institution of some 12,700 students, has agreed to use it.
• GLAAD's Media Reference Guide (formerly Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, but now covers bisexual and transgender issues, too, so just GLAAD)
• Guardian and Observer (U.K.) Style Guide
• How to Learn a Style Guide in 10 Days (PDF, Colleen Barron's presentation at ACES)
• IEEE Computer Society Style Guide, online
• MailChimp Content Style Guide (email marketing)
• MLA Formatting and Style Guide (OWL)
• MLA style crib sheet (Abel Scribe)
• Mozilla Developer Network Writing Style Guide (for documentation style) and Mozilla copy rules, A-Z and Mozilla Style Guide (with sections on identity, websites, communication, products -- an example of a firm-specific style guide in a techie field)
• NASA History Style Guide (National Aeronautics and Space Administration)
• National Geographic Style Manual (especially useful for place names)
• Online consistency checker (Intelligent Editing, free, Beta version, powered by PerfectIt). Upload a PDF, DOCX, DOC or TXT file (maximum file size is 10 MB, for best results use DOCX) and it will check for consistency. There are free and paid versions.
• Online Stylebooks, handily listed and linked to by subject, Alphabetically arranged, and Indexed by the Search Engine. Very handy!
• Plain English handbook (Securities & Exchange Commission)
• Plant Nomenclature (USDA, National Plant Materials Manual). See also Glossary of Terms for Use in Plant Materials (National Plant Materials Manual, 542.1)
• Sitemap for Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL). Not exactly a style guide, but it may come in handy for some style issues.
• The Queer Dictionary , De-mystifying the language of LGBT+ culture
• Le Ramat de la typographie French style guide by Canadians (par Aurel Ramat et Anne-Marie Benoit)
• Religion Stylebook (a guide for journalists, a service of the Religion Newswriters Association)
• Reuters Style Guide (an A-to-Z newspaper style guide that leans toward British style but often shows both Brit and American style, as in "temblor: An American word for earthquake, not trembler")
• Royal College of Surgeons (UK) College Style Guide. Example: If there is a rise from eight percent to ten percent, the rise is not two percent but two percentage points (or a two-point increase).
• Style and Substance (monthly bulletin of Paul R. Martin, stylebook editor at the Wall Street Journal, with searchable archives)
• Times (U.K.) Style and Usage Guide
• Style Guide for the Computer Industry (Sun,online), also available as a book, updated and with missing parts: Read Me First! A Style Guide for the Computer Industry (Sun Publications)
• 25 Online Style Guides for Marketing Pros (Michael Ream, McGuire Editorial)
• United Natiions Editorial Manual Online
• U.S. Army in Europe Public Affairs Editorial Style Guide (PDF). E.g., Reveille and taps are lower case because they are bugle calls, not songs or compositions.
• Videogame Style Guide and Reference Manual (IGJA wiki)
• Wall Street Journal: A global Journal, an American voice (Style & Substance, Vol. 28, No. 8: One Journal, 9-1-15) WSJ's new broadsheet editions in Asia and Europe will be a global paper with an American voice, American English, and U.S. spelling.
• Web Style Guide, 3rd ed. (Patrick Lynch and Sarah Horton)
• Web Editorial Style Guide (PDF file downloadable free from E-Write, prepared with examples for the Energy Information Administration)
• Wikipedia Manual of Style
• WMO Spelling List (World Meteorological Spelling List) and WMO Style Guide (2014, PDF)

• Writing headlines for Google and e-media, by Steffen Fjaervik, Poynter online
• Yahoo! Word List (for online writing)
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British vs. American (and Canadian, Australian, and New Zealand)
spelling, vocabulary, and style

• British and American Spelling (Oxford Dictionaries). There are also variations within British style--e.g., British style spelling (Oxford on -ize, -ise, or -yse?). And see Spelling Rules and Tips
• British and American Spelling (Oxford Dictionaries)
• Comparison of American and British English (Wikipedia)
• List of words having different meanings in American and British English: A–L (Wikipedia) and List of words having different meanings in American and British English: M-Z
• The Economist Style Guide, online (free). Sensible explanations of British punctuation (under P).
• Guardian and Observer Style Guide 'Style to be good must be clear. Clearness is secured by using words that are current and ordinary.' Aristotle
• The Oxford Style Manual (combines The Oxford Guide to Style, The Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors, New Hart's Rules, and a list of 500 American words and their British equivalents)
• New Hart's Rules: The Oxford Style Guide
• Differences Between American and British English (Kenneth Beare, About Education, English as a Second Language)
• Differences between American English and British English (In Other Words translation agency)
• British to American/​American to British (Kenneth Beare's vocabulary tool)
• What are the important differences between Canadian and American (USA) English? (English Language & Usage)
• Dave VE7CNV's Truly Canadian Dictionary of Canadian Spelling (online and very handy--compares to American and British English as well as French and Spanish)
• Accent Tag: US, Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand (video so you can hear people with different pronunciations of various words)
• What are the differences between American, British and Australian English? (Quora), scroll past the ads to the content
• Macquarie Dictionary Online (the most authoritative dictionary of Australian English)
• English language varieties (Wiki Voyage)
• Names for food in British and American English (OxfordWords) -- for example, eggplant and aubergine, garbanzos and chickpeas, arugala and rocket, navy beans and haricot beans)
• British and American spelling (video, excellent overview of common style differences)
• Quiz: British phrases to confuse Americans (e.g., "They're chalk and cheese," "I need to spend a penny")
• Quiz: American phrases to confuse Brits (e.g., "a Bronx cheer," "jump the shark")
• Quiz: How good is your New Zealand English?• List of works with different titles in the United Kingdom and United States (this might make a good board game)
• Difference between various forms of English (Wikipedia, UK & Ireland, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, United States)
• American vs. British Spelling Differences (Cullen Hartley's quick reference chart)
• Lack of interest spells the end for the Queen's English Society (Lewis Smith, Independent, 6-4-12)
• A language family tree -- in pictures (Minna Sundburg's illustrations, The Guardian)
• Lickety splits: two nations divided by a common language (David Marsh, The Guardian, 11-26-10) Are there too many 'Americanisms' in the Guardian?
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Pronunciation guides and dictionaries

• Oxford Learner's Dictionaries gives both British and American pronunciation, for ESL students (e.g., type in "liaison" ).
• American and British English pronunciation differences (Wikipedia's very interesting page!)
• Oxford pronunciation guide (focus on British pronunciation; if American is different, gives both).
• Forvo (pronunciation in many foreign languages)
• The ABC Book, A Pronunciation Guide (NLS online guide to pronunciation of commercial names and acronyms that may be encountered when narrating print material for audio transcription -- from The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped). See (see FAQ about NLS).
• VOA's guide to pronouncing names and places (especially those tough foreign names you see in newspapers)
• Pronunciation Guide for Plant Names in Latin (it's CLEH muh tis, not Cle MAH tis, for clematis)
• Encyclopedia Mythica (the names of the ancient gods and goddesses -- for English speakers)
• Biblical words (Net Ministries)
To find pronunciation of words in foreign languages, do a search for, say, "pronunciation in German"
• Emma Saying (this particular link is to the top 10 words, including doge, draught, Naphtali, joie de vivre, charcuterie). Some pronunciations, including marijuana, a little odd.
• International Phonetic Alphabet Chart With Sounds
• 50 Incorrect Pronunciations That You Should Avoid ( Maeve Maddox, Daily Writing Tips). Here's #21: forte – English has two words spelled this way. One comes from Italian and the other from French. The Italian word, a musical term meaning “loud,” is pronounced with two syllables: /​FOR-TAY/​. The French word, an adjective meaning “strength” or “strong point,” is pronounced with one syllable: /​FORT/​.
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Guides to respecting diversity, difference, and disability

• Conscious Style Guide (Karen Yin) In one place: style guides covering terminology for various communities and links to key articles debating usage. "We study words so that they can become tools instead of unwitting weapons." Sections focused on Ability + Disability; Age; Appearance; Ethnicity + Nationality; Gender, Sex + Sexuality; Health; Othering; and more.
• The Diversity Style Guide (Center for Integration and Improvement of Journalism, Journalism Department, San Francisco State University) To help media professionals cover a complex, multicultural world with accuracy, authority, and sensitivity

LGBTQ style and media guides
• Stylebook Supplement on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender Terminology National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA)
• GLAAD Media Reference Guide (PDF, download free). GLAAD rewrites the script for LGBT acceptance.
• LGBTQ Terms (a short guide, from
• (a wiki). For a list of international gender-neutral pronouns, see the entry on Pronouns.

Disabilities style and media guides
• Disability Language Style Guide (online, free, National Center on Disability and Journalism, NCDJ) General, physical disability, visually impaired, hearing impaired, mental and cognitive disability/​seizure disorders. See also Tip sheets for reporters and (information and technical assistance on the Americans with Disabilities Act, U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division)
• Guidelines for Writing about People with Disabilities (ADA National Network, Information, Guidance, and Training on the Americans with Disabilities ACT)
• Words of Respect: Speaking of Disability (slideshow for presentation by Doug Ward and Val Alexander Renault, University of Kansas, for the American Copy Editors Society.) Language influences perception and attitudes.
• Guidelines: How to Write and Report About People with Disabilities (based on a national survey of disability organizations)
• Your Words, Our Image (Research and Training Center on Independent Living, Kansas University), a two-column guide to "do say" and "don't say" alternatives--e.g., "burn survivor" rather than "burn victim"; "has a learning disability" rather than "slow learner," "has X" rather than "suffers from X."
• SPJ Diversity Toolbox (resources on disability and accessibility)
• Disability and Mental Health Hot Topics at ACES Convention (part 1) Anya Weber (4-24-14, two-part series of her report on Community Inclusion, disability-related sessions at the annual convention of the American Copy Editors Society. Part 2: Editors Learn About Person-First Language.

Media guides on drug abuse, mental health, and suicide prevention
• The National Institute on Drug Abuse Media Guide How to find what you need to know about drug abuse and addiction.
• Style Guide: Reporting on Mental Health (TEAMup)
• Preventing suicide: A resource for media professionals (Suicide Prevention Resource Center, SPRC) Sensitive reporting can save lives.
• Social Media Guidelines for Mental Health Promotion and Suicide Prevention (PDF, TEAMup)

Bias Busters: guides to cultural competence
(series from Michigan State University School of Journalism)
• 100 Questions About Arab Americans: A Journalist's Guide
• 100 Questions & Answers About African Americans
• 100 Questions & Answers About Americans
• 100 Questions & Answers About Arab Americans
• 100 Questions & Answers About East Asian Cultures
• 100 Questions & Answers About Indian Americans (with ties to India)
• 100 Questions & Answers About Hispanics & Latinos
• 100 Questions & Answers About Muslim Americans
• 100 Questions, 500 Nations (co-sponsored by the Native American Journalists Association)
• 100 Questions and Answers About Veterans: A Guide for Civilians

More bias busters, from other sources
• Religion Stylebook (Religion Newswriters Association, by journalists, for journalists).
• AAJA Guide to Covering Asian Americans (Asian American Journalists Association)
• Media Takes on Aging (International Longevity Center, Aging Services of California)
• NABJ Style Guide (National Association of Black Journalists)
• Race Forward Race Reporting Guide (for covering key issues with a racial lens, for reporting on specific racial and ethnic groups, and harmful racial discourse practices to avoid)
• 100 Questions about Arab Americans: A Journalist's Guide (Arab Media, credited elsewhere to Detroit Free Press)
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Grammar and style books for writers
who wince at the idea of grammar
and for popular reading

The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language by Rodney Huddleston and Geoffrey K. Pullum ($119 to $419 used, 1860 pages, for those who want "an understanding of how English grammar as a whole works, and of what the facts of usage really are"--"aims to "outline and illustrate the principles that govern the construction of words and sentences...without recommending or condemning particular usage choices"--in short, both grammar and linguistics, but not particularly about usage. Not easy reading but may be of interest to editors who want a more deeply informed understanding of English grammar. By the same authors: A Student's Introduction to English Grammar
• Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss (British-style grammar and humor)
• The Elements of Style by William Strunk and E.B. White (aka Strunk & White), considered a great primer on good writing by many, but a bad influence on grammar by others (50 Years of Stupid Grammar Advice by Geoffrey K.Pullum, Chronicle of Higher Education, 4-17-09).
• (examples of terrible English, often on Japanese signs and packages)
• The Elephants of Style and Lapsing Into a Comma: A Curmudgeon's Guide to the Many Things That Can Go Wrong in Print--and How to Avoid Them by Bill Walsh (Washington Post copy editor -- two words, AP Style -- Walsh explains reasoning behind rules, so you can see when it's okay to break them)
• McGraw-Hill Handbook of English Grammar and Usage by Mark Lester and Larry Beason (required reading for at least one copyediting course, useful partly for correct and incorrect examples of sentences, with explanations)
• The Oxford Dictionary of English Grammar by Bas Aarts, Sylvia Chalker, Edmund Weiner. Web URLs appear on interesting supplement pages .
• The Glamour of Grammar: A Guide to the Magic and Mystery of Practical English by Roy Peter Clark, author of Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer. He captures essences in a few words.
• The Grammar Devotional: Daily Tips for Successful Writing from Grammar Girl by Mignon Fogarty, author of Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing. See also Fogarty's shorter, more focused, titles: Grammar Girl's 101 Misused Words You'll Never Confuse Again (know the difference between purposely and purposefully, hilarious and hysterical, affect and effect?); Grammar Girl's 101 Words to Sound Smart (for those who want to learn some new 50-cent words, as Twain would call them); Grammar Girl's 101 Words Every High School Graduate Needs to Know. Some of her works are available as ebooks.
• How English Works: A Grammar Practice Book by Michael Swan and Catherine Walter (too few exercises for an ESL text, but good explanations and illustrations for teachers and ESL students)
• Line by Line: How to Edit Your Own Writing by Claire Kehrwald Cook (full of examples of bad sentences and how to improve them)
• New York Public Library Writer's Guide to Style and Usage by Andrea Sutcliffe
• Painless Grammar by Rebecca Elliott (part of a series that includes Painless Writing (Jeffrey Strausser), Painless Vocabulary (Michael Greenberg), Painless Spelling (Mary Elizabeth)--a series for junior and senior high school students
• Peck's English Pointers (Canadian, articles and quizzes on grammar, punctuation, mechanics, usage and clarity)
• The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century by Steven Pinker. An article adapted from the book is available online: The Source of Bad Writing (WSJ, 9-25-14). "The 'curse of knowledge' leads writers to assume their readers know everything they know")
• Sin and Syntax: How to Craft Wickedly Effective Prose by Constance Hale, and (on the power of verbs) Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch: Let Verbs Power Your Writing
• The Deluxe Transitive Vampire: The Ultimate Handbook of Grammar for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doomed by Karen Elizabeth Gordon--stories keep you reading and illustrate grammatical principles in passing.
• Woe Is I: The Grammarphobe's Guide to Better English in Plain English by Patrica T. O'Conner
• Word Court: Wherein Verbal Virtue Is Rewarded, Crimes Against the Language Are Punished, and Poetic Justice Is Done by Barbara Wallraff, author of the popular Atlantic Monthly column, the language maven who wittily establishes rules for turns of phrase, slang, name usage, punctuation, newly coined vocabulary -- e.g., is it "a historical" or "an historical"? How long does someone have to be dead before you stop calling her "the late" etc.

Related titles
• Bad English: A History of Linguistic Aggravation by Ammon Shea, author of Reading the OED: One Man, One Year, 21,730 Pages. Here he looks at language “mistakes” and how they came to be accepted as correct—or not. Consider: Hopefully, that/​which, enormity, bemuse, amuse, OMG, stupider. Listen here, online, to his interview on NPR.
• Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen by Mary Norris, long-time editor at the New Yorker. “A delightful mix of autobiography, New Yorker lore, and good language sense.”~Ben Yagoda
• The World Atlas of Language Structures Online (WALS) A large database of structural (phonological, grammatical, lexical) properties of languages gathered from descriptive materials (such as reference grammars) by a team of 55 authors. Grammar not-light.
• Founding Grammars: How Early America's War Over Words Shaped Today's Language by Rosemarie Ostler
• Things That Make Us (Sic): The Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar Takes on Madison Avenue, Hollywood, the White House, and the World by Martha Brockenbrough, whose blog will make you chuckle: SPOGG (Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar)

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Citation and Reference Styles
(various resources on footnotes, endnotes, documentation)

• The Best Style Guide Resources for MLA, APA, Chicago, and CSE (links to key style-guide sites, a few bibliography generators, and other resources useful in academia)
• Overview of citation software (MIT Libraries). Review of EndNote, Zotero, and Mendeley. Copyediting also recommends checking out Bibme and EasyBib. See also Reference Checker (Good Citations)
• Help, Citations Are Killing Me! (Erin Brenner, Copyediting, 1-6-17)
• Citing Work: Making Life Easier (Erin Brenner, Copyediting, 5-5-15)
• MLA Handbook (8th edition, 2016) Updated for the digital era, the new MLA style proposes a universal set of guidelines for citing any type of source. MLA members can request a free copy and order additional copies at a 30% discount!
• The Future of Academic Style: Why Citations Still Matter in the Age of Google (Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Los Angeles Review of Books) In creating this new edition, we took the opportunity to put all of the rules aside and imagine how we’d create an entirely new style today, from the ground up. And the result is a much slimmed-down, much friendlier guide that establishes a set of general principles for creating documentation and then explains their application in a wide range of ways . . . more like a set of natural practices through which scholars can help organize the often unruly publications by which we are increasingly surrounded."
• Purdue/​OWL Overview on Documenting Sources
• Discipline-Specific Citation Styles (UAB Libraries, links to sites for information on different citation styles)
• " a service that helps scholars, courts and others create web citation links that will never break. prevents link rot."
• Citation Style, Part 1: Mash Up for Modern Media (Erin Brenner, Copyediting, 3-17-15). "How to mash up different citation formats to fit an odd duck in your citation list."
• Citation Style, Part 2: Citing Social Media (Erin Brenner, Copyediting, 3-24-15) How to create a citation style from scratch.
• Cite Work Can Be Profitable (Richard Adin, The Business of Editing, An American Editor, 5-6-15) Charging per page of footnotes and using macros may increase your hourly earnings proofing or copyediting citations.
• Macro tools and editing software for editors and proofreaders ( A guide to macros, which are simple programs that allow you, with a few keystrokes, to automate tedious search-and-replace tasks and other mind-numbing chores. The computer does the boring tasks while you focus on the content.
• Citing Work: What Do Editors Really Need to Do? (Erin Brenner, Copyediting, 4-28-15) A copyeditor's responsibilities regarding citations and an explanation of macros. "Services like JSTOR, PubMed, and the Library of Congress Online Catalog can help you fill in any missing information that the bibliography services can’t." Available bibliography services include:
---NoteStripper (Editorium)
---QuickCite (a mobile app that takes a barcode scan and emails you a citation)
---teenagers for hire.
• How One Editor Made Peace with Auto-Generated Bibliographies (Dawn McIlvain Stahl, Copyediting, 7-8-14). Auto-generated bibliographies have come a long way--Stahl reviews available resources.
• Research and Documentation Online (Diana Hacker on how to document print and online sources in the humanities, the social sciences, history, and the hard sciences)
• Diane Hacker's list of style manuals for humanities, social sciences, history, and the sciences
• Style Guide Resources (informED, Open College, links to material related to four main style guides for academic writing: MLA. APA. CSE. Chicago)
• APA style resources (crib sheets) University of Minnesota crib sheet on American Psychological Association style
• APA Style on Documentation (Purdue/​OWL on American Psychological Association style on citations)
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• Chicago style citation quick guide
• Chicago/​Turabian Style on Documentation (University of Wisconsin Writing Center)
• Citation styles (Online Education Database)
• Citing Electronic Editions. Copyediting Tip of the Week, 1-18-11 (not everyone has figured out how to proceed)
• Sailing the Oceans of English: Using References Wisely (Erin Brenner, Copyediting blog, 10-28-14)
• Citing Records in the National Archives of the United States (PDF, leaflet 17, especially for genealogists and the like)
• The End Matter: The Nightmare of Citation (Louis Menand, The New Yorker, 10-6-03)
• How Do I Cite a Kindle? (Chelse Lee, American Psychological Association, on how to cite e-book readers
• IEEE Computer Society Style on References
• KnightCite (an online citation generator service provided by the Hekman Library of Calvin College)
• MLA Style on References (Purdue/​OWL on Modern Language Association style) . See also MLA citation style for academic citations: Print no longer default citation style and URLs no longer necessary for Web citations, with 7th edition (Nate Anderson, Ars Technica, 4-12-09)
• Research and Documentation Online, Diana Hacker's guide to four styles of academic documentation: MLA style (for English and some humanities classes), APA style (American Psychological Association, for the social sciences), Chicago style, for history and other humanities classes, and CSE style (for biology and the other sciences).
• Reference Checker. Copyeditors: "If you work on Word documents with name+date (APA /​ Harvard style) or number (Vancouver) references, ReferenceChecker will save you time in checking the reference items and citations. It will not perform any other copy-editing checks for such things as spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc. You can use the program free of charge for 10 days from installation. To continue using ReferenceChecker after the 10-day trial period, you must purchase a licence."
Citation Indexing Databases (to learn which articles have cited a particular citation):
• Which citation database: Web of Science, Scopus, or Google Scholar?. Lokman I. Meho's evaluation of three major citation indexing databases for the Special Libraries Association, 2009. Meho also lists other specialized databases useful for citation searching.
• A Historian's Code by Richard W. Stewart
• Scopus (now called SciVerse Scopus (huge abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature and solid web sources). Here are interactive tutorials for Scopus.
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• Google Scholar (free)
• ISI Web of Knowledge and a FAQ that explains that Web of Science is part of Thomson Reuters' larger Web of Knowledge database. The Web of Science database includes among other things the
-Arts & Humanities Citation Index, a/​k/​a Arts & Humanities Search
–Science Citation Index
–Social Sciences Citation Index
"The American Psychological Association (APA) style is often used in the social sciences. The Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) is used in business, communications, economics, and social sciences. The CMS style uses footnotes at the bottom of page to help readers locate the sources. The Modern Language Association (MLA) style is widely used in the humanities."~ from an excellent article, Academic Publishing: An Overview (Charles Henry editing blog)
For additional resources check out Wikipedia's list of academic databases and search engines
• Footnotes, Endnotes, & References: Uses & Abuses (Rich Adin, An American Editor 3-29-10)
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Do not assume that a reference work is good because it's called Webster's or Roget's. Those labels are public domain now, so anyone can use them.

• * Abbreviations, acronyms, and initialisms, by category
• Acronym Finder -— to find what an acronym, abbreviation, or initialism stands for. An acronym is a string of initial letters pronounced as a word — e.g., NATO, EPCOT. With an initialism (BBC, PBS), each letter is pronounced separately. For a great explanation of the complexities of acronyms, abbreviations, and initialisms, look at this Wikipedia entry, at the end of which are links to more acronym databases. See also GovSpeak (a guide to U.S. government acronyms and abbreviations) and The Internet Acronym Server (a searchable database)
• Affixes (the building blocks of English (1,250 entries and 10,000 examples of prefixes, suffixes, combining forms and infixes--the four types of affixes that appear in English). See for example the thematic affixes . Drawn from Michael Quinion's book, Ologies and Isms: A Dictionary of Word Beginnings and Endings
• alphaDictionary (directory of online dictionaries for about 300 languages)
• All That JAS: Journal Abbreviation Sources ( — by field)
• AllWords (search for words containing, starting, or ending with certain letters, with multilingual search)
• American Sign Language Browser (find a word, the find the video showing how it's signed in ASL)
• (Compact Oxford English Dictionary, Little Oxford Dictionary of Quotations), and Concise Dictionary of First Names
• Astronomy and Particle Physics Dictionary (
• Auditing Dictionary of Terms (Accounting Institute Seminars)
• A-Z list of English idioms
• Bartleby, reference books online, free
• BBC Food Glossary
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• The BBI Combinatory Dictionary of English (, a guide to collocations and grammar--especially helpful for ESL students: how to combine words to form phrases that sound right to the English ear: "mortgaged to the hilt." Here's the preface to the original book, explaining what collocations are
• Bing Translator
• Biopharmaceutical glossary, taxonomies (and guide to 21st century therapeutics, technologies and trends)
• Buzzwhack (demystifying buzzwords)
• Common Chat Slang (e.g., AFAIK means "As far as I know" -- plus Common Emoticons)
• Common Medical Abbreviations (GlobalRPh, the clinician's reference)
• Generic and genericized trademarks, List of (Wikipedia)
• CONSORT statement. Guidelines in the CONSORT (Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials) statement are used worldwide to improve the transparent reporting of randomized, controlled trials.
• Construction Dictionary
• Cultural Objects Name Authority Online (CONA, Getty)
• Dictionarist (talking dictionary that translates with pronunciation and sound in several languages)
• Dictionary of Medical Acronyms & Abbreviations /a> (
Dictionary of Law (
• Electric Power Industry Glossary
• Encyclopedia Brittanica online (paid subscription, though free to journalists, users of social media such as Twitter, etc.
• Energy Acronyms (California Energy Commission)
• Energy Terms and Definitions (Energy Information Administration)
• Financial Dictionary and Financial Quiz
• Financial terminology and other quizzes (for ESL students,
• Findlaw Law Dictionary
• FOLDOC (free online dictionary of computing--i.e., a computing dictionary)
• FreeDictionary Legal Dictionary
• Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names ฎ Online
• Glossarist (very useful, searchable dictionary of glossaries and topical dictionaries, from the general to the arcane--e.g., English to Hindi food terms)
• Glossary of Energy Terms (California Energy Commission)
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• Glossary of political economy terms (Paul M. Johnson, Auburn University)
• Glossary of spiritual and religious terms
• Google Translate
• Grammars and Language Courses in many languages--great links at
• (a free online talking dictionary of English pronunciation--both British and American versions of words)
• Hutchinson dictionary of difficult words (from literati to verbigerative)
• (Internet slang and common Web abbreviations)
• Investor Words
• JaLingo (a free cross-platform dictionary tool) and JaLingo Wiki (where users and developers of JaLingo can report bugs, discuss formats, etc.)
• Kids Open Dictionary Builder (anyone can contribute to this free, simple, open dictionary for kids)
• Legal Dictionary
• Lexicon of New Media Terms
• Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English (popular dictionary for English as a Second (or Foreign) Language, ESL or EFL)
• LookWayUp (dictionary, thesaurus and translation with spelling correction)
• Medline-Plus Medical Dictionary
• (online dictionary and thesaurus, with definitions, etymology, audio pronunciation guides, extensive cross-referencing, complete inflections, and frequent updates)
• Netlingo (online dictionary of Internet and computer terms, including text and chat acroynms)
• 100 most commonly mispelled (oops misspelled) words in English (
• 100 most often mispronounced words and phrases in English (
• Onelook Dictionary (searches online dictionaries for definitions or translations)
• OneLook Reverse Dictionary
• Online dictionaries (Your Dictionary, scroll down and link free to dictionaries in special fields and word games)
• Online dictionaries and encyclopedias (, includes many foreign language dictionaries)
• Online Etymology Dictionary
• Oxford English Dictionary (now available for both Windows and Mac, on CD-ROM), displaying both the second edition (1989) and the gradually accumulating third edition, about which, and about whether the online edition will spell the end of the print OED, be sure to read Charlotte Brewer's long essay for The Wilson Quarterly, Only Words. See What's new for the latest changes in the online dictionary (you can join their mailing list). See also Barton Swaim's review (Democratizing the Oxford English Dictionary) (WSJ, 11-4-16) of The Word Detective: Searching for the Meaning of It All at the Oxford English Dictionary by John Simpson, in which the longtime editor of the OED takes readers inside the lexicographical revolution.
• The Phrase Finder (UK site--find meaning, source of colloquial and literary phrases, sayings, idioms)
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• Plain Language Offenders (and simple words to replace them)
• The Phrase Finder (meanings and origins of 1,200 English sayings, phrases, and idioms, UK)
• Prepositions List (the long list, including one-word prepositions and complex prepositions, at The English Club).
• Roget's II: The New Thesaurus, at Bartleby's
• Stedman's Online Medical Dictionary
• Techtionary (an “animated magazine of technical terms”)
• Top 100 Brands Synonymous With Their Product Category (Rob Kelly, but next list is fuller)
• Trademark checklist (International Trademark Association). Trademark hotlines: tmhotline@​ or phone: (212) 768-9886
• Translators' resources (Dictionaries, Glossaries, & Tech Resources, on site of New England Translators Association)
• Unicode Standard, Unicode Character Code Charts (scripts), and Unicode Character Code Charts (punctuation, symbols, and notational systems)-- links to the formulas for Unicode characters in many languages
• Union List of Artist Names Online (ULAN, Getty)
• Urban dictionary (slang and online terms, such as YMMV). Diverting and, for those new to OMG, helpful.
• The Visual Dictonary ( Click on arrows to change volumes (vegetal biology, animal biology, human body, music, transport, clothing).
• Visual Dictionary Online (Merriam-Webster) Search within 15 themes.
• **Visualizing data (fabulous site)
• Visual Thesaurus (online version, $subscription only--2-week free trial available). Online interactive dictionary and thesaurus, creates word maps that blossom with meanings and branch to related words. See this Visual Thesaurus blog entry for "fanboy" to get flavor of exchanges.
• Visuwords (online graphical dictionary) get image maps of words
• (a searchable online international food dictionary)
• Word.Com (Merriam-Webster's online newsletter
• Wiktionary (English-language Wiktionary, a free-content multilingual dictionary, with etymologies, pronunciations, sample quotations, synonyms, antonyms and translations)
• Wordnik (beta: dictionary, thesaurus, word community -- examples, words in context, pronunciation)
• World Wide Words (Michael Quinion writes on international English from a British standpoint)
• World Wide Words' helpful links to other words sites
• Yiddish Dictionary Online
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Editing and proofreading marks:
• Proofreaders' Marks (Chicago Manual of Style Online)
• Copyediting and Proofreading Symbols (PDF, SUNY)
• Copy Editing Marks (explained, California State University, Chico)
• Copyeditor's Marks (John Wiley
• Editing and Proofreading Marks (English Teachers' Friend)
• Proofreaders' Marks (University of Chicago Style Manual)
• Proofreaders' Marks (EEI)

Advice for Writers: Preparing Your E-Manuscript (Subversive Copy Editor, 7-5-10)

Book Doctors: What They Do

Dear Writer: Reasons to Love and Fear Your Copyeditor (Sally Fisher Saller, the Subversive Copy Editor, in Prime Number)

Dictionaries, clarity, and the Supreme Court:
• Skip The Legalese And Keep It Short, Justices Say (Nina Totenberg, NPR's Morning Edition, 6-13-11, audio and transcript). Worth reading for the concluding anecdote alone.
• Justices Turning More Frequently to Dictionary, and Not Just for Big Words by Adam Liptak (NY Times 6-13-11).

Do editorial style guides matter in the digital world? (Edelweiss Arnold, The Publishing Training Centre, 2-23-12). Yes, for consistency. Advice here on what to include.

Editors on Editing: What Writers Need to Know About What Editors Do ed. Gerald Gross

Edit Yourself (Bruce Ross-Larson's brief manual, good for technocrats who need to learn to trim their own verbal flab and write briefly)

The Fine Art of Copyediting by Elsie Myers Stanton

The Great Typo Hunt: Two Friends Changing the World, One Correction at a Time by Jeff Deck and Benjamin D. Herson

Levels of Edit, simplified (Clarity for Editing), by Justin Baker, STC

Line by Line: How to Edit Your Own Writing by Claire Kehrwald Cook (out of print, but you can buy used copies)

Panel talks about new roles for copy editors at Breakfast of Editing Champions (ACES discussion on how the copyeditor's role is changing. What are we now? Content editors (ugh). Reader advocates? Communicators? The people who make messages clear, online or off? We have to perform on multiple platforms.

Process diagrams (Chicago Style--diagrams for book publishing and journal publishing processes)

Significant Rule Changes in The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th Edition. For example, Chicago now prefers web, website, web page with a lowercase w, but World Wide Web and Internet.

The Westing Game. A Web exhibit of the various manuscript drafts of Ellen Raskin's Newbery Medal-winning novel The Westing Game, plus sample pages from the page and jacket design process (thanks to Harold Underdown for this link!)

• What editors and copyeditors do (links to many excellent explanations, essays, and how-to articles)

More books for editors

More resources for editors

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“You most likely need a thesaurus, a rudimentary grammar book, and a grip on reality," writes Margaret Atwood in the Guardian's wonderful potpourri, Ten Rules For Writing Fiction. "This latter means: there's no free lunch. Writing is work. It's also gambling. You don't get a pension plan. Other people can help you a bit, but ญessentially you're on your own. ญNobody is making you do this: you chose it, so don't whine."

Authors included in Part 1 of the Guardian Rules are Elmore Leonard, Diana Athill, Margaret Atwood, Roddy Doyle, Helen Dunmore, Geoff Dyer, Anne Enright, Richard Ford, Jonathan Franzen, Esther Freud, Neil Gaiman, David Hare, PD James, AL Kennedy

One of Roddy Doyle's rules: "Do give the work a name as quickly as possible. Own it, and see it. Dickens knew Bleak House was going to be called Bleak House before he started writing it. The rest must have been easy."

One of Elmore Leonard's: "Never use the words 'suddenly' or 'all hell broke loose.' This rule doesn't require an explanation. I have noticed that writers who use 'suddenly' tend to exercise less control in the application of exclamation points."

Authors included in Guardian Rules, Part 2 : Hilary Mantel, Michael Moorcock, Michael Morpurgo, Andrew Motion, Joyce Carol Oates, Annie Proulx, Philip Pullman, Ian Rankin, Will Self, Helen Simpson, Zadie Smith, Colm T๓ibํn, Rose Tremain, Sarah Waters, and Jeanette Winterson.

"Keep a light, hopeful heart," writes Joyce Carol Oates. "But ญexpect the worst."

The Guardian also published the defiant 10 'grammar rules' it's OK to break (sometimes) ( 8-15-14) You shudder at a split infinitive, know when to use 'that' or 'which' and would never confuse 'less' with 'fewer' – but are these rules always right, elegant or sensible, asks linguist Steven Pinker. (See also his essay Why Academics Stink at Writing (Chronicle Review, 9-26-14).

An 'Unruly' Look at the English Language (Mark Forsyth, The Lost Lectures, on YouTube). Many of the rules we learn don't hold true, says Forsyth. Take, for example, the spelling mantra “I before E except after C,” which is used to help people remember how to spell words like “piece.” Only 44 words follow the rule and 923 don’t (including "their," “being,” and “eight.”

In her blog entry, How to Break the Rules, Cameron McClure of the Donald Maass Literary Agency includes Kurt Vonnegut's 8 Rules of Writing and Elmore Leonard's rules, and gives examples of writers who have successfully broken some of the rules. McClure's blog, Book Cannibal, is about fiction.

William Safe's Delightful Rules for Writers
• Remember to never split an infinitive.
• The passive voice should never be used.
• Do not put statements in the negative form.
• Verbs have to agree with their subjects.
• Proofread carefully to see if you words out.
• If you reread your work, you can find on rereading agreat deal of repetition can be by rereading andediting.
• A writer must not shift your point of view.
• And don't start a sentence with a conjunction.(Remember, too, a preposition is a terrible word to end a sentence with.)
• Don't overuse exclamation marks!!
• Place pronouns as close as possible, especially in long sentences, as of 10 or more words, to their antecedents.
• Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided.
• If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
• Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixing metaphors.
• Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
• Everyone should be careful to use a singular pronoun with singular nouns in their writing.
• Always pick on the correct idiom.
• The adverb always follows the verb.
• Last but not least, avoid cliches like the plague; seek viable alternatives

For an entirely different approach to teaching better writing, check out two books that many nonfiction writing teachers swear by: Expectations: Teaching Writing from the Reader's Perspective and The Sense of Structure: Writing from the Reader's Perspective by George Gopen.

Forty-Six Writing Wrongs (Jerome Doolittle, Bad Attitudes--a list he used to hand out to his students at Harvard)

The expected order of adjectives: Adjectives in English, according to Mark Forsyth, “absolutely have to be in this order: opinion-size-age-shape-colour-origin-material-purpose Noun. So you can have a lovely little old rectangular green French silver whittling knife. But if you mess with that order in the slightest you’ll sound like a maniac.” ~ Mark Forsyth, The Elements of Eloquence: How to Turn the Perfect English Phrase. Others disagree with the order, giving examples such as "big bad wolf" (opinion, size, noun). See, for example, Big bad modifier order (Matthew Anderson, Language Log, 9-3-16). French students are taught that the number of syllables may affect the order, and that a more subjective adjective precedes a more objective syllable ("depressing old tax collector"). Search for "royal order of adjectives" and find a handy chart reproduced in several places, showing the order to be: Determiners (articles and other limiters, such as "four" or "several"); observation or opinion ("expensive," "genuine"), physical description (size, shape, age, color, in that order), origin (French, Thai), material (copper, wooden), qualifier (basketball, as in basketball court; wedding, as in wedding dress), and noun (cat, mirror).
See also How non-English speakers are taught this crazy English grammar rule you know but have never heard of (Cassie Werber, Quartz, 9-7-16).

"The data are": How fetishism makes us stupid (Geoff Nunberg, Language Log, 1-1-13). What happens when you pedantically apply a grammar rule to "big data."

To Split or Not to Split Infinitives? (from the very helpful Get It Write site). Here are more tips and there is a searchable PDF book with the first fifty tips .

The true history of the split verb rule (Mark Liberman, Language Log, 12-23-12)

Would you correct this (for grammar)? "I don't think everyone should write like me." (Mark Liberman, Language Log, on "Write Like Me" 7-24-09)

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ACES interactive online quizzes, testing knowledge in many subject areas

After Deadline (excerpts from the weekly newsroom critique of usage errors, including overused phrases, in The New York Times)

AP vs. Chicago (a guide-and-blog comparing the two major style guides)

Arrant Pedantry (see, for example, Fifty Shades of Bad Grammar Advice)

Arnold Zwicky’s blog (for a deeper look at language)

Ask the English Teacher (Crawford Kilian, and check his excellent links)

The best misplaced and dangling modifiers of all time , a sidebar in Twelve Common Errors, an editing checklist (good for self-teaching) from the University of Wisconsin Writing Center's Writer's Handbook

Book Mistakes, help authors and publishers catch their mistakes, and read which mistakes appeared in print

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British vs. American (and Canadian, Australian, and New Zealand) spelling, vocabulary, and style

***Capital Community College's excellent Guide to Grammar and Writing. Here's the text only version of the front page.

CheckDog (automatically spellcheck your website)

Check Your Spelling

Colorado State University writing resources

• Comma Queen (Mary Norris's delightful New Yorker video series on points of grammar, punctuation)

Conjugate an English verb (Verbix)

Conjugate Visits (check out Copy Edits du Jour).Blog of June Casagrande, author of It Was the Best of Sentences, It Was the Worst of Sentences: A Writer's Guide to Crafting Killer Sentences (conjugating all the forms of English verbs -- in this case "sleepwalk." Also shows Spanish and French conjugations.

Copyediting's Tip of the Week, a freebie even nonsubscribers can use. Working with Absolute [Participial] Phrases by Erin Brenner is a particularly clear explanation of something editors should know and most writers don't get.

***Council of Science Editors’ excellent links for wordsmiths

Dangling Participles (beautifully explained by Mignon Fogarty, Grammar Girl)

Diagramming Practice (St. Albans School)

Do you have what it takes to join the Word Police? Barbara Wallraff (requires registering with Atlantic online)

Do you make these mistakes when you write? (Copyblogger)

Elements of Style (Strunk & White) (beware banner ads) and you may want to read this article from the Chronicle of Higher Education first: 50 Years of Stupid Grammar Advice by Geoffrey K. Pullum (4-17-09 issue of Chronicle Review) (learn English with online help from volunteer teachers all over the world)
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Everything Language and Grammar (Paul Yeager and Sherry Coven)
Five grammatical errors that make you look dumb, by Brian Clark (Copyblogger)

50 Coolest Online Tools for Word Nerds (Katheryn Rivas, Online Universities blog, 5-24-10). Check out their other X best lists.)

Free Interactive Grammar Quizzes, Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation, which has a blog, too.

Economist Style Guide of the Week

50 Best Blogs for Grammar Geeks (Online University Reviews)

Fuzzmail (silly fun for the typo-aware)

Games to test your knowledge (for example, try “How well can you read a world map?”)

Get It Write (articles on English grammar and usage)

Google's Ngram Viewer (for when you want to compare "have your cake and eat it" and "eat your cake and have it" and see when usage changed)

Grammar and Punctuation (explanations and a quiz-checklist, The Writer's Handbook, The Writing Center, University of Wisconsin at Madison)

Grammar Bytes! interactive grammar review (active learning exercises)

Grammar Geekery with Bill Walsh (Washington Post Q&As)

Grammar Hotline Directory (by state)

***Grammar Girl's Quick & Dirty Tricks for Better Writing (Mignon Fogarty)

Grammar Gang

***Grammarisst. One of the most useful sites.

Grammarly, "for finding and correcting more mistakes than your word processor." But see Gene Weingarten takes Grammarly to school (Wash Post, 5-28-15) Grammarly is good at detecting plagiarism but lousy at improving writing. Its rewrites will give you a laugh.

**Grammarphobia (Patricia T. O’Conner and Stewart Kellerman's blog)

Grammar Police

Grammar Myths (Grammarphobia site, on grammar myths: Don't split an infinitive, Don't end a sentence with a preposition, Data as a plural now always takes a plural verb, None is always singular, Don't start a sentence with "and" or "but," Don't split the parts of a verb phrase (such as "has been"), Don't use "who" when the rules call for "whom," Never use a double negative, and Use "have got" and not "have gotten."

Grammar Revolution, learning English grammar the easy way. See especially, for example, Thomas Edison Quotes, Diagrammed

Grammar rules everyone should follow (Thomas Jones, The Guardian, 5-9-13). Following the inaugural Bad Grammar awards, Thomas Jones lists nine grammatical conventions that, depending on context, you may – sorry, might – as well adhere to

Grammar Slammer
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Grammatical terms, explained (Oxford Dictionaries Jargon Buster)

Grammar Theory and Practice (St. Albans School, punctuation, parts of speech, clauses, diagramming, verb tenses, practice exercises)

Guide to Grammar and Style (Jack Lynch--very handy!)

Hit Parade of Errors in Style, Grammar, and Punctuation (University of Toronto Health Sciences Writing Centre)

Index of Banned Words, the continually updated edition (Carl Zimmer, Discover, on clich้s to avoid in science writing)

Interactive Grammar and Writing Quizzes (CCC)

It's okay to split infinitives (Steven Pinker, "Oaf of Office," NY Times). "To boldly go where no one has gone before"

Language Corner (Columbia Journalism Review blog by Merrill Perlman, former manager of copy desks for NY Times; blogs worth reading) and if you like that, check out her page on Talk to the Newsroom (a feature in the Times--and then check out talks with editors in other sections of the paper)

Language Log (popular linguistics Weblog run by University of Pennsylvania phonetician Mark Liberman, with many guest linguists)

Language Log (archives of the blogs before April 8, 2008)

Learn English Today Free English resources and materials for ESL-EFL learners of all levels (including good idiom lists, A-Z and by theme)

Learning to Speak American (Tim Parks, NY Review of Books, 12-14-12). " style is a much more common occurrence in the US and more aggressively enforced, to the point that when one rereads work one has written for The New Yorker it no longer seems like your voice at all. I can think of no similar experience with English or European magazines, as I can remember no experience quite like my tussle over tense changes for the American edition of my book Medici Money. Not that good editing is not precious. One has been saved a thousand stupid mistakes and much ugly phrasing by good editors; it is the desire to fix style in an unchanging standard that is noxious."

Links for writers (Northwestern University)

Links to lists of grammar items for use by ESL/​EFL teachers (Pat Byrd, Georgia State University)

Madam Grammar (Lisa McLendon on Words, language, editing)

Mighty Red Pen (Grammar, word nerds, and the editorial way)

Most of What You Think You Know About Grammar Is Wrong ( Patricia T. O’Conner and Stewart Kellarman, Smithsonian, Feb. 2013). And ending sentences with a preposition is nothing worth worrying about.

The myth of English as a global language (Tom Shippey, Times Literary Supplement, an interesting essay/​review of two books). "Some say that there are only a few hundred deeply irregular words, but the trouble is that most of them are common." See also The History of English Spelling

Newsroom training (no train, no gain)

New York Times, Grammar and Usage page (a news aggregator)

Nonsexist language (U of Minnesota)

100 most commonly mispelled (oops misspelled) words in English (

100 most often mispronounced words and phrases in English (

The Online Dictionary of Language Terminology (ODLT) (concise explanations of the words English speakers use to discuss language -- e.g., accent grave, adverbial genitive, allophone, anapest)
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Online English grammar (EduFind)

Online grammar tutorials (

Online spelling bee (Visual Thesaurus -- not easy!)

Online technical writing course (David A. McMurrey)

OWL Exercises (exercises to do on your own to improve your grammar, punctuation, spelling, sentence structure, sentence style, and number writing--plus when to paraphrase, not plagiarize!), from Purdue's excellent Online Writing Lab

OxfordWords blog (from the people at Oxford Dictionaries)
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Purdue OWL (Online Writing Lab), excellent on most aspects of style, grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Got an afternoon? Check out OWL's site map

Paradigm Online Writing Assistant (Chuck Guildford). Download printable PDF for $7.

Poynteronline writing and editing tips

Prepositions: The super-handy and horribly confusing widgets of language (James Harbeck, The Week, 5-28-13). To, from, of, by: The little linguistic bits that we use to fit in gaps and hold things together or keep them apart. But it's all rather arbitrary. See for example Differences between British and American use of prepositions

Pronoun Case (CliffsNotes explanation of subjective, objective, and possessive "case")

Pronunciation links (Karen's ESL Partyland)

Resources for ESL students (students for whom English is a second language)

Roane State OWL (another online writing lab)

Rogue's Gallery (Queen's English Society, and guess who's featured here)

Rules That Aren't (Bill Walsh, The Slot, for ACES 2005). Myths such as "Never split an infinitive" and "Never begin a sentence with a conjunction."

SchoolHouse Rock-type grammar lessons (set to music and animation, mostly YouTube videos):
• Conjunction Junction
• Grammar Rock: Verb
• Grammar Rock: Adjective
• Grammar Rock: Preposition
• Grammar Rock: Adverb
• SchoolHouse Rock: Grammar The Tale of Mr. Morton
• Schoolhouse Rock: Interjections

Self-study quizzes for students of ESL

7 grammar myths you learned in school (Oxford Dictionaries)

Slip-ups archive (errors in books, bloopers in movies and on tv)

Spelling Bee (Visual Thesaurus, which says word aloud)

Spelling test (Mindy McAdams' test, using 50 commonly misspelled words)

Starting a sentence with a conjunction (and, but, etc.)

Style and Substance (monthly bulletin of Paul R. Martin, stylebook editor at the Wall Street Journal, with searchable archives)

Style guide for technical writing (Ronald B. Standler)

“Teachers! Please Do Not Make Your Students Use Synonyms for Said,” I Blurted (Gabriel Roth, Slate, 12-2-15)

Ten Mistakes Writers Don't See But Can Easily Fix (Holt Uncensored)

The Tongue Untied (guide to grammar, punctuation & style for journalists--turn the pages!)

Tips on writing and editing (Poynter)

Top 20 website for learning English as a second language (post on

Triangle grammar guide (Pam Nelson's blog on use and misuse of language)

Triangle Grammar Guide quizzes

24 rules of English grammar, (spelling, and punctuation): The rock-bottom basics for writers (Linda Aragoni, You Can Teach Writing) (Resources for English as a Second Language), incredibly useful site

Using verbs of attribution accurately and objectively (Douglas Perret Starr, Copyediting, on when to use which variations on "he said")

Visual Thesaurus. I particularly like Erin Brenner's entry on The Trouble with FANBOYS, a chart on how (and how not) to use coordinating conjunctions: for, and, nor, but, or, yet and so.

The Vocabula Review (TVR, striving to combat the degradation of our language); check out listings for TVR's essay archives (for paid subscribers only)

A Way with Words (NPR's lively program about language, with Martha Barnett and Grant Barrett

Word Count (Visual Thesaurus column, Writers Talk About Writing)

Word Frequency Counter and Phrase Frequency Counter (WriteWords)

Words on words (ACES--American Copy Editors Society), tips on editing and headline writing, comments on cliches and bad writing, etc., offered by editors and journalism professors)

You Don't Say John McIntyre's blog on language and the craft of editing, his new site now that he's departed the Baltimore Sun, on whose site you can still find his old entries: You Don't Say — Language and Usage Blog

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"I'm exhausted. I spent all morning putting in a comma
and all afternoon taking it out." ~ Oscar Wilde

Acronyms and initialisms *** Apostrophes *** British versus American punctuation (and some Canadian) *** Capitalization *** Commas, serial commas, and semicolons *** Dashes, em dashes, ellipses, colons, slashes, and commas *** Editing and proofreading marks *** Exclamation points *** Hyphens ***Periods*** Quotation marks and italics *** Umlaut and diaeresis *** Punctuation generally
"Hyphens are responsible for at least 90 percent of all trips to the dictionary. Commas are responsible for at least 90 percent of all trips to the style guide."~ Susanna Sturgis: Sturgis's Law #5

Where punctuation matters:
A woman, without her man, is nothing.
A woman: without her, man is nothing.

Let's eat, Grandma.
Let's eat Grandma.

Acronyms and initialisms

• Acronym and initialism. From an informative Wikipedia entry: "...The New York Times’ guide recommends following each segment with a period when the letters are pronounced individually, as in K.G.B., but not when pronounced as a word, as in NATO. The logic of this style is that the pronunciation is reflected graphically by the punctuation scheme."
• Because It’s Korrect Taddle Creek, On initialisms and acronyms
• Acronym (helpful Wikipedia entry, with initialism discussed briefly under "Nomenclature")
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• Apostrophe Index (Quintessential Stuff)
• Apostrophe abuse (visual examples)
• “Apostrophes ’n’ Quote Marks” (Taddle Creek)
• Apostrophe Catastrophes: The Worlds' Worst. Punctuation;
• How to use an apostrophe (excellent cartoon explanation, The Oatmeal)
• AP vs. Chicago style on apostrophe-S or no-S with plural possessive
• Association for the Abolition of the Aberrant Apostrophe. Read Richard Littlejohn's tribute to Keith Waterhouse , the legend of Fleet Street, then scroll down and read read a reprint of the classic column in which, more than 20 years ago, he launched the Association for the Abolition of the Aberrant Apostrophe.
• The Dreaded Apostrophe (where you can download a PDF file of this tutorial)
• Grammar Girl on Apostrophe Usage (especially for terms such as homeowners association, farmers market, teachers strike, writers center)
• How to Use an Apostrophe (Oatmeal's delicious decision chart)
• If you can't use an apostrophe, you don't know your shit (David Marsh, The Guardian, 8-16-13) Greengrocers – and big supermarkets – may struggle to tame the 'apostrofly', but it's not actually that hard. See Marsh's great four-sentence example-lesson.
• It's vs. its (Gary D. Shapiro, "changing the world one apostrophe at a time")
• Possessive apostrophes (Michael Quinion, World Wide Words)
• Why Doesn’t “Veterans Day” Have an Apostrophe? (Mignon Fogarty, Grammar Girl,, 11-11-10)
• Problems with Apostrophes and other English language issues (Paul Doherty)
• Sharon Colon's Erring Apostrophe Picture Gallery (images of signs that drive the grammar police crazy: Sign's of the Time's, sausage sandwich's, tattoo's, jet ski's, entertainment at it's best, up-do's, water taxi's, and the like)
• Taming the Apostrophe (
• Smart Quotes (Ilene Strizver,, on smart and dumb quotation marks and their parallel, smart and dumb apostrophes -- that is, straight vs. curly or slanted)
• Apostrophes in Place Names Are Practically Against the Law , published as "Theres a Question Mark Hanging Over the Apostrophes Future." (Barry Newman, WSJ, 5-16-13). The U.S. Board on Geographic Names has a policy against possessive apostrophes in place names, because the apostrophe quote implies private ownership of a public space. Martha Brockenbrough, the founder of National Grammar Day and the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar, says "When it comes to the history of how things are named, when you take out the apostrophe, you strip away a bit of its history." (How Possessive: The Apostrophe's Place In Space (talking with host Rachel Martin, NPR Weekend Edition, 5-19-13) "Its Practically Against the Law to Use the Mark in a Places Name; Sorry, Pikes Peak."
• How the Past Affects the Future: The Story of the Apostrophe (PDF, TESOL Working Paper by Christina Cavella and Robin A. Kernodle, scholarly article)
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British versus American punctuation

(and some Canadian)
• British versus American Style (The Punctuation Guide)
• Punctuating Around Quotation Marks (Quizzical, American Psychological Association blog, 8-11-11)
• Correct punctuation, British style
• Oxford English says goodbye to 16,000 hyphens (Reuters, IBN Live, 9-22-07, but American style was never "ice-cream" or "Bumble-bee" anyway)
• 'The British style'? 'The American way?' They are not so different (David Marsh, The Guardian, 5-19-11
• The Rise of "Logical Punctuation". The period outside the quotation marks is not a copy error. (Ben Yagoda, Slate, 5-12-11)
• How to Quote a Source (The Writing Center, Madison, Wisconsin, from The Writer's Handbook: Avoiding Plagiarism)
• Lickety splits: two nations divided by a common language. Are there too many 'Americanisms' in the Guardian? (David Marsh, Guardian, 11-26-10) Notice all the comments? This (albeit not about punctuation) is a hot topic!
• Canadian Punctuation with Periods, Eh? (Adrienne Montgomerie, Copyediting, 4-8-15)
• Inside-outside: Whose Punctuation Is It? Adrienne Montgomerie, Copyediting, 7-2-14) on Canadian punctuation of terminal quotations.

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• A Little Help with Capitals (OWL, the excellent Purdue Online Writing Lab)
• Capitalization (Colorado style)
• Capitalizing Words in Titles (test yourself in this column by Pat McNees)
• Capitalization Rules (Jane Straus,
• Capitalization Policy Worksheet (, to help you to decide what to capitalize in a title)
• Making Sense of Title Style Rules (Erin Brenner, Copyediting, 2-3-15)
• Dealing with Formal and Descriptive Titles (Erin Brenner, Copyediting, 2-10-15)
• Capitalization Policy Worksheet (Right Touch Editing)
• Survey of Headline Capitalization Style for Seven Major Style Guides
• Stop Capitalizing the Word Internet (Adam Nathaniel Peck, New Republic, 7-28-15) Dictionaries and style guides treat it as a proper noun, but no one else does
• What's in a nAME(cq)? (Bill Walsh, Sharp Points). How to deal with the vagaries of website names, logos, and other efforts to be cute. Don't ignore basic principles.
• Automatically Capitalize Your Title (this is a handy but not foolproof tool -- it came up with Checking My Mother-in-Law's by-Laws, but otherwise does a pretty good job!)
• 7 Words You Need to Stop Capitalizing (Danny Rubin, Huffington Post, 12-11-14)
• Quiz Bowl: To Capitalize or Not to Capitalize (AMA Style Insider 10-7-11). Which letters would you capitalize in this sample title: "tolcapone in patients with parkinson disease: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial"
• Capitalization (Dr. Abel Scribe's Guide to Chicago Style Research Papers--but of course you will HAVE the The Chicago Manual of Style
• Capitalization in Academia (Capitalization, University of Texas at Austin -- Is she a Physics Professor, a Physics professor, a physics Professor, or a physics professor?
• On Language: Wines Without Caps (William Safire, NY Times, 8-25-85) Rules for capitalizing wines. For example, "When a wine is named for a place, and actually comes from that place, capitalize its name. " Thus Burgundy, from that region of France, but burgundy from California. Very handy article!
• To Be Or Not To Be In Capitals: That Is The Question (Intelligent Editing). The rule is NOT "Capitalize all the big words." One of the most annoying common errors I find in titles is "be" and "is" and "am" in lower case. All forms of the verb "to be" should be capitalized in titles!
• Grammar Is Not Dead (Taddle Creek). Should "god" be capitalized, if you don't believe there is such a thing?
And check out PerfectIt PerfectIt (proofreading software for professionals), reviewedhere by editor Adrienne Montgomerie.
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Commas, serial and otherwise

and semicolons
Arguments can be made for and against the serial comma, as these two popular examples illustrate (see the possibilities for confusion in each):
“I'd like to thank my father, the Pope, and Mother Theresa”
“I'd like to thank my parents, Jesus and Mother Theresa.”
The serial comma is recommended by APA, The Atlantic, the Chicago Manual of Style, Harper's Magazine, Harvard University Press, MLA, The New Yorker, and Oxford University Press. Bryan Garner says that "omitting the final comma may cause ambiguity, whereas inserting it never will." When you edit for a client who prefers AP style (especially for marketing copy, for example), you will still use the serial comma for clarity, especially in a series with a compound element and ambiguity: "Among those interviewed were his two ex-wives, Kris Kristofferson and Robert Duvall." Or "In the first part of the evening, the choir will sing two hymns, Old Man River and Shenandoah." But in "I'm inviting my brother, a playwright, and three actors to the party." (There, the presence of the serial comma creates a problem: Is that three, four, or five people?)
• To comma or not to comma (OWL)
• That, which, and commas (test yourself on setting off nonrestrictive phrases, Pat McNees's column for APH newsletter)
• Grammar's great divide: The Oxford comma - TED-Ed If you read "Bob, a DJ and a clown" on a guest list, are three people coming to the party, or only one? That depends on whether you're for or against the Oxford comma -- perhaps the most hotly contested punctuation mark of all time. When do we use one? Can it really be optional, or is there a universal rule? TED-Ed explores both sides of this comma conundrum. (You have to sign up for TedEd.)
• In Defense of Nutty Commas (Mary Norris, New Yorker, 4-12-12)
• The Most Comma Mistakes (Ben Yagoda, Opinionator, NY Times, 5-21-12). An excellent survey and explanation of the comma mistakes I find most often when editing even good writers. See also Fanfare for the Comma Man (4-9-12).
• Cartoon about the Oxford comma (Imgur's excellent illustration)
• A Comma Problem Among Editors (Andy Hollandbeck, How We Edit, Copyediting, 2-3-16) "In 1975, Gerald Ford became the first president to..." Is that comma helpful? essential?
• The case for and against the Oxford comma (Warren Clements, 'Word Play,' Globe & Mail 7-18-11, with 118 comments on that date).
• CommaRules (Alisa Miller's excellent comma tweets)
• Commas, Turning Up, Everywhere (The Onion, newsbrief)
• Going, Going, And Gone?: No, The Oxford Comma Is Safe ... For Now (Linda Holmes, NPR, 6-30-11).
• Commas Before Quotes (James Harbeck, Sesquiotica, 11-3-10) In the end, the General said “Nuts.” [there was something he said at the end, and we’re just establishing what it was] vs. In the end, the General said, “Nuts.” [it’s taking us there to the instance of utterance].
• The Comma (Brazilian Press Association spot: "This one, Judge, is corrupt")
• The Comma That Costs 1 Million Dollars (Canadian) (Ian Austen, NY Times, 10-25-06)
• A Comma You Should Cull (Marcus Trower's Be Your Own Copy Editor series #4), which he wrote a follow-up entry for: ‘Be Your Own Copy Editor’ Post Changes Course of Publishing History . about taking out commas before final conjunctions in compound predicates. (This may be more than some of you want to know.)
• CommaRules (via Twitter, for short-form learners)
• A Tale of Adverbs and the Comma (Beth Hill, The Editors Blog)
• The Oxford Comma Debate (TedEd, animated cartoon, explains both sides of the argument about whether to use the serial comma)
• To semicolon, or not to semicolon (Merrill Perlman, CJR, 4-20-15)
• How to use a semicolon: The most feared punctuation on earth (excellent cartoon tutorial)
• The Pros and Cons of Using Semicolons (Grammarly) With the great semicolon comes great responsibility... and run-on sentences.
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Dashes, em dashes, ellipses, colons, slashes, and commas

• Mad Dash (Ben Yagoda, Opinionator, NY Times 10-22-12)
• Getting to Know the Em Dash (, 4-28-14) Google Books treats hyphens, en dashes, and em dashes as the same character, translating them all into “–”. but Google Books is wrong!
• 6 punctuation marks you might be using incorrectly (OxfordWords blog)
• Dashes — the Kardashians of punctuation (Roy Peter Clark,
• What the ... (Matthew J.X. Malady, Slate) Why everyone and your mother started using ellipses ... everywhere.
• Dashes, Colons, and Commas (Grammar Girl, Mignon Fogarty, 4-19-12)
• Em Dashes and Ellipses: Closed or Spaced Out? (AP vs. Chicago, 5-10-11)
• Mind Your En And Em Dashes: Typographic Etiquette (David Kadavy, Smashing, 8-15-11). A must-read on typographic etiquette, for designers and editors.
• Ode to the En Dash (Conan Tobias, editor, Taddle Creek)
• Discretionary Hyphens , invisible unless needed (Ilene Strizver,
• The Relentless Rise of the Dot Dot Dot (Marcus Trower, copyeditor for fiction authors, Be Your Own Copy Editor series #7, 2-27-13)
• Unfinished story … how the ellipsis arrived in English literature (Alison Flood, The Guardian, 10-20-15) A Cambridge academic claims to have found the first use of a ‘brilliant innovation’ that has endured as a mark of incomplete speech
• Slash: Not Just a Punctuation Mark Anymore (Anne Curzan, The Chronicle of Higher Education, 4-24-13)
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Editing and proofreading marks

(believe me, many of these will be to fix misplaced commas, apostrophes, and other punctuation marks)
• Copyediting and Proofreading Symbols (PDF, SUNY)
• Editing and Proofreading Marks (English Teachers' Friend)
• Proofreaders' Marks (University of Chicago Style Manual)
• Proofreaders' Marks (EEI)
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Exclamation points

• The point of exclamation (Ben Yagoda, Opinionator, NY Times, 8-6-12).
• Excessive Exclamation!! (chronicling the excessive and unnecessary use of this punctuation mark in everyday life)
• Easy on the Adverbs, Exclamation Points and Especially Hooptedoodle (Elmore Leonard, NY Times, 7-16-01)
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• Period. Full Stop. Point. Whatever It’s Called, It’s Going Out of Style (Dan Bilefsky, NY Times, 6-9-16)
• Period (The Punctuation Guide)
• Punctuation, periods Q&A (Chicago Manual of Style Online) The finer points.
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Quotation marks and italics

• Smart Quotes (Ilene Strizver,, on those irritating straight quotation marks ("dumb quotes") that editors spend so much time changing to "smart" quotes, aka "curly" or slanted quotes)
• Gallery of Unnecessary Quotation Marks
• The "blog" of "unnecessary" quotation marks (misinterpreting bad punctuation since 2005)
• Marking Text—Choosing Between Italics and Quotation Marks (Beth Hill, The Editor's Blog, 5-12-14)
• Using Italics and Underlining and Quotation Marks (Capital Community College Foundation, Guide to Grammar and Writing)
• Game Over (on italicizing, or not italicizing, the titles of video games, or games generally)
• Punctuating Titles: When to Use Italics, Underlining, and "Quotation Marks" (handout on MLA style)
• Quotes, Italics, or Nothing? (Montgomery College chart on how to handle titles, works, and events referenced in college communications)
• Titles of Works (useful chart, The Punctuation Guide)
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Umlaut and diaeresis

• The Diaeresis Divide (Conan Tobias, Taddle Creek) What's the deal with the New Yorker’s umlaut?
• The Curse of the Diaeresis (Mary Norris, The New Yorker, 4-26-12) "The special tool we use here at The New Yorker for punching out the two dots that we then center carefully over the second vowel in such words as “na๏ve” and “Laoco๖n” will be getting a workout this year, as the Democrats co๖perate to re๋lect the President." "the diaeresis for the same reason that we use the hyphen: to keep the cow out of co-workers." The New Yorker's umlaut is actually a diaeresis. Umlauts indicate a sound shift in German, explains this Wikipedia entry.
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Punctuation generally

• The mysterious origins of punctuation (Keith Houston, BBC (read online), 9-2-15) Who invented the comma? Commas, semicolons and question marks are so commonplace it seems as if they were always there – but that’s not the case. Keith Houston explains their history. Fascinating.
• Mary Norris, Comma Queen (delightful New Yorker video series on points of grammar, punctuation)
• McSweeney's Field Guide to Common Punctuation (Peter Kispert's humorous take on common punctuation errors--for example: "The most common of the genus ellipses, the Actual Ellipsis (AE) [not to be confused with “..,” the Moron’s Ellipses (ME)] finds regular use in correspondence meant to suggest a sense of impending doom, especially with regard to tasks that require urgent completion."
• The Period Is Pissed When did our plainest punctuation mark become so aggressive? (Ben Crair, New Republic, 11-25-13) A good discussion of irony and of this book:
• Shady Characters: The Secret Life of Punctuation, Symbols, and Other Typographical Marks by Keith Houston. Here are excerpts:
---Irony & Sarcasm marks, part 1 of 3 (9-4-11)
---Irony & Sarcasm marks, part 2 of 3 (9-18-11)
---Irony & Sarcasm marks, part 3 of 3 (10-9-11)
• The Evolution of Punctuating Paragraphs Through 5 Specific Markers (Keith Houston, Mental Floss, 10-20-15). From the paragraphos, the pilcrow, and decorated initial letters to indented paragraphs, blank lines.
• Punctuation is dead because we're tweeting like teenagers (Jess Zimmerman, Daily Dot, 11-25-13) And a few words on Uptalk and sounding cool.
A Dash of Style: The Art and Mastery of Punctuation by Noah Lukeman
• The Great Typo Hunt: Two Friends Changing the World, One Correction at a Time by Jeff Deck and Benjamin D. Herson (a book I found disappointing)
• 8 symbols that we turned into words (Arika Okrent, The Week, 5-3-13). Slash, heart, hashtag, dot dot dot, period, quote-unquote, blankety blank, Z's.
• Is This the Future of Punctuation!? (Henry Hitchings, author of The Language Wars: A History of Proper English, WSJ, 10-22-11). On the misuse of apostrophe's (did your eye just twitch?) and our increasingly rhetorical language. "Graphic designers, who favor an uncluttered aesthetic, dislike hyphens. They are also partly responsible for the disappearance of the apostrophe....Defenders of the apostrophe insist that it minimizes ambiguity, but there are few situations in which its omission can lead to real misunderstanding. The apostrophe is mainly a device for the eye, not the ear. And while I plan to keep handling apostrophes in accordance with the principles I was shown as a child, I am confident that they will either disappear or be reduced to little baubles of orthographic bling."
• Punctuated Equilibrium (John McIntyre’s excellent synthesis of the most common punctuation problems)
• Punctuation (overview, OWL, Purdue Online Writing Lab)
• Punctuation Games
• Punctuation Made Simple (Gary A. Olsen)
• Seven Punctuation Errors That Make You Look Stupid, Bill Walsh's Blogslot
• 13 Little-Known Punctuation Marks We Should Be Using (Adrienne Crezp, Mental Floss) The interrobang, Percontation Point (rhetorical question), irony mark, acclamation point, and others)
• Titles of works (The Punctuation Guide). Chart showing which types of titles are italicized, which in quotation marks, and which in regular type.
• Punctuating Titles: When to Use Italics, Underlining, and "Quotation Marks" (handout on MLA style)
• 76 Online Opportunities to Build Your Punctuation Skills (Writing Matters blog provides links to Purdue University's Online Writing Lab's exercises and quizzes on specific punctuation practices)
• The Rise of "Logical Punctuation". (Ben Yagoda, Slate, 3-12-11). "For at least two centuries, it has been standard practice in the United States to place commas and periods inside of quotation marks....But in copy-editor-free zones—the Web and emails, student papers, business memos—with increasing frequency, commas and periods find themselves on the outside of quotation marks, looking in. "
• The Tongue Untied (guide to grammar, punctuation & style for journalists--turn the pages!)
• The Alot Is Better Than You at Everything (Hyperbole and a Half)
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"Punctuation to the writer is like anatomy to the artist...." ~ Lynne Truss, Eats, Shoots & Leaves, quoting Thomas J. McCormack

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Hyphenating compounds and other common usage problems

• To Hyphenate or Not-to-Hyphenate (Pat McNees, a quiz-based survey of appropriate hyphenation, Grammar Corner, APH)
• To Hyphenate or Not to Hyphenate? (Rich Adin, An American Editor, 10-21-13) Adin particularly discusses short term, long term, custom built, and decision making
• Hyphenating X-Year-Olds, Part 1: What the Experts Say (Erin Brenner, Copyediting, 7-20-15), to be read in conjunction with Hyphenating X-Year-Olds, Part 2: What We Actually Do (Brenner, 7-20-15)
• The Problem Is in the Hyphen (Courtney McKinney, HuffPost, 8-19-14, on being called African-American instead of just American)
• Hyphens and compound words (U of Minnesota style guide)
• Hyphen (useful Oxford Dictionaries page) and Hyphens in the headlines (Oxford blog)
• Chicago Manual of Style hyphenation table (PDF--save this and print it out!)
• Dealing with Compounds, Part 1 (permanent compounds, Erin Brenner, Copyediting, 4-17-12)
• Dealing with Compounds, Part 2 (temporary compounds, Erin Brenner, Copyediting, 4-24-12)
• (Daily Writing Tips)
Cascading Decisions: When One Edit Leads to Another (Erin Brenner, Copyediting, 8-19-14) Ride-sharing and time-sharing are hyphenated as nouns, while profit sharing and job sharing are not (and more on those compounds). Also writes about notional agreement ("A fraction of the books in the new library were published before 1990."
• Compounds Ending with a Preposition or Adverb: Open, Hyphenated, or Solid? (handy chart, comparing AP vs. Chicago style, 4-5-12)
• Compound Words (CCCF Guide to Grammar and Writing). Explains three forms: the closed form (firefly, childlike), the hyphenated form (daughter-in-law, master-at-arms), and the open form (post office, real estate, middle class).

• Numbers: Spell Out or Use Numerals? (Number Style 101) (AP vs. Chicago, 5-18-11)

• 10 Rules for Writing Numbers and Numerals (Michael, DailyWritingTips), though I would use "the eighties" not "the Eighties"

• Split Infinitives (Grammar Girl, Mignon Fogarty, 8-20-10)
• State Abbreviations: Use Traditional or Go Postal? (AP vs. Chicago, 5-1-11)
• Titles: Quote Marks, Italics, Underlining, or Naked? (AP vs. Chicago, 4-18-11)
• Top Ten Grammar Myths (Grammar Girl, Mignon Fogarty, 3-4-12)
• Who Versus Whom (Grammar Girl, Mignon Fogarty, 3-9-07)

The Importance of Punctuation
Dear John, (version 1)

I want a man who knows what love is all about. You are generous, kind, thoughtful. People who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me for other men. I yearn for you. I have no feelings whatsoever when we're apart. I can be forever happy - will you let me be yours?

Dear John, (version 2)
I want a man who knows what love is. All about you are generous, kind, thoughtful people, who are not like you. Admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me. For other men, I yearn. For you, I have no feelings whatsoever. When we're apart, I can be forever happy. Will you let me be?
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Affixes, the building blocks of English (Michael Quinion's World Wide Words on everything from ab- (off, away, or from) to zygo- (joining or pairing) to zym(o)- (enzymes or fermentation).

Antagonyms (an antagonym is a single word that has meanings that contradict each other). Sometimes called contronym.

Autoantonyms and Contronyms (Fun with Words), the latter also known as Antagonyms (Ellis, words that contradict themselves)

with Anu Garg
(with pronunciation!)

Ten Words You Need to Stop Misspelling (an Oatmeal diagram)

Banished words list (clich้s banished for misuse, overuse, and general uselessness)

British Isles naming dispute(s) (Wikipedia) word columnists Jan Freeman and Erin McKean

**Common Errors in English Usage (Paul Brians). If you're just learning to edit (or write properly), start with this clear and charming site/​book. Here are the words most often misused, also available as a text-only version of Paul Brians' site, and as a book: Common Errors in English Usage See also Paul Brians' blog entries. (Brians, who has retired from teaching at Washington State University, prefers the possessive form Brians' to Brians's.)

Commonly confused words (Oxford Dictionaries)

The Eggcorn Database (born out of Language Log), an evidence-based collection of misused words that stem from a mishearing but still manage to make sense, such as eggcorn for acorn, and "tough road to hoe."

450-million-word Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA), freely searchable, the largest corpus of American English currently available. Created by Mark Davies of BYU. See FAQ and Other corpus-based resources, including N-grams.

Googlefight. Type two keywords and click on the 'Fight' button. The winner is the one which gets the biggest number of results on Google. Try it with "organize" and "organise."

Grammarist (lots of useful entries on confusable and misused words, including Easily confused words and Varieties of English (e.g., glamour vs. glamor, percent vs. per cent, Crayfish, crawfish, crawdad, etc. See Loath vs. loathe (vs. loth).

Commonly confused words (

Common stumbling blocks for authors, from A to X (Benjamin Dreyer, VP Executive Managing Editor & Copy Chief of Random House Publishing Group, on Bioibgraphile's Good Prose Month, 1-10-13)

Confessions of a Word Snob (Alex Beam, Opinion, NY Times, 4-29-13).

Confusing Words (3,000 of them)

Daily Writing Tips(on Misused Words)

Don’t Use “Pants” for “Pantaloons”: 19 Surprising Rules Copyeditors Used to Enforce (Arika Okrent, Mental Floss).

Down with Provided That (attention: lawyers)

Easily Confused or Misused Words (Infoplease)

Eggcorns. Here Are 100 'Eggcorns' That We Say Pass Mustard (Mark Memmott, NPR, 6-1-15). For example, "expresso" for "espresso," "Heimlich remover" instead of "Heimlich maneuver."

50 of Your Favourite Words (for sesquipedalians) (BBC Magazine)

Fun with Words

Grammatically Speaking: Have You Got a Grasp of Grammar?. Handy grammar quiz hosted by Staples. Great promotion idea.

Gun Grammar ( John Rains, ACES)

Homonyms, homophones, and homographs. Alan Cooper's Homonym List (except those are really "homophones"). See also's chart of 200 Homonyms, Homophones, and Homographs.

Irregular Plurals (English Zone)

It's vs. its (Gary D. Shapiro, "changing the world one apostrophe at a time")

Language corner (Columbia Journalism Review)

Language identifiers (when you don't know which language a word comes from)

Language Log, for linguists and language buffs

How to Spot Mrs. Malaprop (Erin Brenner, Copyediting, 2-17-15). She also refers us to sites listing mondegreens (mishearings of a popular phrase or song lyric). and eggcorns (for acorns). See also Some Amusing Malapropisms (fun with words) and Examples of Malapropism (Your Dictionary)

Medlinguistics' Medlingtweets (excellent distinctions and fine points)

Misused Words (blog category on DailyWritingTips)

Notorious Confusables (on CCC's very practical learning site)

One Word or Two? (Erin Brenner, Copyediting, on a lot/​alot, all ready/​already, all together/​altogether, all ways/​always, anyone/​any one, a while/​awhile, every day/​everyday, may be/​maybe, some day, someday, straight forward/​straightforward, under way/​underway, up on/​upon

OxfordWords blog (Oxford Dictionaries). See, for example, Expat, migrant, refugee: how do we talk about people who leave their home country?

Spelling, Vocabulary, and Confusing Words (, a site with many free or subscription quizzes)

The Story of Ain't: America, Its Language, and the Most Controversial Dictionary Ever Published by David Skinner. James Kelly's review in the Wall Street Journal You Say Prescriptive, I Say Proper talks about how Webster's Third dictionary sparked a national debate about which words were acceptable and which were "illiterate." Many word people still mourn the lost of Webster's II, which let you know which choices were preferable!

Towards a Fuller Understanding of Usage (Jonathon Owen, Visual Thesaurus, 3-19-13). Which do you use: toward or towards? Is "towards" British English or American English? Owen may give editors pause.

Treat The English Language Well. Everyday. "Red Cap" Herschel Weiner takes on Coca Cola's misuse of a word in its Dasani commercial.

Use the (Right, Rite, Wright, Write) Word (Pat McNees, Grammar Corner, APH). Spellcheckers reveal many errors, but they fail to detect wrong words that sound almost right. Circle the incorrect words.

Using proofreading macros: Highlighting confusables with CompareWordList (Louise Harnby, Proofreader's Parlour, 1-24-16) Be sure to read the comments, with additional tips. Macros may take getting used to.

Visual thesaurus

The Vocabula Review ($)

Washington Post’s Outlook section avoids these words and phrases (Jim Romenesko, 3-20-13).

A Way with Words (a public radio program about language examined through history, culture, and family -- this entry explaining difference between orchard and grove)

What’s in a name? In Myanmar – or Burma – it’s political (Emily Alpert, Los Angeles Times, 7-3-12)

The Word Detective (Evan Morris answers readers' questions about words and language)

Word Traps

Word Trippers by Barbara McNichol (2nd edition, Kindle). Some word pairs on her blog (in "word tripper" category)

WordReference forums (translation) (the magic of words)

World Wide Words (Brit Michael Quinian on international English) -- a site to linger upon (in? on?), with such features as amusing verse illustrating that English is difficult and WWW's e-magazine,which features words in the news, weird words, new(ish) words, old words, words people ask questions about, and even the occasional grovelling correction.

The Wrong Word Dictionary: 2,000 Most Commonly Confused Words by Dave Dowling

Writing Tools, the musical (Roy Peter Clark, Poynter)

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After Deadline: Newsroom Notes on Usage and Style (NY Times). See also the Times Insider, more generally about the newsroom.

Assignment Editor (home page, with links, for newsroom)

Bechtel, The Editor's Desk (blog)

Bob Baker's Newsthinking

Books for Editors and Publishing Professionals (followed by books on design and on indexing)

A Capital Idea (a newspaper copyeditor's blog)

Copy Editing Resources (American Press Institute, excellent links)

Copyediting (a newsletter and job board, pricey but good) and Tip of the Week (the free new Copyediting blog)

Copyediting-L (CELery listserv, subscribe, free, excellent for getting the opinions of others on editing quandaries). Started by Beth Goelzer Lyons and Carol Roberts, it numbers 2000+ members (many of whom merely lurk). See also The CELery on Facebook.

The Copyeditor's Handbook: A Guide for Book Publishing and Corporate Communications by Amy Einsohn (with exercises and answer keys)

Copyeditors' Knowledge Base (KOK Edit, Katharine O'Moore-Klopf)

Courses on Book Publishing, Editing, and Proofreading

• The Dictionary of Misinformation by Tom Burnham (1975; available used)

The internet and the democratisation of English. Four blog posts by Sue Littleford, Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP), Part 1. the internet leads to the blurring of the boundaries between all the world’s Englishes--leading to mob rule in English. Part 2: Tear up the rule book. There never was a rule book but the style guide assumes more importance. Go home, spelling reform, you’re not needed here. And Finally, Part 4, she considers the Oxford, or serial, comma.

Editors' Association of Earth (a Facebook group)

The Editor's Companion: An Indispensable Guide to Editing Books, Magazines, Online Publications, and More by Steve Dunham

Editors on Editing: What Writers Need to Know About What Editors Do ed. by Gerald C. Gross, rev. edition (38 essays on the evolution of the American editor; the ethical and moral dimensions of editing; what an editor looks for in a query letter, proposal, and manuscript; line editing; copyediting; the freelance editor; the question of political correctness; making the most of writers’ conferences, and so on)

Essential grammar identification: Errors lists pinpoint must-teach rules (Linda Aragoni, You Can Teach Writing)

Grammar and Usage (New York Times) articles)

Grammar Monkeys (Wichita Eagle, language tips from the copy desk) and @​grammarmoneys

Headsup: The Blog

Language Log

Online spelling bee (Visual Thesaurus)

Organizations and resources for editors

Phrase Frequency Counter for Writers (WriteWords)

Quote Investigator (online, Exploring the Origins of Quotations). Also on Facebook and on Twitter.

Regret the Error reports on media corrections, retractions, apologies, clarifications and trends regarding accuracy and honesty in the press

Resources and tips for editors and publishing professionals

The Slot (Bill Walsh, Washington Post)

SPOGG (The Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar)

Style and Substance (monthly bulletin of Paul R. Martin, stylebook editor at the Wall Street Journal)

What Business People Think About Grammar and Usage (Maxine C. Hairston, adapted from Successful Writing by Maxine Hairston and Michael Keene)

Humor for editors

The Purist

I give you now Professor Twist,
A conscientious scientist.
Trustees exclaimed, "He never bungles!"
And sent him off to distant jungles.
Camped on a tropic riverside,
One day he missed his loving bride.
She had, the guide informed him later,
Been eaten by an alligator.
Professor Twist could not but smile.
"You mean," he said, "a crocodile."
~ Ogden Nash

Online editing humor:
• The Alot is Better Than You at Everything (Hyperbole and a Half)
• Weird Al Yankovich on Word Crimes (YouTube video, part musical parody, part put-down of people who don't talk right)
• A Diagrammatical Dissertation on Opening Lines of Notable Novels (poster from Pop Chart Labs). Easier to see here: Famous Novels' First Sentences, Mapped [Infographic] Coin Lecher, Popular Science 2-24-14

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If You Can Raed Tihs, You Msut Be Raelly Smrat (
Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

Or: According to a researcher (sic) at Cambridge University, it doesn't matter in what order the letters in a word are, the only important thing is that the first and last letter be at the right place. The rest can be a total mess and you can still read it without problem. This is because the human mind does not read every letter by itself but the word as a whole.

Matt Davis of Cambridge University's Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit explains the origins of the letter-transposition example. See also the commentary at Uncle Jazzbeau’s Gallimaufrey.

Owed to My Spell Checker

I have a spelling checker.
It came with my PC.
It plane lee marks four my revue
Miss steaks aye can knot sea.

Eye ran this poem threw it,
Your sure reel glad two no.
Its vary polished in it's weigh,
My checker tolled me sew.

A checker is a bless sing,
It freeze yew lodes of thyme.
It helps me right awl stiles two reed,
And aides me when aye rime.

Each frays come posed up on my screen
Eye trussed to bee a joule
The checker poured o'er every word
To cheque sum spelling rule.

Be fore a veiling checkers
Hour spelling mite decline,
And if were lacks or have a laps,
We wood be maid to wine.

Butt now bee cause my spelling
Is checked with such grate flare,
Their are know faults within my cite,
Of none eye am a wear.

Now spelling does knot phase me,
It does knot bring a tier.
My pay purrs awl due glad den
With wrapped words fare as hear.

To rite with care is quite a feet
Of witch won should be proud.
And wee mussed dew the best wee can,
Sew flaws are knot aloud.

Sow ewe can sea why aye dew prays
Such soft ware for pea seas,
And why I brake in two averse
When righting what eye pleas.

(Author Unknown)
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