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Style, grammar, and word choice: Editing yourself and others

"If grammar is the skeleton of expression and usage the flesh and blood, then style is the personality." ~ Arthur Plotnick, Elements of Expression


• Basic style guides
• Discipline- and situation-specific style guides and dictionaries
• Online style guides
• Diversity style guides (usage as to ability/disability, age, appearance, color, ethnicity/nationality, gender/sexuality, health, and bias)
• The right (and wrong) words (confusables, mixed-up homonyms and homophones, heteronyms, word pairs, and common errors in word choice)
• How to write and style numbers
• Online dictionaries and dictionary-style references
• British vs. American spelling and English (vs Canadian and Australian English, too)
• Citations and references (footnote, endnote, and documentation styles)
• Pronunciation guides
• Grammar and style books

• The process of editing (and being edited)
• (Breaking the) Rules of writing
• The expected order of adjectives
• Grammar and style websites, blogs, and articles
• Grammar quizzes and exercises
• Mastering comma abuse and other punctuation (and spacing) problems: Acronyms and initialisms *** Apostrophes *** British versus American punctuation (and some Canadian) *** Capitalization (including whether to capitalize "black") *** Commas, serial commas, and semicolons *** Dashes, em dashes, ellipses, colons, slashes, and commas *** Editing and proofreading marks *** Exclamation points *** Hyphens ***Parentheses, brackets, and braces***Periods*** Quotation marks and italics *** The debate about 1 space or 2 between sentences *** Umlaut and diaeresis *** Punctuation generally

• Hyphenating compounds and other common usage problems
• For editors, mainly
• Special and funny bits

See also, in the section For editors and publishing professonals:
The art of editing
Editing Arabic translations to English
Editing checklists
Fact-checking (including how to spot fake news)
Fact-checking sites
How to use Track Changes
Indexing: why and how
Kinds of editors and levels of edit
Macros and software for references, citations, footnotes and endnotes
Macro tools and editing software for editors and proofreaders
Organizations for editors, proofreaders, indexers
Q&As with agents and editors
Resources and tips for publishing professionals
Style guides and style sheets
Tips and tools for editors
Tips and tools for proofreaders
Translation, The art of
Translators and interpreters, Associations for
Translators and interpreters, Sites for and about

See also, in the section on Great search links
Abbreviations, acronyms, initialisms, shortenings, contractions, chat shorthand
Accents, symbols, scripts, diacritical marks (how to type on computer)

See also, in the section on Self-Publishing
Self-Publishing and Print on Demand
Printing is not publishing (processes to understand if you self-publish)
Self-Publishing 101
What the heck are CIPs and PCIPs, ISBNs and ISSNs, ISNIs, LCCNs and PCNs, WorldCat and does every product need one or need listing?
Basics of book design and production
The essential parts of a book
Book printing and binding, explained and illustrated
Editing, design, and production (overview of the process)
Mastering InDesign book design software
Footnotes and endnotes (InDesign)
Fonts and typography--the basics
Books on how to design and produce a book

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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 (including whether to capitalize "black") *** Commas, serial commas, and semicolons *** Dashes, em dashes, ellipses, colons, slashes, and commas *** Editing and proofreading marks *** Exclamation points *** Hyphens ***Parentheses, brackets, and braces***Periods*** Quotation marks and italics *** The debate about 1 space or 2 between sentences *** Umlaut and diaeresis *** Punctuation generally

Unicode for Supplemental Punctuation
Unicode Home You can also search for code to insert for Greek letters, math symbols, emoji, dingbats, pictographs, musical symbols, and technical symbols.
Difference Between ASCII and Unicode (Pediaa) "The ASCII represents lowercase letters (a-z), uppercase letters (A-Z), digits (0-9) and symbols such as punctuation marks while the Unicode represents letters of English, Arabic, Greek etc., mathematical symbols, historical scripts, and emoji covering a wide range of characters than ASCII."



"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.
You will be required to work twenty four-hour shifts.
You will be required to work twenty-four hour shifts.
You will be required to work twenty-four-hour shifts.
"Punctuation to the writer is like anatomy to the artist...."
~ Lynne Truss, Eats, Shoots & Leaves, quoting the beloved Thomas J. McCormack

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."
Acronym vs. Abbreviation vs. Initialism: What’s the Difference? (Lucie Turkel, Reader's Digest, 8-19-21)
Common acronyms and initialisms (Your Dictionary)
Because It’s Korrect Taddle Creek, On initialisms and acronyms
Acronym (helpful Wikipedia entry, with initialism discussed briefly under "Nomenclature")
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).
Abbreviations and Acronymsof WW2 and service records (WWIIForums)
GovSpeak: A Guide to U.S. Government Acronyms & Abbreviations:
Brianne Hughes of CMS writes about acronyms, in a piece about the Bishop Fox Cybersecurity Style Guide (PDF, free download) How do you pronounce ASCII, etc.

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How to use apostrophes in fiction writing: A beginner’s guide (Louise Harnby, The Parlour, 10-22-18). With charts -- one of the best explanations of when and where to use apostrophes I've seen.
AP vs. Chicago style on apostrophe-S or no-S with plural possessive
How to Fix Mega-Weird Apostrophes in Word Documents (Lori Paximadis, Systems and Shortcuts, 9-18-22)
Possessive apostrophes (Michael Quinion, World Wide Words)
Grammar Girl on Apostrophe Usage (many tips, especially for terms such as homeowners association, farmers market, teachers strike, writers center).
How to Use an Apostrophe (Oatmeal's delicious decision chart)
Its/It's (Word Detective) A little history and it may confuse you.
Appositives and Possessives (Jacquelyn Landis's clear explanation of something that trips up lots of people, on Daily Writing Tips).
Smart Quotes (Ilene Strizver, Fonts.com, on smart and dumb quotation marks and their parallel, smart and dumb apostrophes -- that is, straight vs. curly or slanted)
Do apostrophes still matter? (Holly Honderich, BBC, 12-9-19) Journalist John Richards founded The Apostrophe Protection Society in 2001 to defend the "much abused punctuation mark", waging war against advertisements for "ladies fashions", or the much maligned grocer's apostrophe, used to sell apple's and pear's. The battle is over, bad grammar ("Open Sunday's") has won.
How to use an apostrophe (Tne Oatmeal's cartoon explanation)
Apostrophe Catastrophes Visual examples on Facebook, and Apostrophe Catastrophes: The Worlds' Worst. Punctuation;
Apostrophe abuse (visual examples)
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.
“Apostrophes ’n’ Quote Marks”< (Taddle Creek)
It’s or Its? They’re or Their? You’re or Your? Who’s or Whose? (Get It Write) See alsoGraduated or Was Graduated? Bachelor’s or Bachelors Degree? Master’s or Masters?
• 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.
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. To quote from that: "The AAAA has two simple goals. Its first is to round up and confiscate superfluous apostrophes from, for example, fruit and vegetable stalls where potato's, tomatoe's and apple's are openly on sale.
"Its second is to redistribute as many as possible of these impounded apostrophes, restoring missing apostrophes where they have been lost, mislaid or deliberately hijacked - as for instance by British Rail, which as part of its refurbishment programme is dismantling the apostrophes from such stations as King's Cross and shunting them off at dead of night to a secret apostrophe siding at Crewe."
The Dreaded Apostrophe(where you can download a PDF file of this tutorial)
Superfluous apostrophes ("greengrocers' apostrophes") (Wikipedia, or, humorously, "greengrocers apostrophe's," apostrophes used in a non-standard manner to form noun plurals). See Harrods told to put its apostrophe back (Times Online, on Wayback Machine).
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.
Why Doesn’t “Veterans Day” Have an Apostrophe? (Mignon Fogarty, Grammar Girl, QuickandDirtyTips.com)
Apostrophes in Place Names Are Practically Against the Law subtitled "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)
How to punctuate dialogue in a novel (Louise Harnby, 8-20-18) Single or double? Curly or straight?
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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Including whether to capitalize "black"


The rule is NOT "Capitalize all the big words." Many authors wrongly lower-case "be" and "is" and "am" in titles, where all forms of the verb "to be" should be capitalized.
• Capitalize brand names. For example, whiskey and cola but Seagram's and Coca-Cola


Note these common traditions for capitalizing titles and headings:
   1. First and last word
   2. All nouns, pronouns, verbs (including "to be") and adjectives
   3. The articles (a, an, the), unless this conflicts with another rule (e.g., rule 1)
   4. Coordinating conjunctions (and, but, for, or, nor, so but see exception in No. 7 below)
   5. The word 'to' before a verb (e.g., "to run"), unless this conflicts with another rule (e.g., rule 1)


Less fixed traditions:
Some style guides lowercase all prepositions (including "through"), and capitalize most adverbs, but for most fiction and much nonfiction the following traditions are easier on the eye:
   6. Capitalize all prepositions, adverbs, and conjunctions of four letters or more, and lowercase those with three letters and fewer.

      (Common exceptions to the four-letter rule: Capitalize: no, nor, not, off, out, so, up, by.)
       In some style guides, the cut-off is words of five letters or more, so that "with" and "over" would be lowercased.
Decide which you prefer and stick with it within a document.
The grand exceptions:
    7. Capitalize ANY word, no matter what part of speech, if it is stressed, is a principal word ("Shut Up, Honey"), or is parallel in structure with a word that must be capitalized ("Up and Down,""Neither…Nor," "Either…Or," etc


Find further guidance here:

Capitalization Style for Black and White as Race Terms (chart showing various publishers' styles: RightTough Editing, 10-26-21)
Making the Case for Capitalizing Black and White (or Not) as Race Terms (Pat McNees, Writers and Editors blog, 2-22-24)

A Little Help with Capitals (OWL, the excellent Purdue Online Writing Lab)
Title Capitalization Rules (Title Case Converter) There is "no universal convention which words in a title are major and which are minor. Rather, there are various style guides which each have their own rules regarding title case." This helpful page describes the "title case rules" (for capitalization within titles) of eight common style guides:

the AMA Manual of Style,

the AP Stylebook,

the American Psychological Association (APA) Publication Manual,

the Bluebook,

the Chicago Manual of Style,

the MLA Handbook,

the New York Times Manual of Style and Usage, and

the Wikipedia Manual of Style.

Also featured is a table with a comparison of these styles.

Title Capitalization blog
To Be Or Not To Be In Capitals: That Is The Question (Intelligent Editing).
Capitalization (Colorado style)
Capitalizing Words in Titles (test yourself in this column by Pat McNees)
Capitalizing a Job Title or Military Rank (Nancy Tuten, Get It Right, 2-13-22) We treat a title/position/rank as a common noun or adjective, uncapitalied, unless it immediately precedes a person’s name (and even then we have exceptions).
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!
Capitalization Rules (Jane Straus, GrammarBook.com)
Capitalization Policy Worksheet (Copyediting.com, to help you to decide what to capitalize in a title)
Is If Capitalized in a Title or Headline? (Title Case Converter blog) The major style guides are split into two camps.
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 Is Wrong with My Title? (PDF, Pat McNees, Grammar Corner)
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?
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, Oxford, and otherwise

This is wrong: Suspense and thriller author, James Patterson, has co-authored many novels with others.

This is not: James Patterson, a suspense and thriller author, has co-authored many novels with others.

Do you know why? Are the words between the commas essential or parenthetical?


     Arguments can be made for and against the serial comma, as these these 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.”
"An Oxford comma walks into a bar, where it spends the evening watching the television getting drunk and smoking cigars."

      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--hence the synonym "the Oxford comma." Bryan Garner argues 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, originally because it used less space), 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." And "I'm inviting my brother, a playwright, and three actors to the party" is confusing if you don't know what the brother does: Is that three, four, or five people? While editing you have to pay attention to potential misreadings.
Where Is the Comma in "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" Supposed to Go? (RamsesThePigeon) Clever a capella song (video, 2m 37s), ideal for lightening punctuation lessons.
Commas between Compound Predicates (Russell Harper,CMOS, 1-19-21) Example: "We walked to the tracks and waited for the train to appear."
To comma or not to comma (OWL)
The Comma That Launched a Thousand Ships (Callie Leuck, TinHouse, 1-15-14) "It all comes down to rules, and there only two options for a rule about the Oxford comma: use the Oxford comma all the time, or use the Oxford comma only when the sentence is not otherwise clear."
Your Dog[,] Smurf: Understanding Commas with Appositives (Chicago Manual, 12-15-20) Sometimes commas signal pauses. But in formal prose—or any carefully edited prose, for that matter—logic, not pacing, is the primary consideration.
You Win This Round Comma (Mathina Calliope on Jane Friedman's blog, 6-24-2020) Why sweat the commas? To save your reader from working to decode syntax-level meaning, enabling full focus on your protagonist, your plot, and your prose.
The Comma Dilemma: Multiple Adjectives (Andy Hollandbeck, Copyediting, 8-22-18) "The New Oxford Style Manual (what I like to think of as the British Chicago Manual of Style) comes at the problem from a different angle. It categorizes adjectives as either classifying (red, immoral, American) or gradable or qualitative (happy, stupid, large). Gradable/Qualitative adjectives, says Oxford, “can be used in the comparative and superlative and be modified by a word such as very.” Not so for classifying adjectives....Given these two categories, Oxford’s basic guidelines are this: 1. No comma is needed to separate adjectives of different types. Put another way, a noun can bear one qualitative and one classifying adjective without needing a comma. 2. The use of two or more qualitative adjectives — those with common comparative and superlative forms — requires a comma or commas: “The long, dark tea-time of the soul.” 3. You don’t need a comma between two or more classifying adjectives if they relate to different classifying systems. (Go the article for examples and further explanations and qualifiers.)
Comma Splices and Run-On Sentences (Russell Harper, CMOS Shop Talk, 4-16-19) Here’s an example of a comma splice (resulting from a run-on sentence): A period is stronger than a semicolon, a semicolon is stronger than a comma. See three ways to fix it.
Commas and Independent Clauses: A Creative Opening (Russell Harper, CMOS Shop Talk, 6-18-19) " Open punctuation, in which commas that aren’t needed for comprehension are subject to being omitted, can be used if a faster pace is desired or for stream of consciousness or impressionistic writing." In fiction writing and editing, "comma usage will depend on narrative voice and creative preferences."
Does This Title Need a Comma Too? (Andy Hollandbeck, Copyediting, 11-14-18) Should there or should there not be a comma before the word too? It depends.
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.)
Using a Comma before And in a Series (Nancy Tuten, Get It Write). She makes this point--that in his edition of Robert Frost's poetry, Edward Connery Lathem inserted a serial comma in "The woods are lovely, dark and deep," (Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening), which Frost never did, and which poet/critic Donald Hall criticizes, because Frost was using "dark and deep" as an appositive for "lovely," not as three separate qualities, "dark" and "deep" and "lovely."
• "May your manuscripts be accepted, your syllabuses respected, and your Oxford commas unmolested."~Academia Obscura (Facebook page)
The power of the comma (Johnson, The Economist, 9-21-17)
In Defense of Nutty Commas (Mary Norris, New Yorker, 4-12-12) The punctuation mark most likely to start fights between grammar gurus
Oxford Comma: Yes or No? A Compilation of Opinions and Recommendations (Daniel Scocco, DailyWritingTips, 6-16-18) Plus, he's for it.
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).
Judicious application of the comma shaker (Ruth Walker, CS Monitor, 4-30-15) In a review of Between You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen: "Journalism professor Ben Yagoda, who has written a whole book about The New Yorker, blogged about a sentence from an article it ran about the late Republican political operative Lee Atwater: “Before Atwater died, of brain cancer, in 1991, he expressed regret....” Mr. Yagoda pronounced the magazine “nutty” for the commas after “cancer” and “1991.” Ah, but the argument for them is they set off what’s not essential and make the bones of the sentence easier to see: “Before Atwater died, he expressed regret.” '
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).
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)
Million-Dollar Cases (Legal Writing Pro) Three court cases involving a serial comma.
A court’s decision in a Maine labor dispute hinged on the absence of an Oxford comma (Thu-Huong Ha, Quartz, 3-14-17) CJR picked up on this one, too: Don’t work overtime: The final word on the Oxford comma (Merrill Perlman, CJR, 3-21-17), also author of Serial Killer (CJR, 4-13-09), in which she makes it optional (for clarity).
CommaRules (Alisa Miller's excellent comma tweets)
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)


Letter of Recommendation: The Case for Semicolons (Lauren Oyler, NY Time, 2-9-21) There are very few opportunities in life to have it both ways; semicolons are the rare instance in which you can; there is absolutely no downside.
• “I know how I use it, which is to say that you would have two sentences that have a causal relationship, and they are better joined than unjoined.” ~ David Remnick attempting to define the semi-colon, in The Dance Between Editor and Writer in “Turn Every Page” (Mary Norris, The New Yorker, 6-30-22) Review of a film about Robert Caro and Robert Gottlieb.
Project Semicolon.  A symbol of suicide prevention. “A semicolon is used when an author could’ve chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to. The author is you, and the sentence is your life.” "Your story isn't over." Hence the popularity of the Semicolon tattoo.
Semicolons in Fiction (Russell Harper, CMOS Shop Talk, 1-22-20) By the numbers.
‘Semicolon’ Is the Story of a Small Mark That Can Carry Big Ideas (Parul Sehgal, NY Times, 7-30-19) Review of Cecilia Watson's delightful book Semicolon: The Past, Present, and Future of a Misunderstood Mark
To semicolon, or not to semicolon (Merrill Perlman, CJR, 4-20-15)
‘Semicolon’ Review: Between a Pause and a Hard Stop (Barton Swaim, Wall Street Journal, 8-8-19) The semicolon can be overused, but the language needs a punctuation mark that tells readers “Slow down, but don’t stop.”
Nine Things You Didn’t Know About the Semicolon (Cecelia Watson, The Millions and Publishers Weekly, 7-29-19) “Love, fear, or outright hate—the semicolon can elicit them all." A little social history.
3 Brief Rules for Using Semicolons Correctly (Barbara McNichol, Nonfiction Authors Association, 6-29-18) Every time you’re tempted to use a semicolon, review these three brief rules.
3 Examples of Incorrect Use of Semicolons (Mark Nichol, Daily Writing Tips, 2-3-18)
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.
Semicolons: A Love Story (Ben Dolnick, NY Times, 7-2-12) 'Their textbook function — to separate parts of a sentence “that need a more distinct break than a comma can signal, but that are too closely connected to be made into separate sentences” — has come to seem like a dryly beautiful little piece of psychological insight.'
For Those Who Love Semicolons (Barnard Law Collier, on Jack Limpert's blog, 6-19-18) Hemingway and Chandler and Stephen King wouldn’t be seen dead in a ditch with a semi-colon (though Truman Capote might).

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Dashes, em dashes, ellipses, colons, slashes, and commas

Signifying interruption.

"My child just pointed to an em dash in her book and said "what is that?" and HERE WE GO I've been preparing for this moment my whole life." @MelissaBowers


Mad Dash (Ben Yagoda, Opinionator, NY Times 10-22-12)
Prose, Interrupted: Signaling Breaks in Dialogue (Russell Harper, Shop Talk, Chicago Manual of Style, 5-11-21)
The Dash, Slash, Ellipses, and Brackets (Butte College) When typing, use two hyphens together without spaces to form a dash. Do not put a space before or after the dash. The word-processing program may form this automatically when two hyphens are typed together.
Disturbing the Text: Typographic devices in literary fiction (Zoë Sadokierski, orig. from Book 2.0, 2013)
The difference between hyphen, en dash, and em dash(Chicago Manual of Style, or CMS)
Richard Nordquist: '"Spacing around the dash [or em dash] varies," according to "Merriam-Webster's Manual for Writers and Editors." "Most newspapers insert a space before and after the dash; many popular magazines do the same; but most books and journals omit spacing." So choose one way or the other, and then be consistent throughout your text.'
Getting to Know the Em Dash (Dictionary.com, 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!
How to Use — and Not Use — the Almighty Em Dash (Peter Rubin, Creators Hub, 11-13-2020) It can do anything, but just don’t try to make it do everything.
A Beginner’s Guide to Em Dashes, En Dashes, and Hyphens (Lynda Dietz, Easy Reader Editing) Dashes and hyphens are not interchangeable. Diet explains what to type on a keyboard to code for the differences on Windows or on a Mac.
6 punctuation marks you might be using incorrectly (OxfordWords blog)
Dashes — the Kardashians of punctuation (Roy Peter Clark, Poynter)
An easy way to insert an n-dash or m-dash in Microsoft Word (Punctuation Matters)
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, Fonts.com)
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 Exclamation Point: It’s More Than Punctuation (Kristen Tsetsi on Jane Friedman's blog, 12-31-19) It may be on the wane for reasons ranging from linguistic evolution to feminism, but one writer says "Using exclamation points, just like using turn signals, is a kindness so simple that it’s almost beautiful." Just don't overuse them.
A Theory of the Modern Exclamation Point! (Anne Helen Petersen, Culture Study) "If you’re a woman who works in a traditionally male-dominated industry, chances are high that you’ve heard some version of this advice: when you finish writing your email, go through and replace all the exclamation points with periods." Do men find the exclamation point too girlish? too Midwestern? too eager?
Thanks! Great! Women, Power and Exclamation Points (Wall Street Journal, ) Why do women feel they have to use the perky punctuation at work? WSJ (10-23-18) spoke with Barbara Corcoran and other noted female business leaders for tips and tactics for emailing at work. She cites a 2006 study of work emails that found 73% of all exclamations were made by women, and that “women use exclamation points more than men in emails to seem more friendly and expressive.” Men in powerful positions rarely use them.
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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Parentheses, brackets, and braces

One is a parenthesis). Two are (parentheses).
Parentheses, Brackets, and Braces: What's the Difference? (Bonnie Mills, on Mignon Fogarty's Grammar Girl, 7-29-10) Each explained clearly.
A Complete Guide to Parentheses and Brackets (Mark Nichol, DailyWritingTips, 4-12-18) An excellent explantion and overview, including "one of a pair of parentheses is called a parenthesis." As for what goes inside what, "braces within brackets within parentheses" but see this: Stop Defacing Quotes With Brackets! (Tom Scocca, Slate, 2-3-21) Please, don't deploy "a completely pointless set of brackets, mangling the wording of the quote, for no good reason."
Parentheses (The Punctuation Guide)
“Can I Use Parentheses in Dialogue (or Not)?” (Russell Harper, CMOS Shop Talk, 5-14-19) "When speech is translated to the page, parentheses by themselves may not tell us what we need to know....Fortunately, parentheses are never your only option."
How to Use Brackets in Academic Writing: Some Common Rules (Durga Sabnis, Enago Academy, 5-21-18) Brackets are used differently in mathematics and statistics. "Brackets are always used in mathematical expressions to help the reader perform various operations within an equation. There are very specific rules about bracket use in this discipline that are rarely altered, and the sequence of use—{[()]}—is different from that in normal text."
       And in regular (non-mathematical) text: "When there is a parenthetical word or phrase within an already parenthetical phrase, square brackets are used in American English ([ ]); however, parentheses are used in both British English and legal documents (( ))."

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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

Please "do not" use staples for posting.
Please do not use quotation marks for emphasis.

• For quote marks within quote marks: "All I know is John Jones said, 'Let's meet after work for drinks.' "

       [From an AG discussion group. Note space between single quote mark and double quote mark, so you can see them. What I can't remember is how you make sure the single and double quote mark stay together--after I saved this entry the second quote mark landed on the next line.]

Smart Quotes (Ilene Strizver, Fonts.com, 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)
Punctuating Around Quotation Marks (Quizzical, American Psychological Association blog, 8-11-11)
How to punctuate dialogue in a novel (Louise Harnby, 8-20-18) Traditional British and American styles and whether you have a choice, and when, on type of quotation mark or whether to use another mark. How to indicate speech, creating pauses and trail-offs, showing interruptions, how to punctuate tagged speech, working with broken-up dialogue, handling evocative expressions, and dealing with faltering speech. Excellent! Also available in video.
When to Use Quotation Marks for Titles (Matt Ellis, Grammarly) Generally, use quotation marks for titles of short works such as articles, poems, songs, essays, or short stories. Use italics for larger works such as books, movies, and the names of periodicals. Useful list of when to use one or the other for titles (for example, italics for podcast but quote marks for episodes).
Punctuating Titles of Works (useful chart, The Punctuation Guide)
10 Things You Really Need to Know about Quotation Marks (The Visual Communication Guy)
Marking Text—Choosing Between Italics and Quotation Marks (Beth Hill, The Editor's Blog, 5-12-14)
Formatting Internal Dialogue: Quotation Marks or Italics? (Mignon Fogarty, Grammar Girl)
Single Quotes or Double Quotes? It’s Really Quite Simple. (Andrew Heisel, Slate, 10-21-14) The slide toward more informal use of single quotes (e.g., for thoughts, not things said aloud) may be because we are typing more than ever and we don't need to use the shift key to do the single quote....?
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)
Smart Quotes (Ilene Strizver, Fonts.com, on smart and dumb quotation marks and their parallel, smart and dumb apostrophes -- that is, straight vs. curly or slanted)

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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 “naïve” and “Laocoön” will be getting a workout this year, as the Democrats coöperate to reëlect 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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The debate about 1 space or 2 between sentences (and: spaces around dashes or not?)

The Scientific Case for Two Spaces After a Period (James Hamblin, The Atlantic, 5-11-18) A new study proves that half of people are correct. The other is also correct.
One space between each sentence, they said. Science just proved them wrong. (Avi Selk, Wash Post, 5-4-18) Response from a knowledgeable curmudgeon: Are two spaces better than one? A response to new research (Matthew Butterick, Practical Typography, and the author of Typography for Lawyers), which led to An inconclusive psycholinguistic take on post-period spacing (Neal Goldfarb, Language Log, 5-1-18)
How Many Spaces Go After a Period? One or Two? (Richard Nordquist, ThoughtCo., 1-23-18) Two if you're still using a typewriter; otherwise, one. "Spacing around the dash [or em dash] varies," according to "Merriam-Webster's Manual for Writers and Editors." "Most newspapers insert a space before and after the dash; many popular magazines do the same; but most books and journals omit spacing." So choose one way or the other, and then be consistent throughout your text.
Space Invaders (Farhad Manjoo, Slate, 1-12-11) Why you should never, ever use two spaces after a period.
Spaces between sentences (Grammarist) "Virtually every major style guide recommends a single space, and most major publishers and publications comply."
You Can Have My Double Space When You Pry it From My Cold, Dead Hands (Megan McArdle, The Atlantic, 1-14-11)
Nothing Says Over 40 Like Two Spaces after a Period! (Jennifer Gonzalez, Cult of Pedagagy, 8-12-14) And check this out, if you think this is a minor issue: The Price of Snark: What I Learned About Teaching from a Viral Post (10-9-14)

Punctuation generally (plus miscellaneous bits)

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.
Dropped Hyphens, Split Infinitives, and Other Thrilling Developments from the 2019 American Copy Editors Society Conference (Mary Norris, New Yorker, 4-2-19) The delightful Mary Norris reports on new developments at the American Copy Editors Society (ACES). Take time to watch the video exposés of common punctuation decisions. She is not afraid to make fun of the New Yorker's stubborn oldfashionedness, punctuationwise.
Mary Norris, Comma Queen (delightful New Yorker video series on points of grammar, punctuation)
How Writers Can Use Punctuation to Great Effect (Rachel Stout, New York Book Editors, on The Creative Penn, 3-23-18)
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."
Punctuating Comics: Breath Marks (Todd's Blog, Todd Klein on lettering, literature and more) Interesting and with interesting links. See also Punctuating Comics: Dots and Dashes
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."
The New Well-Tempered Sentence: A Punctuation Handbook for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doomed by Karen Elizabeth Gordon
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
How to Use Irony on the Internet (Gretchen McCulloch, WSJ, 8-10-19) Sarcasm is easily lost when you can’t arch an eyebrow, inflect or pause. So, all-lowercase to the rescue, and " the sarcasm tilde, as in, “That’s so ~on brand~” or “Well, aren’t you ~special~."
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. "
Space Invaders: Why you should never, ever use two spaces after a period. (Farhad Manjoo, Slate, 1-13-11). Check out the 1800 comments, and counting, this article elicited.
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


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"--see Commas, serial and otherwise). 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, and CBE/CSE.
The Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS), 17th Edition. The style Bible for general books and some magazines, and many professional copyeditors use the online edition). It's a style "guide," not a rule book, and the rules may be relaxed in particular for editing fiction and books containing dialogue, in which what you want to do is convey a speaker's style, not correctness. Useful pages on that site include these:
---CMOS Site Map
---Proofreaders’ Marks
---Chicago Style Q&A
---New Questions and Answers
---Chicago-Style Citation Quick Guide
---CMOS Online Help & Tools
---CMOS Video Tutorials
Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, the dictionary often used by professional editors.
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.)" [As of 2023 I'm not sure this is still true.]
The Associated Press Stylebook: 2022-2024 (aka the AP Stylebook ) is standard for publication style in newspapers and some magazines). The spiral-bound edition holds up better than the paperback. Each revision brings surprises. 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 (9th edition, 2021) . The guide for scholarly publishing (especially citations).
Garner's Modern English Usage (Bryan A. Garner, 5th edition, 2022). An excellent gift to a wordsmith. There is an older edition of Garner's Modern American Usage Not sure which of two words is appropriate in a given context? Helpful Language-Change Index.
Fowler's Dictionary of Modern English Usage (ed. Jeremy Butterfield, 4th edition) See Joseph Epstein's article about the first edition (WSJ, 1-20-17) "After completing the Concise Oxford Dictionary, Henry Watson Fowler suggested to Oxford University Press doing a dictionary that would leave out the obvious words and instead concentrate on those that were confusing and inexact as well as on troubling idioms and obsolete rules....Fowler was magisterial and commonsensical, immensely knowledgeable and understatedly witty, a grammatical moralist whose hatred of humbug made him a moralist on the side of good sense."

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.
The Radical Reinvention of the English Language (Steven Mintz, Inside Higher Ed, 4-20-23) Neologisms, slang, jargon, acronyms and loanwords are reshaping the language right before our eyes.


Alas, a subscription to Copyediting is no longer available.

How to write and style numbers

How to write and style numbers depends partly on whether you're writing fiction or nonfiction, and whether you're using American or British English.

Whatever style choices you make, be consistent.

      For newspapers, you'll probably use the AP Style Guide and spell out numbers less than eleven.  It came to eleven dollars. It came to $110.

      For fiction, using U.S. English, you'll probably use the Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) or Amy J. Schneider's book The Chicago Guide to Copyediting Fiction.

CMOS recommends spelling out all numbers less than 101, so it's fifty-three but 153. 

Spell out multiples of one hundred and spell out hours, half-hours, and quarter-hours (four p.m.)

More precise times are numerical (4:23 p.m.). A quarter to eight but 7:47.

Numbers also vary depending on what kind of number you're dealing with (address, phone number, time, measurement, sign, etc.


Check out the following useful guides:

Numbers (Answers to FAQs, Chicago Manual of Style Online) Goes past first page.
Numbers in Creative Writing (Carol Saller, CMOS Shop Talk, 1-31-20)
Numbers in Fiction (Beth Hill,The Editor's Blog, 1-13-13) There are certain conventions (not rules), and there are many exceptions. 
Writing Numbers (Purdue Online Writing Lab)
When Page Numbers Don’t Help (Carol Saller, CMOS Shop Talk, 2-18-20) Unusually helpful.
Numbers: Spell Out or Use Numerals? (Number Style 101) (AP vs. Chicago, 5-18-11)
When to Write Out Numbers: What Chicago, APA, and MLA Say About Numerals (Kaelyn Barron, TCK)
10 Rules for Writing Numbers and Numerals (Michael, DailyWritingTips), though many use "the eighties" not "the Eighties"
Numbers Google's developer documentation style guide

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(print and online listed together, but see also Online Style Guides, where you'll find things like the National Geographic Style Guide. If you look the book up on Amazon, check to see if there is a more recent edition than the one cited here, as they update constantly. )

AP Stylebook tips on the coronavirus (Kristen Hare, Poynter, 3-4-2020) For example: "COVID-19 is acceptable on first reference for the coronavirus disease that first appeared in late 2019. Because COVID-19 is the name of the disease, not the virus, it is not accurate to write a new virus called COVID-19. Instead: A new virus caused a disease called COVID-19.... The virus itself is called SARS-CoV-2, given by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses."
AAA Style Guide (follows Chicago Manual of Style; summary here of citation styles).
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)
AMA Manual of Style: A Guide for Authors and Editors 11th edition now available] (11th edition, American Medical Association -- "For medical writers and editors, the AMA Manual of Style remains the unrivaled point of departure."--Copyediting) and now also available online, by subscription. Check out Frequently asked questions and searchable online PDF of the index.
The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms.
• APSA Style Manual for Political Science Students, Style Manual for Political Science (American Political Science Association, APSA, guidelines for submission policies, grammar, usage, and citation)
AP Style Guide (The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing in Media Law, for journalism)
American Sociological Association Style Guide
Apple Style Guide (excellent free style guide for software documentation and other technical writing) pdf format
American Forces Press Service Supplement to the Associated Press Stylebook (PDF, 2012)
Art & Architecture Thesaurus® Online (Getty)
Asian American Journalists Association Guide to Covering Asian Americans (AAJA, online)
• Australian English dictionary. Macquarie Dictionary: Australia's National Dictionary
Aviation English (Wikipedia)
Bishop Fox Cybersecurity Style Guide (PDF, free download) How do you pronounce ASCII and? Should you write denial of service with hyphens? Is it pen testing or pentesting? Etc. Read Brianne Hughes of CMS on the guide, especially if you have a problem with acronyms.
The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation (20th edition, Columbia, Harvard, and University of Pennsylvania Law Reviews, and Yale Law Journal, for legal citation styles)
Brief Guide to AGU Style and Grammar (American Geophysical Union)
Buzzfeed style guide, a free online alphabetically organized list of words as capitalized and spelled for the internet and social media, useful for words like bitchface, chocolaty, cisgender, FaceTime (the Apple app), but face time (n.) (in all other uses). Keep scrolling down to find the list.
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.
CB Gazette Slang Dictionary CB radio lingo definitions. Learn what a “Kojak with a Kodak” is.
CDC Style Guide (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) "Achilles’ heel" BUT "Achilles tendon"
Classic Car Terminology (Classic Car Restoration Club)
CNS Stylebook on Religion: Reference Guide and Usage Manual (Catholic News Service) Entries on everything from Abba (always capitalize when used as a proper name for God) to zucchetto (don't call it a beanie!).
Concise Guide to APA Style (Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 7th Edition), now available on KINDLE, used in psychology and the social sciences.
• CSE Manual, (formerly CBE) Scientific Style and Format: The CSE Manual for Authors, Editors, and Publishers, Council of Science Editors
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)
Disability Language Style Guide (National Center on Disability and Journalism, NCDJ)
The Diversity Style Guide (Center for Integration and Improvement of Journalism, at San Francisco State University)
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
Fifty psychological and psychiatric terms to avoid: a list of inaccurate, misleading, misused, ambiguous, and logically confused words and phrases (Scott O. Lilienfeld and others, Frontiers in Psycbology, 8-3-15)
‘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 réviseurs)
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.
Idaho Geological Survey Style Guide, which follows Suggestions to Authors of the Reports of the United States Geological Survey
IEEE Style Guide, online (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers)
Illustrated Guide to Book Terminology Part 1: Book Structure (Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts) and Part 2: Conservation Treatment
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”."
Kube Publishing Ms. Preparation and House Style Guidelines (for books on Islam and the Muslim experience, Sept. 2014)
Lifehacker Tech Dictionary (once over lightly guide to internet as a whole)
The Little Style Guide to Great Christian Writing and Publishing by Carolyn Stanford Goss and Leonard Goss
Medical Abbreviations & Acronyms (Quick Study Academic laminated study guides
Medical Abbreviations: 55,000 Conveniences at the Expense of Communication and Safety by Neil M. Davis (a heavy book) also contains a cross-referenced list of 5,300 drug trade and generic names. A few pocket
Medical Abbreviations Dictionary (mediLexicon's big database is no more)
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)
National Security Agency (NSA) SIGINT Reporter's Style and Usage Manual (PDF, Governmentattic.org, 2010)
Naval War College Writing and Style Guide (PDF, U.S. Naval War College, 2007)
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.
New Oxford Dictionary for Scientific Writers and Editors (Elizabeth A. Martin)
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. See also 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)
PerfectIt Pro (Intelligent Editing). This MS Word add-in for PCs quickly locates consistency mistakes, tracks abbreviations to be sure they're defined, can learn your preferences and enforce your house style, especially helpful for legal editing. Many copyeditors swear by it.
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.
Public Contract Law Journal Style Guide (PDF, American Bar Association and GWU Law School) Helpful for knowing how to format such items as acts, laws, proceedings, etc.)
PubMed Tools
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 www.ecookbooks.com
The Recipe Writer's Handbook by Barbara Gibbs Ostmann and Jane L. Baker
Religion Dictionary (Association of Religion Data Archives, or the ARDA)
Religion Stylebook (Religion Newswriters free online style guide for journalists who report on religion in the mainstream media)
Reporter's Indigenous Terminology Guide (Native American Journalists Association, NAJA) See also Questions Agents and Editors Can Use to Evaluate American Indian Content (From Here to Writernity, 2-18-17)
Reporting on Mental Health Style Guide (download free PDF, Team Up, Suicide Prevention Resource Center, SPRC, California)
The SBL Handbook of Style (The Society of Biblical Literature)
Scientific Style And Format: The CSE Manual for Authors, Editors, And Publishers (8th edition).
Smashwords Style Guide eBook by Mark Coker. Well-illustrated, step-by-step instructions for producing and publishing an eBook through Smashwords (free download)
Special Education Dictionary
Sports Style Guide & Reference Manual : The Complete Reference for Sports Editors, Writers, and Broadcasters by Jennifer Swan
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
United Nations Editorial Manual Online
Urban Dictionary (helpful with really current slang)
United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Style and Graphics Guide (PDF, governmentattic.org, 2008)
WHO House Style (PDF; uses British spelling)
Wikipedia Manual of Style
World Bank Translation Style Guide
Writing About Music: A Style Sheet from the Editors of 19th-Century Music by D. Kern Holoman
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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Collocators. Wendalyn Nichols of the belated Copyediting Newsletter 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 or click: Pronunciation guides)

Many of us end up with both print and online versions of our most-used style guides (especially CMOS). The online version is good for instant access and for larger font. The print edition is often preferable when you want to read something at length or want to flip back and forth.


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(for technical publications, related to computers)
Amazon Kindle Publishing Guidelines
AP Stylebook Online ($, Associated Press style, for newspapers and some magazines, continually updated to include new "acceptable" usage), and Ask the Editor Q&As. Tweets distinctions between confusible words @AP Stylebookon Twitter.
APA Formatting and Style Guide (OWL) (American Psychological Association, on Purdue Online Writing Lab)
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
British National Corpus (BNC) online
Buzzfeed style guide (standards for the internet and social media--note lowercase internet)

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CDC Style Guide (PDF, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Scroll down to click on symbol for free download. 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) Bookmark Browse Q&A where questions are handily organized by category.
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)
Chicago Manual of Style 17th Edition Document formatting and citation, CMS style, as presented by Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL)
The Chicago Guide to Grammar, Usage, and Punctuation by Bryan A. Garner (Chicago University Press)
CMS Crib Sheet (Dr. Abel Scribe PhD) Chicago Style brief, applied to research papers. 
Conscious Style Guide Note the visual index, linking to terminology for various communities--in terms of ability + disability; age; appearance; empowerment; ethnicity, race, + nationality; gender, sex, and sexuality; health; and more); links to articles debating usage, geared to studying words as tools instead of unwitting weapons)
English-Corpora.org (not a style guide but a frequency list, based on a huge collection of texts, at Brigham Young University). See Side-by-side comparisons of corpora (American and British English) and The Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA) and the American National Corpus (ANC) As compared with the American National Corpus (ANC)

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Disability Style Guide (National Center on Disability & Journalism, NCDJ)
The Diversity Style Guide for journalists and media professionals.
DOD Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms
Economist style guide, with good general style guidance on, for example, Singular or Plural? (British style, but sensible). New version not available as this was being updated.
Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), site for downloading free guide

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FAQs on Style (Philip B. Corbett, After Deadline blog, NYTimes.com)
50 Style Guide Tools, Articles, Books and Resources (Kezz Bracey, Tuts+, 6-11-14)
French Canadian style guide (PDF, Cultural and Linguistic Characteristics of Québec, Office québécois de la langue française--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 SALÉ (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 Académie française (for style guide in French).
Garner's Modern English Usage (not onloine)

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GPO Style Manual ( U.S. Government Printing Office, 2016) Free PDF download or purchase the print edition (search Amazon for less expensive editions). See also How to Work with Government Publishing Office (GPO) Style (PerfectIt)
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
Harvard Library guide to style handbooks and online guides. It explains that "Harvard style" is a misnomer for author-date references in text (Smith 1947), which refer reader to full bibliography appended, which some Harvard professors used in late 19th C., and the name stuck.
Health Affairs Style Guide
How to Learn a Style Guide in 10 Days (PDF, Colleen Barron's presentation at ACES)
IEEE Style Guide for Transactions, Journals, and Letters (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers)
ISMP List of Confused Drug Names (Institute for Safe Medication Practices)
ISMP List of Error-Prone Abbreviations, Symbols, and Dose Designations (Institute for Safe Medication Practices)
Japan Style Sheet (SWET Guide for Writers, Editors, and Translators). See also Monumenta Nipponica Style Sheet (for those who work on documents in the humanities and social sciences)

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MailChimp Content Style Guide (email marketing)
Managed Care magazine's manual of style (PDF)
Media Takes: On Aging: Style Guide for Journalism, Enertainment and Advertising (International Longevity Center). Not a traditional style guide.
Memrise English Visual Dictionary
Medical Library Association (MLA) Style Manual
MLA Formatting and Style Guide (Modern Language Association style guide, as presented on Purdue Online Writing Lab, or OWL)
Mother Jones’ Style Guide (2-10-2020)
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)
NABJ Style Guide (National Association of Black Journalists)
NASA History Style Guide (National Aeronautics and Space Administration)
National Geographic Style Manual (especially useful for place names)

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OECD Style Guide, 3rd edition
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!
Oxford Style Guide (University of Oxford, for British publications)
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

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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).
Stedman's Medical Dictionary (Drugs.com)
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)
Style Guides (Wikipedia's primer and links, by topic (academic papers, business, government, journalism, law, religion, science, etc.)
Tips for Using Patient-Friendly Language (Katharine O'Moore-Klopf, ACES, 1-14-19)
25 Online Style Guides for Marketing Pros (Michael Ream, McGuire Editorial)
United Nations 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.
US Navy Style Guide (PDF, 2017)
Videogame Style Guide and Reference Manual (IGJA wiki)
Visual Dictionary Online (Merriam Webster) Invaluable use of images with parts named.

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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)
World Bank Translation Style Guide (American English, on p. 25 is a long useful list of countries and the adjectives used for them: e.g., Côte d'Ivoire, Ivorians, Republic of Cote d'Ivoire; Denmark, Dane, Danish, Kingdom of Denmark)
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., on -ize, -ise, or -yse?).
New Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors (OUP, 2014) Lists both UK and US spellings.
The Nationalist Roots of Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary (Jess McHugh, Paris Review, 3-30-18) To distinguish American from British English, Webster adopted new spellings: "color" for "colour," "mimic" for "mimick," etc. The politics and commerce of dictionary-making!
British and American spelling (video, excellent overview of common style differences)
Differences between American English and British English (In Other Words translation agency)
What are the important differences between Canadian and American (USA) English? (English Language & Usage)
Differences Between American and British English (Kenneth Beare, About Education, English as a Second Language)
British to American/American to British (Kenneth Beare's vocabulary tool)
How American editors are different from British editors (Lynne Murphy, Aces: The Society for Editing, 4-28-18) "Given the many differences between American and British English, the way in which American and British editors edit is no doubt different as well. One difference? American editors edit in favor of rules, while British editors edit in favor of voice. American editors have a written set of rules, while British editors do not. Murphy is the author of The Prodigal Tongue: The Love-Hate Relationship Between American and British English
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). "The Economist had finally let go of its restriction on not splitting infinitives."
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
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)
Meanings and origins of Australian words and idioms (online dictionary, Australian National University, School of Literature, Language and Linguistics)
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)
Strine: Let Stalk Strine and Nose Tone Unturned by Afferbeck Lauder. For those who need to know the meanings of words sometimes spoken by Strines (Australians): "Egg nishner" - air-conditioner. Fraffly - Frightfully. "Egg wetter gree" - I quite agree. "Gray chooma" - Great humour. From Wikipedia entry for Afferbeck Lauder.
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 vs. American punctuation
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)
Translations — Australian into other English, eg American (Fiona Lake)
Macquarie Dictionary Online (Australian English)
The ABC Style Guide (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
The Cambridge Guide to Australian English Usage (13-page PDF)
The Australian Editing Handbook by Elizabeth Flann, Beryl Hill, and Lan Wang
A dictionary of slang, includes British, general English, American, Australian, New Zealand, etc.
BuzzFeed Australia Style Guide
BuzzFeed UK Style Guide (both are addenda to the main BuzzFeed Style Guide (H/T to Keri Morgret for ledes to Australian English style guides)
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

The 2022 World Cup is being hosted in Qatar, which, as everyone knows, is pronounced

Kut AH    KUH ter    GUH ter or   KAT ar

(Sarah Lyall, pronounced LYE-yull, NY Times, 11-21-22)

     Listen to this YouTube riff on the same problem.
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.
17 Famous Company Names You’re Actually Pronouncing All Wrong (Andy Simmons, Reader's Digest)
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/.
Appalachian English: Why We Say “Warsh Rag” & “Low Tar” (Appalachian Magazine, 11-9-18) I leave the link here but the magazine apparently went out of business. Is there another place to find this story?


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Diversity style and media guides

(usage as to ability/disability, age, appearance, color, ethnicity/nationality, gender/sexuality, health, and bias)

Diversity style guides
Gender identity (including LGBTQIA)
Drug abuse, mental health, and suicide prevention
Bias Busters: guides to cultural competence

Diversity style & media guides

"If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head.

If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart."

~ Nelson Mandela


Below are links to style guides focused on such aspects of inclusion as being trans; LGBTQ; disabled; having problems with drug abuse, mental health, or being suicidal; various ethnicities; experiencing various forms of bias.

Minority Groups, by percentage (Ongig)

AAJA Guide to Covering Asian America (Asian American Journalists Association)
• Capitalizing Black (and white?) See section on Capitalization for entries on capitalizing Black.
AP Stylebook updates race-related terms (2021) In ethnic/cultural sense: Black(s), white(s) (n.), Indigenous (adj.), people of color, Black Lives Matter, #BlackLivesMatter.
Conscious Style Guide (Karen Yin) In one place: style guides covering bias-free 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.
Covering Asian Americans (Asian American Journalists Association, AAJA)
Cultural Competence Handbook (National Association of Hispanic Journalists) Guidance on writing about immigration, victims of violence and crime (covering sexual assault, abductions, incest, domestic violence, etc.), the LGBTQ community, sexism and gender stereotypes, inclusion and diversity in health reporting.
Disability Language Style Guide (National Center on Disability and Journalism). See mini-section on Disabilities style and media guides below.
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
Diversity Style Guides for Journalists (The Open Notebook)
Elements of Indigenous Style: A Guide for Writing By and About Indigenous Peoples by Gregory Younging
The Global Press Style Guide International news, reimagined: dignity, diversity, transparence. Indicates key deviations from AP Stylebook.
How to edit articles about Black people (Susan Weiner, CFA, Investment Writing, 3-23-21)
Inclusive Language Guide Online Master of Arts in Counseling program, The Family Institute at Northwestern University, 10-16-19) Useful "instead of this, try this" examples for ability, addiction, criminal justice, demographics and race, medical, mental health, and socioeconomic language.
Indigenous Peoples Language Guide (University of British Columbia)
Journalist Style Guide: Covering Immigrants with Convictions (Comm Unity Network, Language for Liberation)
Latinx—What Does it Really Mean? (Hispanic Network) "Latinx is a gender neutral term often used in lieu of Latino or Latina that refers to individuals [in U.S.] with cultural ties to Latin America and individuals with Latin American descent. The -x replaces the standard o/a ending of Latino and is intended to be more gender inclusive." But see ‘Latinx’ hasn’t even caught on among Latinos. It never will. (Jose A. Del Real, Washington Post, 12-18-2020) The term is an English-language contrivance, not a real gesture at gender inclusivity. Lin Manuel Miranda proposes “Latiné,” the gender-neutral term more commonly used by people of Latin descent in the LGBTQ community.

Media Takes on Aging (International Longevity Center, Aging Services of California)
NABJ Style Guide (National Association of Black Journalists)
NABJ Style Guide (one-page insert for AP Style Guide)
NAHJ Cultural Competence Handbook (National Association of Hispanic Journalists)
The Native American Journalists Association releases three Indigenous Media Guides for reporting on First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities.
The Photographers Guide to Inclusive Photography (PhotoShelter and Authority Collective) Definitions and historical context for issues related to photographing race, gender, the Global South and more.
A Progressive’s Style Guide (PDF, Sum of Us)
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)
Racial and Ethnic Identity (American Psychological Association, or APA)
The Radical Copyeditor’s Style Guide for Writing About Transgender People (Alex Kapitan, Radical Copyeditor)
Religion Stylebook (Religion Newswriters Association, by journalists, for journalists).
SPJ Race & Gender Hotline (fast answers for confused journalists)
The Stylebook on LGBTQ Terminology (Download PDF from NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists. In English and in Spanish.
Trans Style Guide (Trans Journalists Association) Scroll down for fuller section on style and media guides about gender identity. See also TransHub (NSW).
Use of Inclusive Language Elsevier's policy for its publications)
What Words We Use — and Avoid — When Covering People and Incarceration (The Marshall Project)

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Style and media guides about gender identity

(Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Cisgender, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual, or LGBTQIA)

    Sex (male or female) is a label you're assigned by a doctor at birth based on the genitals and chromosomes you're born with. It goes on your birth certificate.
    Gender is more of a social construct. It's a social and legal status and set of expectations from society, about behaviors, characteristics, and thoughts. Each culture has standards about the way people should behave based on their gender. This is also generally male or female. But instead of being about body parts, it's more about how you're expected to act and look.
Gender & Sexuality Dr. Anne Fausto-Sterling's expert explanations and links to more on the topic. She is author of the "brilliant and provocative" book Sexing the Body.
Five tips for journalists on covering trans and nonbinary people (Lewis Raven Wallace, Columbia Journalism Review, 9-30-19)
KFF/The Washington Post Trans Survey (Ashley Kirzinger, Audrey Kearney, Alex Montero, Grace Sparks, Lindsey Dawson, and Mollyann Brodie, KFF, 3-24-23) See also
---Casey Parks and Washington Post Pollsters Depict Trans Life in the U.S. (Darren Incorvaia, The Open Notebook, 10-3-23) "The full survey report is rich with statistics and figures about the lived experiences of trans adults in the U.S.; for example, while 57 percent of trans people started using a different name as part of their transition, only 24 percent have legally changed their name on official documents such as passports."
---Understanding Trans Identity in the U.S. (one-page fact sheet) among many other resources.
---Washington Post journalism on the topic, including
---6 key takeaways from the Post-KFF survey of transgender Americans
Teacher, ACLU file challenge to new K-3 ban on 'human sexuality' education (Casey Smith, Indiana News and Tribune, 6-13-23) "A new Indiana law that critics say will effectively ban discussions about LGBTQ+ people in schools under the guise of blocking conversations around “human sexuality” now faces a legal challenge. [A longer quote than usual because the article lays out key issues well.]
     "The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Indiana filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana Friday on behalf of a public school teacher in Indianapolis who says the law infringes her constitutional rights. According to the complaint, the teacher has a classroom library in her classroom that contains “age-appropriate books across a diverse spectrum of subjects and concerns, including LGBTQ+ issues, such as biographies of Harvey Milk, and Elton John.” She also has in her student classroom library the book “And Tango Make Three,” which is based on the true story of two male penguins who raise a chick together.
     "Davis and other GOP lawmakers have maintained the measure intends to “empower Hoosier parents by reinforcing that they’re in the driver’s seat when it comes to introducing sensitive topics to their children.” She said previously that the bill was a response to numerous concerns of parents in her district.
     "Supporters further say parents have the “right” and “responsibility” to control what their children learn — and are called — when at school.
      "But critics of the law have argued that it’s part of a nationwide wave of legislation “singling out LGBTQ+ people and their families.” More specifically, they say that the new law could put transgender children at risk of harm if they’re outed to unsupportive or abusive parents.
       "The lawsuit alleges that teachers have “no idea” about whether or not such books qualify as “instruction . . . on human sexuality” or whether or not they can discuss any topics regarding same-sex relationships."
Gender, gender identity, and gender expression (MyHealth.alberta.ca) "Gender identity is your deeply-held inner feelings of whether you’re female or male, both, or neither. Your gender identity isn’t seen by others. Your gender identity may be the same as the sex you were assigned at birth (cisgender) or not (transgender). Clear definitions of terms many of us are unsure about:

   Transgender ("your gender identity doesn't match up with the sex you were assigned at birth")

   Agender ("you don't identify with any gender")

   Gender non-conforming, non-binary, and gender fluid ("you don't identify fully as a man or a boy (male, masculine) or a woman or a girl (female, feminine)."

   Gender queer ("you identify or express yourself beyond what is often linked to the sex and gender you were assigned at birth").

Gender-Neutral Pronouns in Creative Writing (Carol Saller, CM0S Shoptalk, 4-20-21) Plenty of creative writers use “they/them” pronouns (among others) for nonbinary characters.
LGBTQIA Resource Center Glossary (UCDavis, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual Resource Center)
GLAAD Media Reference Guide (PDF, download free). GLAAD rewrites the script for LGBT acceptance.
LGBTQ Terms (a short guide, from Neutrois.com)
Making Your Writing and Reporting Transgender-Inclusive (Tara Santora, The Open Notebook, 9-22-2020) "If you are a cisgender journalist and an editor asks you to cover a story focused on the trans community, think about recommending a trans journalist to take the assignment instead."
9 questions about gender identity and being transgender you were too embarrassed to ask (German Lopez, Vox, 2-22-17)
Questionable Questions About Transgender Identity (National Center for Transgender Equality) Before you ask a transgender person a question, pause and think whether you’re treating them differently—and asking more personal or inappropriate questions—simply because they’re transgender. (Meanwhile, many questions are answered here.)
The Radical Copyeditor’s Style Guide for Writing About Transgender People (Alex Kapitan, Radical Copyeditor) "Transgender means having a gender identity that does not align, according to societal expectations, with one's birth-assigned sex. Cisgender means having a gender identity that does align with one's birth-assigned sex." See also What’s the Best Way to Refer to Everyone Who Isn’t Cis? (5-12-21) and Avoiding Invalidating Language Traps (7-13-18).
Sex Is as Sex Does Governing Transgender Identity by Paisley Currah (on the politics of sex classification)
Stylebook Supplement on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender Terminology National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA)
Trans Style Guide (Trans Journalists Associations)
TransYouth (The Transgender Law Center), for media professionals reporting on transgender and gender non-conforming youth.
Nonbinary.org (a wiki). For a list of international gender-neutral pronouns, see the entry on Pronouns.
It’s Time for ‘They’ (Farhad Manjoo, NY Times, 7-10-19) The singular “they” is inclusive and flexible, and it breaks the stifling prison of gender expectations. Let’s all use it. See also Singular 'They' (Merriam-Webster) Though singular 'they' is old, 'they' as a nonbinary pronoun is new—and useful. The Royal They (John McWhorter, New Republic, 4-30-13) Fighting against the tyranny of pronouns. "Each student was talking about how hard their homework was." Singular They: Doctor He, She, or They? Changing Gender, and Language, in “Doctor Who” (Conscious Style Guide, celebrating the power of speculative fiction to challenge our preconceptions)
Understanding Gender (Gender Spectrum, a nonprofit dedicated to creating gender sensitivity and inclusive environments for children and teens)
Understanding Pronouns (LGBT Life Center) What's a pronoun, why they matter, and what to do if you make a mistake

Gender and sexuality (Useful general articles about the topic.)

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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 Disabilities style and media guides
Tip sheets for reporters and ADA.gov (information and technical assistance on the Americans with Disabilities Act, U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division)
Covering disability (tips for journalists)
Guidelines for Writing about People with Disabilities (ADA National Network, Information, Guidance, and Training on the Americans with Disabilities ACT). See related posters (KU's Research & Training Center on Independent Living)
People First Language and More (Disability Is Natural)
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.
Ableism in Writing and Everyday Language (Crystal Shelley, ACES, 3-6-21) and Ableism (National Conference for Community and Justice) In a post for the Center for Disability Rights, Leah Smith explains that ableism “often rests on the assumption that disabled people need to be ‘fixed’ in one form or the other.” She explains how ableism usually stems from non-disabled people with good intentions: how we view disability as something wrong, how we treat people with disabilities through our actions and our language, and how we exclude them from having a seat at the table and a voice in conversations."
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.
5 Tips for Equity and Inclusion in Medical Writing and Editing (Genevieve Walker, American Medical Writers Association, 4-26-21) Inclusive language acknowledges diversity, conveys respect to all people, is sensitive to differences, and promotes equal opportunities.
It’s Perfectly OK To Call A Disabled Person ‘Disabled,’ And Here's Why (Brittany Wong, Huffpost, 6-14-19) We've been taught to refer to people with disabilities using person-first language, but that might be doing more harm than good. “If someone feels like labeling me as ‘disabled’ makes me less of a person in some way, that’s really saying a lot about them, isn’t it?” says Shayla Maas, who hosts the podcast Tips and Tricks on How to Be Sick.
• A "Science, not stigma" presenter at the 2019 conference of the National Association of Science Writers suggested:  Instead of euphemisms ("differently abled," "wheelchair-bound" or "confined to a wheelchair," "handicapable" or "handicapped," "suffers from," "special needs," referring to nondisabled people as "regular" or "normal") use neutral language: "people with disabilities," "disabled people," "nondisabled people," "wheelchair user" or "uses a wheelchair," "blind people" or "people with low vision," "hard of hearing" or "deaf people," "autistic people," "abled" vs. "able-bodied."  Basically: "Use neutral language. Don't assume a negative relationship between people and their disabilities."

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Media guides on drug abuse, mental health, and suicide prevention

Words Matter: Reporting on Mental Health Conditions (American Psychiatric Association)
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)

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Bias Busters: guides to cultural competence

(mostly in 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 About Arab Americans: A Journalist's Guide (Arab Media)
100 Questions & Answers About Arab Americans
100 Questions & Answers About East Asian Cultures
100 Questions & Answers About Indian Americans (with ties to India) (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

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Grammar and style books for writers
who wince at the idea of grammar
and for popular reading

"Grammar is a piano I play by ear." ~ Joan Didion
"Texting has reduced the number of waste words, but it has also exposed a black hole of ignorance about traditional--what a cranky guy would call correct--grammar." ~Richard Corliss

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
The Deluxe Transitive Vampire: The Ultimate Handbook of Grammar for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doomed by Karen Elizabeth Gordon--good, amusing explanations keep you reading and illustrate grammatical principles in passing. In a similar vein, and by the same author: The New Well-Tempered Sentence: A Punctuation Handbook for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doomed
Do I Make Myself Clear?: Why Writing Well Matters by Harold Evans, a better-than-average guide to writing better, and he has credentials.
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 clear writing by many, and a bad influence on grammar by others--e.g., 50 Years of Stupid Grammar Advice by Geoffrey K.Pullum (Chronicle of Higher Education, 4-17-09). See this interesting NY Times review (by Jennifer Balderama) of Mark Garvey's book Stylized: A Slightly Obsessive History of Strunk & White's The Elements of Style
Engrish.com (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)
Like, Literally, Dude: Arguing for the Good in Bad English by Valerie Fridland
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)
Plain English for Lawyers by Richard C. Wydick. Exercises after each chapter help readers get the point.
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
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)

Three Books for the Grammar Lover in Your Life. Robert Lane Greene, for NPR, recommends The Power Of Babel: A Natural History Of Language by John McWhorter; The Lexicographer's Dilemma: The Evolution Of 'Proper' English, From Shakespeare To 'South Park' by Jack W. Lynch; and A Dictionary Of Modern English Usage by H. W. Fowler and David Crystal, an update of the classic by a linguist.


"Encourage children to write their own stories, and then don't rain on their parade. Don't say, 'That's not true.' Applaud flights of fantasy. Help with spelling and grammar, but stand up and cheer the use of imagination."~Gail Carson Levine

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

Standards for citation differ somewhat between trade and academic publishing. Citations for trade books are a bit more relaxed, the assumption being perhaps that people are reading for interest, not as part of research to be further cited. One of the most time-consuming problem for editors of other people's manuscripts can be fixing the footnotes and citations in a manuscript where the author has jumbled together two or more reference styles.  Choose one reference style, authors, and stick to it.

What is Chicago style? (Chicago Manual of Style, CMOS Shop Talk, 1-3-15) For students, using “Chicago style” usually means putting notes and bibliographies into the formats laid out in The Chicago Manual of Style or in Kate Turabian’s Manual for Writers. For advanced students and professional writers, it can also mean following Chicago’s rules for capitalizing and punctuation, for setting up tables and writing figure captions or lists, and for managing almost any other aspect of writing almost any kind of document. Many school libraries provide free access.
What’s New in the CMOS 17 Citation Chapters (Chicago Manual of Style, CMOS Shop Talk, 5-4-17)
Is Turabian style the same as Chicago style? (Chicago Manual of Style, CMOS Shop Talk, 2-3-15) Turabian = Kate L. Turabian’s Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations. Turabian is the student version of The Chicago Manual of Style, aimed at high school and college students who are writing papers, theses, and dissertations that are not intended for publication. The Chicago Manual of Style is aimed at professional scholars and publishers. The two books are compatible; both are official Chicago style.
A Farewell to Ibid (Cathy Hannabach and Sarah Grey, ACES, 4-26-19) The Chicago Manual of Style (the bible for book copyeditors) has released its 17th edition. CMS is retiring ibid., the abbreviation (short for Latin ibidem, or “in the same place”) used to tell readers that the endnote or footnote they’re looking at refers to the same source as the previous note. Ibid. has confused generations of young readers. Now: use shortened citations on repeats. Some of us oldies will miss Ibid.

"Incipit" endnotes (or "blind" endnotes). These endnotes found at the end of some narrative nonfiction,  keyed to short phrases (or "incipits"), don't use the superscript footnote number to call out "here's the source." Publishers resist them because they are labor-intensive for author, editor, and typesetter. They are strictly source citations (no additional text), and usually there is some signal in the text as to the source (the name of author quoted, "one newspaper reported," etc.). Why use them? You don't clutter the text with superscripts, yet you provide the source information. (Thanks to Gary Rosen for that explanation.)
Citing sources: Citation style guides (MIT Libraries) An overview list of citation style guides: MLA (Modern Language Association, [Humanities], APA (American Psychological Association [Social Sciences]), CMS (Chicago Manual of Style [various subjects]), ACS (American Chemical Society), CSE (Council of Science Editors), IEEE (Institute of Electronics & Electrical Engineers), NLM (National Library of Medicine), AMA (American Medical Association).
CitationGenerator.com (Scribbr)
• I deleted old entries about Zotero, Mendeley, BibMe, etc., after I learned about CitationGenerator.com Easybib, Bibme, and Citation Machine, were all bought up by Chegg Inc. and were heavily plastered with ads.

Zotero and ZoteroBib "Take a look at Zotero, which is free, and automatically formats citations in various styles (APA, Chicago, and on and on). Writes one user: "You may have to reenter the source material first in the Zotero database--not hard to do, navigate to the book's page on Amazon, click on the Zotero icon in the URL corner--and done. Ditto for academic articles, but beware Zotero uses meta data so it's subject to the 'garbage in, garbage out' rule. I've changed citation styles on the fly, from one form of Chicago to another, not from APA to Chicago. But I think it works. I've used Zotero with Word but it supposedly works with Google Docs as well."

     Zotero is also described thus: "Your personal research assistant. Zotero is a free, easy-to-use tool to help you collect, organize, cite, and share research."

br />• 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!
Purdue/OWL Overview on Documenting Sources
Discipline-Specific Citation Styles (UAB Libraries, links to sites for information on different citation styles)
Perma.cc "Perma.cc a service that helps scholars, courts and others create web citation links that will never break. Perma.cc prevents link rot."
Citing Electronic Editions: or, Getting on the Same Page (Erin Brenner, AMA Style Insider, 5-7-12)
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.
Citation Machine (Bluebook Law Review)
Macro tools and editing software for editors and proofreaders (Writersandeditors.com) 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 on the late great Copyediting, 4-28-15, so no longer available) "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.
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)
Citation Management (Cornell University Library links to guides for citing sources and to citation tools
Citation Management Tools: Which guide is best for you? (MIT Libraries) The MIT Libraries support EndNote, Zotero, and Mendeley. Which program is right for you? Some things to think about when you choose... Excellent comparison chart. Further resources.
How to Cite Online Sources (such as Tweets or other social media) (Blogging.com)
Citing Records in the National Archives of the United States (PDF, leaflet 17, especially for genealogists and the like)
Citation Style, Part 1: Mash Up for Modern Media (Erin Brenner, Copyediting, 3-17-15); Citation Style, Part 2: Citing Social Media (Brenner, Copyediting 3-24-15)
How to Tell Public from Private Sources for Citation (Adrienne Montgomerie, Copyediting, 12-4-17) And How to Tell Public from Private Sources for Citation, Part II (Adrienne Montgomerie, Copyediting, 12-11-17)
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)
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" ("licence" being a tipoff it's not U.S. style).
Scientific Style and Format Citation Quick Guide (short version, drawn from Scientific Style and Format: The CSE Manual for Authors, Editors, and Publishers
Vancouver Style (Monash University) A numbered referencing style commonly used in medicine and science, often favored in Canada.
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.
Manuals of Style and Formatting Guides (Sacramento State University Library) A list of guides and links to online style manuals for various subject areas.
Which styles should you use in which areas of study? (University Library, Cal State)
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.

Merriam-Webster's online dictionary, now with 1,000 more words. See story: How the dusty Merriam-Webster dictionary reinvented itself. Bigly. (James Sullivan, Boston Globe, 2-14-17)

•  How Dictionaries Define Us: Margaret Boyle and Ilan Stavans in Conversation (Los Angeles Times, 3-30-22) A long essay/conversation about the different dictionary traditions in the English and Spanish speaking worlds. Each definition and edition bears the imprint of the people and the time that created it. A shadow "double" dictionary exists comprising all the words that were excluded. (H/T The Browser)

• Kyle Hawke on Ask a Book Editor's Facebook page suggests these dictionaries: Use Merriam-Webster only for US English, the OED for UK English, Oxford Canadian for Canadian English, and I believe, Macquarie for Australian English. Included below are both general and specialized dictionaries,

• *Abbreviations.com 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 (Abbreviations.com — by field)
A.Word.A.Day archives (Wordsmith)
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)
AskOxford.com (Compact Oxford English Dictionary, Little Oxford Dictionary of Quotations), and Concise Dictionary of First Names
Astronomy and Particle Physics Dictionary (diclib.com)
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 (diclib.com, 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)
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 American Regional English (DARE)
Dictionary of Medical Acronyms & Abbreviations(Health.am)
Dictionary of Law (diclib.com)
Dictionary of the Scots Language (DSL)

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DOD Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms (PDF, U.S. Department of Defense) See also Writing Style Guide and Preferred Usage for DoD Issuances
The Eggcorn Database
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, about.com)
Findlaw Law Dictionary
FOLDOC (free online dictionary of computing--i.e., a computing dictionary)
FreeDictionary Legal Dictionary
Generic and genericized trademarks, List of (Wikipedia)
Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names ® 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 YourDictionary.com
Howjsay.com (a free online talking dictionary of English pronunciation--both British and American versions of words)
Hutchinson dictionary of difficult words (from literati to verbigerative)
InternetSlang.com (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)
Law.com 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
Memidex.com (online dictionary and thesaurus, with definitions, etymology, audio pronunciation guides, extensive cross-referencing, complete inflections, and frequent updates)

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U.S. Navy Style Guide (2017)
Netlingo (online dictionary of Internet and computer terms, including text and chat acroynms)
NRC Editorial Style Guide (U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission)
OneLook dictionary search
100 most commonly mispelled (oops misspelled) words in English (yourdictionary.com)
100 most often mispronounced words and phrases in English (yourdictionary.com)
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 (diclib.com, 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, meanings and origins of 1,200 English sayings, expressions, colloquial and literary phrases, and idioms)

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Plain Language Offenders (and simple words to replace them)
 • 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
Slang dictionaries. Jack Milgram links to several, among "100 Best Online Dictionaries"
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@inta.org 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.

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The Visual Dictonary (infovisual.info) 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
whatamieating.com (a searchable online international food dictionary)
A.Word.A.Day(Wordsmith.org). See archive. You can subscribe. Example: lipography PRONUNCIATION: (li-POG-ruh-fee, ly-) MEANING: noun: The omission of a letter or syllable in writing. NOTES: In spite of what it sounds like, lipography is not writing with lips. Instead, it’s the omission, inadvertent or on purpose, of a letter or syllable in writing.
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)
Wordsmith Words, anagrams, pangrams, palindromes, etc.
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)
Fact Checking Is the Core of Nonfiction Writing. Why Do So Many Publishers Refuse to Do It? (Emma Copley Eisenberg, Esquire, 8-26-2020) Emma Copley Eisenberg discusses the dangers of authors being forced to hire their own fact-checker out of pocket. If they do so at all.
Edwin Dobb's advice to Roxanne Khamsi (The Open Notebook, 8-20-19) "I was at the UC Berkeley 11th Hour Food and Farming Journalism Fellowship with Michael Pollan [in 2015], and Dobb was one of the advisers. He said, “You overwrite. Be simple, be straightforward, be sparing with your words.” He said it in a very kind way and a blunt way. And I was like, “Ok, you are right.” It’s kind of a surgical process where I go back and cut out the fat. Adverbs get trimmed out. Extra clauses get booted. Maybe one day I will write lean sentences on the first try. But until then I have to review each of them and do a bunch of pruning. I try to practice it even in my emails. It’s something I am going to try to work on the rest of my life."
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.
• Preparing your manuscript. Advice for Writers: Preparing Your E-Manuscript (Subversive Copy Editor, 7-5-10)
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.
Make the Most of Spellcheck, Part 1 (Adrienne Montgomerie, Copyediting, 2-12-18) Spellcheck Settings: Language, Style, and Display
---How to Set Word’s Language Preference for Spell Check (12-14-15)
---Make the Most of Spellcheck, Part 2 (2-19-18) Running spellcheck, readability statistics, rerunning spellcheck. 'Telling Word to “recheck the document” will make it forget all the misspellings you told it to ignore previously, giving you a chance to recheck them. Note that any words you “added” previously will remain in the dictionary.'
---Make the Most of Spellcheck, Part 3 (2-26-18) Customizing dictionaries, importing custom dictionaries, using multiple dictionaries.
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 and Me Need to Talk (John McWhorter, Opinion, NY Times, 10-22-21) Interesting, and do you agree or disagree?

“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 ­essentially you're on your own. ­Nobody 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 Tóibín, Rose Tremain, Sarah Waters, and Jeanette Winterson.

"Keep a light, hopeful heart," writes Joyce Carol Oates. "But ­expect 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). And news flash: Accepting the Truth of Split Infinitives A car CAN collide with a tree (AP gave up on the idea that “two objects must be in motion before they can collide” is a notable, if ) and The Economist will now allow split infinitives (Erin Brenner, Copyediting, 5-11-18). They were getting too many complaints about the awkward sentences keeping the infinitives united.

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 clichés 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.
And from a different vantage point: Forty-Six Writing Wrongs (Jerome Doolittle, Bad Attitudes--a list he used to hand out to his students at Harvard).

'For example, I don’t “cheerfully greet” my neighbor. You don’t, either. Nobody observes their own actions, then labels how they did them. Here’s what I do: I yell, “Heyyyy, girrrrl” and watch her face crack into that grin, the one like a third martini....This means no adverbs. Ever. There’s no quicker way to rip us off the rollercoaster and park us on the granny-bench than to adverb your verbs." --Cyndy Etler, How to Write Memoir So They Don’t Read It, They Live It, on Jane Friedman's blog, 3-6-18)

Grammar quizzes and exercises

ACES interactive online quizzes, testing knowledge in many subject areas
Aces Grammar Guide Quizzes (prepared by Pam Nelson, also called Triangle Grammar Guide Quizzes)
AP Style Quizzes (Oxford University Press)
Are You a Grammar Geek? (Harvard Business Review)
Chicago Style Workouts (Chicago Manual of Style, or CMOS)
Copy Edit This! Quiz (excellent series of New York Times quizzes)
Editing Quiz (William Allen White School of Journalism)
Free Interactive Grammar Quizzes, Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation
Globe grammar quiz 2018: Are you smarter than one of our editors? (Sylvia Stead, Globe and Mail, 8-24-18) A challenging grammar quiz.
Grammar Bytes! interactive grammar review (active learning exercises)
Interactive Grammar and Writing Quizzes (CCC)
Online Grammar Assessment (Dr. Kristi Siegel)
Online Grammar Quizzes (Cengage Learning)
Online grammar quizzes (City University of Seattle)
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
Quizzes on the Language Portal of Canada, including these Quizzes on grammar and syntax.
Grammar Theory and Practice (St. Albans School, punctuation, parts of speech, clauses, diagramming, verb tenses, practice exercises)
SAT Test Prep: Diction Errors (Schoolbag.info)
Self-study quizzes for students of ESL
Visual Thesaurus Spelling Bee

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The expected order of adjectives

aka The royal 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" (size, opinion, 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). Mignon Fogarty, Grammar Girl, suggests another order (opinion, size, age, shape, color, origin, material, and purpose, or OSASCOMP), emphasizing that there are many exceptions, some of which depend on what "sounds right. 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). Werber gives examples of how commas are often omitted between adjectives when they are in that particular order (e.g., "a tall young man," "an old Russian song," "an old white cotton shirt." And a Guide to Grammar page on adjectives points out that certain adjectives, in combination with certain words, always come AFTER the thing they modify: "The president elect, heir apparent to the Glitzy fortune, lives in New York proper."

How to Use Adjectives Wisely and Judiciously (Peter Selgin on Jane Friedman's blog, 4-25-18) "With modifiers, you want to choose your battles. Just because every noun offers itself up for modification(s) doesn’t mean you should modify it. By serving some nouns plain, you give more distinction to those you embellish. Think of adjectives as ketchup or hot sauce; put it on everything and it quickly wears out its welcome."

"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 discussion board (American Copy Editors Society)
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)
Angry Grammarian, The (Jeffrey Barg, Philadelphia Inquirer). See, for example, 4 common phrases with racist origins that you should stop using right now (6-10-2020)
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)
Arrant Pedantry
Ask a Book Editor (Facebook group)
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
Blogs etc. for editors, copyeditors, proofreaders, and translators
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
The-conjugation.com (conjugating all the forms of English verbs -- in this case "sleepwalk." Also shows Spanish and French conjugations.
Copyediting-L A wonderful group for full discussions in response to queries such as whether it would be "“they must look into their heart” or "“they must look into their hearts” (a singular/plural question). The conclusion in this case: "heart" because each has only one.
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.
Copy Edit This! Quiz (excellent series of New York Times quizzes)
***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)
Englishforums.com (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)
Globe grammar quiz 2018: Are you smarter than one of our editors? (Sylvia Stead, Globe and Mail, 8-24-18) A challenging grammar quiz.
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 and Style Errors That Medium’s Copy Editors Really Don’t Want You to Make (Sloane Miller, Creators Hub, 12-2-2020) Common errors and copy editor pet peeves to avoid. The bits you can fix before you turn your ms. over to an editor.
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
• ***Grammarist. One of the most useful sites.
GrammarCheck Doesn't require registration, offers a free check, and is student favorite, reports one teacher.
Grammarly, subscription-based, "for finding and correcting more mistakes than your word processor." There will be a lot of "false positives," but it will catch some errors also. 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. Also: I’m Breaking Up With Grammarly (Nate Hoffelder, The Digital Reader, 5-4-17) "It has honestly caused more problems than it solved." and Grammarly Review 2020: Premium vs. Free (Daily Logo Challenge)
• **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)
Grammar Underground (June Casagrande)
Guide to Grammar and Style (Jack Lynch--very handy!)
harm·less drudg·ery *Kory Stamper, defining the words that define us)
Headsup: the blog (Thorts and comments about editing and the deskly arts)
Hit Parade of Errors in Style, Grammar, and Punctuation (University of Toronto Health Sciences Writing Centre)
How to Write the Perfect Sentence (Joe Moran, The Guardian, 9-21-18) Orwell advised cutting as many words as possible, Woolf found energy in verbs, and Baldwin aimed for ‘a sentence as clean as a bone’. What can we learn from celebrated authors about the art of writing well?
How to write with honesty in the plain style (Roy Peter Clark, Poynter, 7-22-21) It’s a middle ground between an ornate high style and a low style that gravitates toward slang. Write in it when you want your audience to comprehend.
Index of Banned Words, the continually updated edition (Carl Zimmer, Discover, on clichés 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). A favorite: The department of redundancy department (Geoffrey K. Pullum, 9-26-10), see comments about City of Jersey City.
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). "...house 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."
Lessons from 10 Years of Writing About Grammar ( Taylor Houston, Lit Reactor, 10-8-21) On gender-neutral pronouns, capitalizing Black and White, and other angles on language.
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 (yourdictionary.com)
100 most often mispronounced words and phrases in English (yourdictionary.com)
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 (Englishpage.com)
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.
PerfectIt Pro (Intelligent Editing). This MS Word add-in software for PCs quickly locates consistency mistakes, can learn your preferences and enforce your house style, especially helpful for legal editing. Many copyeditors swear by it.
• ***The Politics of the Plain (Hugh Kenner, NY Times, 9-15-85) "Plain style is a populist style. … Homely diction (common language) is its hallmark, also one-two-three syntax (subject, verb, object), the show of candor and the artifice of seeming to be grounded outside language in what is called fact — the domain where a condemned man can be observed as he silently avoids a puddle and your prose will report the observation and no one will doubt it."
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)
Quizzes on the Language Portal of Canada, including these Quizzes on grammar and syntax.
Resources for ESL students (students for whom English is a second language)
The Rise and Fall of the English Sentence (July Sedivy, Nautilus, 11-16-17) The Declaration of Independence Is Hard to Read. The surprising forces influencing the complexity of the language we speak and write. Sentences like the opening line of the Declaration of Independence simply do not occur in conversation....We utter the first syllables of a sentence while taking a leap of faith that we’ll be able to choose the right words en route....The unpredictable aspects of language, the things you just have to know, may be especially slippery for the adult mind.
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 grammar lessons (set to music and animation, mostly YouTube videos):
---Conjunction Junction (ABC)
---Schoolhouse Rock: Verbs
---Schoolhouse Rock: Unpack Your Adjectives
---Schoolhouse Rock: Prepositions
---Schoolhouse Rock: Lolly Lolly Lolly Get Your Adverbs Here
---SchoolHouse Rock: Grammar The Tale of Mr. Morton
---Schoolhouse Rock: Interjections

Schott's Vocab (Ben Schott's NY Times blog, a miscellany of lexicographical trifles, words and phrases from around the world that encapsulate the times in which we live or shed light on a story of note)
Self-study quizzes for students of ESL
Sentences first (An Irishman's blog about the English language)
Separated by a Common Language (Observations on British and American English by an America linguist in the UK)
7 grammar myths you learned in school (Oxford Dictionaries)
Shearson Editorial grammar posts
Slip-ups archive (errors in books, bloopers in movies and on tv)
Spellcheck (copy and paste your word or whole document to their website to check spelling)
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)
Throw Grammar from the Train )Notes from a recovering nitpicker)
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 Urduworld.com)
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)
UsingEnglish.com (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)
“Was” and “were” as past and subjunctive verb tenses (Catherine Traffis, Grammarly)
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) See, for example, Daphne Gray-Grant's Seven Sentences You Should Stop 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 clichés 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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Hyphenating compounds and other common usage problems

To Hyphenate or Not-to-Hyphenate (Pat McNees, a quiz-based survey of appropriate hyphenation, Grammar Corner)
Drop the Hyphen in Asian American (Henry Fuhrmann, Conscious Style Guide, 1-23-18) On the historical divisiveness of an unnecessary punctuation mark. See also Why I don’t hyphenate Chinese American (Eric Liu, CNN, 7-11-14).
The Most Expensive Hyphen in History: The Typo That Destroyed a NASA Rocket (Zachary Crockett, Priceonomics, Gizmodo, 6-27-14) NASA had high hopes that its Mariner rocket would successfully conduct a flyby survey of Venus, thus shifting the Space Race's momentum back to the home front. But ess than 5 minutes into flight, Mariner I exploded. The root cause for this disaster? A lone omitted hyphen, somewhere deep in hand-transcribed mathematical code. Purportedly, a programmer at NASA had left out the symbol while entering a "mass of coded information" into the computer system.
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
How to Use (or Not Use) a Hyphen (Mary Norris, New Yorker, 4-25-22) The magazine's noted "Comma Queen" muses about the persistence in its pages of the unpopular "teen-age."
July 22, 1962: Mariner 1 Done In by a Typo (Wired, July 2009) A "missing hyphen" in code forced mission control to abort the launch of the unmanned Mariner 1 probe less than five minutes after liftoff.
AP Stylebook Changes Hyphen Guidance, Ushering In Total Chaos (Kyle Koster, The Big Lead, 8-28-19) "We updated our hyphen guidance this year to say no hyphen is needed in a compound modifier if the modifier is commonly recognized as one phrase, and if the meaning is clear and unambiguous without the hyphen. One example is first quarter touchdown." 'Apparently, the long-standing practice of inserting a hyphen in a compound modifier was re-examined and deemed unnecessary if the modifier is “commonly recognized as one phrase, and if the meaning is clean and unambiguous without the hyphen.”' "So say goodbye to first-half run and hello to first half run." (That's for newspapers, not books. Still, it may foreshadow a trend.) See also AP sparks linguistic pandemonium with hyphen guidance update ( Merrill Perlman, CJR, 9-9-19) and AP hyphen outrage continues with guidance update (Merrill Perlman, CJR, 10-1-19) 'The apparent problem is that AP refuses to set down “rules.” As the stylebook says, using hyphens “can be a matter of taste, judgment and style sense.” ...“Rules” are easy to follow; “guidelines” require you to stick your neck out...AP indeed calls for using judgment.'
The difference between hyphen, en dash, and em dash Are you using hyphens for dashes in your manuscripts? Read this item from the Chicago Manual of Style.
An easy way to insert an n-dash or m-dash in Microsoft Word (Punctuation Matters)
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)
• 'The A.P. is dropping the hyphen in such terms as “African American,” “Asian American,” and “Filipino American.” Froke credited this change to the eloquence of Henry Fuhrmann, formerly the copy chief of the L.A. Times, who wrote, “Those hyphens serve to divide even as they are meant to connect. Their use in racial and ethnic identifiers can connote an otherness, a sense that people of color are somehow not full citizens or fully American.” ~Mary Norris in Dropped Hyphens, Split Infinitives, and Other Thrilling Developments from the 2019 American Copy Editors Society Conference (New Yorker, 4-2-19)
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!)
(Daily Writing Tips)
Log in, log-in, log off, log-off, etc. (Andy Hollandbeck, Copyediting, 2-15-17)
Hyphenating X-Year-Olds, Part 1: What the Experts Say (Erin Brenner, Copyediting, 7-20-15) and Part 2: What we actually do (7-20-15) "The recommended standard is to use the hyphens in the noun form: 24-year-olds. But if you forget or you just don’t like the look of it, you can get away with the completely open form: 24 year olds. Just don’t compromise and put only one hyphen in."
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).
• • National Geographic Style Guide, on color hyphenation: "The punctuation can influence the meaning: red, white, and blue flags (solid-colored flags), red-white-and-blue flags (tricolors). Do not hyphenate compound color modifiers unless both elements are colors of equal value: blue-black sky, gray-green eyes, but bluish black sky, lemon yellow dress, jade green lake, cobalt blue dish, dark blue suit.To avoid ambiguity, note: light-blue suit (color), light blue suit (weight)."
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 RIGHT (AND WRONG) WORDS — Confusables, Mixed-Up Homonyms and Homophones, Heteronyms, Word Pairs, and Other Errors in Diction

See also British vs. American English


"O" is an older spelling of "oh" which survives today mostly in poetry. The title of the Canadian national anthem is "O Canada," not "Oh Canada." Similarly, "America the Beautiful" begins "O beautiful for spacious skies." When not addressing some entity poetically, "oh" is fine.~ Paul Brians, Common Errors in Usage


"If you bite it and you die, it's poisonous.

If it bites you and you die, it's venomous"


"Languages certainly do follow rules, but they don't follow orders.

       ~ @PeterSokolowski

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). See Thematic index of affixes (for different categories of thought or study--just check it out!)
Antagonyms (a single word that has meanings that contradict each other). Sometimes called contronyms.
Autoantonyms and Contronyms (Fun with Words), the latter also known as Antagonyms (Ellis, words that contradict themselves)
Heteronyms: The complete list (English for Students) See also How I wound up with a wound from heteronyms (John Ficarra, Opinion, Washington Post, 5-10-21)
Commonly Misspelled Words: Working with Homophones (Sean Glatch, Writers.com) Homophones are two words which sound similar but have different meanings. For example, Accept versus except, affect versus effect, allowed versus aloud, bear versus bare, brake versus break, capital versus capitol, complementary versus complimentary, its versus it’s, tortuous versus Torturous, weather versus whether.
• • • 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.)


And in alphabetical order:
A List of Commonly Confused Words (Merriam-Webster)
A.Word.A.Day with Anu Garg (with pronunciation!) Check out the Archive
Banished words list (clichés banished for misuse, overuse, and general uselessness)
British Isles naming dispute(s) (Wikipedia)
• Boston.com word columnists Jan Freeman and Erin McKean
Chernobyl vs. Chornobyl: Why the different spellings? (CTV News) Chernobyl is the Russian spelling; Chornobyl, Ukrainian. It's in Ukraine. The Canadian Press made the switch to Ukrainian spellings in the 1990s, but not every news agency followed suit. The Associated Press and Reuters, for example, still use the Russian spelling, Chernobyl. Similarly Kyiv (Ukrainian) vs. Kiev (Russian). Ukrainians and Russians pronounce them differently. I'd say go with the Ukrainian version.
Commonly confused words (AskOxford.com)
Commonly confused words (Oxford Dictionaries)
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' '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.
The Eggcorn Database (born out of Language Log), an evidence-based collection of misused words that stem from a mis-hearing but still manage to make sense, such as eggcorn for acorn, and "tough road to hoe."

Fewer vs. less. ""Fewer is typically used with things you can count, but weights and distances are exceptions," she said. "Less" is used in references to mass nouns like sugar, flour or dirt.
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.Ellen Jovin hosts a NYC Grammar Table (NY Times, 11-20-18)
50 of Your Favourite Words (for sesquipedalians) (BBC Magazine)
Fun with Words
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)
Grammatically Speaking: Have You Got a Grasp of Grammar?. Handy grammar quiz hosted by Staples. Great promotion idea.
Gun Grammar ( John Rains, ACES)

Highlighting confusables with CompareWordList (Louise Harnby on using proofreading macros, on The Editing Blog, 1-22-16)
Homonyms, homophones, and homographs. Alan Cooper's Homonym List (except those are really "homophones"). See also About.com'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
Like, You know, and other annoying filler words (Anatoly Liberman, OUP blog, 7-19-23) Language history and we: the case of “like”


Malapropisms. See Some Amusing Malapropisms (fun with words) and Examples of Malapropism (Your Dictionary). See also sites listing mondegreens (mishearings of a popular phrase or song lyric) and eggcorns (for acorns).
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? (Merrill Perlman, Language Corner, Columbia Journalism Review, 8-15-11) Excellent guidelines for choosing between commonly confused options: 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 (Grammarbook.com, 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!
Ten Words You Need to Stop Misspelling (an Oatmeal diagram)
That v. which: a grammatical throwdown. (Philip Hensher, LitHub, 6-25-19) Food for thought.
Top 30 Commonly Confused Words in English(Brittney Ross, Grammarly)
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.
20 Commonly Confused Word Pairs (ThoughtCo)
24 Things You’ve Been Saying Wrong This Whole Time (Claire Nowak and George Miatta, Reader's Digest) Brother-in-laws, beg the question, wary vs. weary, etc.
Use the (Right, Rite, Wright, Write) Word (Pat McNees, Grammar Corner). 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)
Who or Whom? (Nancy Tuten, Get It Write, 6-6-19) Who is the pitcher and whom is the catcher.
The Word Detective (Evan Morris answers readers' questions about words and language)
Word Lady (Katherine Barber's site, here with words commonly mispronounced).
Word Traps
Word Trippers by Barbara McNichol (2nd edition, Kindle). Some word pairs on her blog (in "word tripper" category)
WordReference forums (translation)
Wordsmith.org (the magic of words)
World Wide Words Michael Quinian's great entries on words and phrases in international English, indexed here in alphabetical order. Linger on such features as amusing verse illustrating that English is difficult and WWW's e-newsletter, featuring words in the news, weird words, new(ish) words, old words, words people ask questions about, and even the occasional grovelling correction.
Writing about Immigration From the AP Stylebook. (Andy Hollandbeck,Copyediting, 6-6-18) Dream Act vs. DACA; immigrants, migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees; avoid "chain migration."
The Wrong Word Dictionary: 2,000 Most Commonly Confused Words by Dave Dowling
Writing Tools, the musical (Roy Peter Clark, Poynter)


You call that irony? (Jon Winokur, Los Angeles Times, 2-11-07) Sacha Baron Cohen gets it; Alanis Morissette doesn't.

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"No matter what we're editing, the goal should be minimal changes for maximum results. Prefer the scalpel to the hatchet whenever possible." ~Erin Brenner, Copyediting

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)

Chicago Style Q&As (browse by category). See also Chicago Style New Q&As

Chicago Style Workouts

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)

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)

Times Insider Behind-the-scenes insights into how news, features and opinion come together at The New York Times. See, for example, Because of an Editing Error (1-3-2021) "The Times has strict policies on corrections: If it’s wrong, even if just for a few minutes online or in one edition of the print newspaper, it is supposed to get a correction....Times corrections are "are wonderfully nuanced cultural explorations. When we misidentified the name of Bilbo Baggins’s sword in 'The Hobbit' as Orcrist the Goblin Cleaver, it was both the greatest and the nerdiest correction of all time. (Real nerds also noted that Bilbo Baggins, being a Hobbit, didn’t carry a “sword” but a “dagger.” Its name was Sting.)"

Twitter lists for editors (KOK Edit). Save time and sign up to follow the tweeters on Katharine O'Moore-Klopf's lists of good Twitter feeds. By category: Health and medicine, news media, science resources, scientists, freelancing resources, and edit-Long-Islanders.

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

Schemes and Tropes: Two fairly narrow resources: Wikipedia on two "figures of speech" (rhetoric?) most of us are probably unaware of:Schemes and Tropes

To Hyphenate or Not-to-Hyphenate (Pat McNees) (160 KB)

Test your hyphen IQ. Badly done hyphens indicate amateur publishing. Are you hyphen-savvy?

Use the (Right, Rite, Wright, Write) Word (by Pat McNees) (110 KB)

Spellcheckers reveal many errors, but they fail to detect wrong words that sound almost right. Circle the incorrect words. (Grammar Corner, APH newsletter)

That, Which, and Commas (Pat McNees, APH column) (634 KB)

Test yourself on setting off restrictive (defining) or nonrestrictive clauses


Special, interesting, and funny bits

"Changing the world one apostrophe at a time." ~ Gary D. Shapiro


"The next grammar book I bring out I want to tell how to end a sentence with five prepositions. A father of a little boy goes upstairs after supper to read to his son, but he brings the wrong book. The boy says, 'What did you bring that book that I don't want to be read to out of up for?' "

         ~E. B. White, Letter to J. G. Case, 30th March 1962 (H/T Paula Stahel)

I Write Like (Coding Robots) Check which famous writer you write like with this statistical analysis tool, which analyzes your word choice and writing style and compares them with those of the famous writers.
Grammar Purity is One Big Ponzi Scheme (June Casagrande, LitHub, 7-26-18: Note that they failed to capitalize "is," thereby contributing to grammar impurity.) Who Really Decides How Language Works?
Tom Gauld's literary collective cartoons (The Guardian). "A chapter of novelists, a draft of editors, a recommendation of booksellers, a borrowing of librarians," etc.
Google Ngram Viewer (addictive). Type in a word or phrase and out pops a chart tracking its popularity in books. Want to spend/waste more time? See Culturomics or follow Words on the Brink on Twitter (Cultural Observatory at Harvard). See What does the Ngram Viewer do?
Words to sprinkle, camouflage and befuddle: Idle musings on the slipperiness of language (Oxfam blog) Amusing and oh so true. (H/T Dee Rubin)
Times Newer Roman Helps You Fudge Your Page Count for School Assignments (Sarah Rose Sharp, Hyperallergic, 9-30-18) Now lazy college students can meet their page counts a lot more easily.
'Grammar vigilante' changes incorrect business signs across Bristol under cover of darkness (Benjamin Kentish, Independent UK, 4-3-17) Mystery man has been helping grocers with their apostrophes since 2003. He made an eight-foot-long tool he calls an “apostrophiser.” ‘Open Monday’s to Friday’s’ and Amy’s Nail’s and Cambridge Motor’s needed editing.
• “There is a satisfactory boniness about grammar which the flesh of sheer vocabulary requires before it can become a vertebrate and walk the earth.” ~Anthony Burgess
• " The road to hell is paved with adverbs." ~ Stephen King
Dante’s Nine Circles of Hell, Reimagined for Linguistic Transgressions (John Rauschenberg, McSweeney's, 11-20-17)
What Happens in Vagueness Stays in Vagueness (Clark Whelton, City Journal, Winter 2011) "Can I, like, pick you up?" Starting in about 1985 this use of "like" started invading the language. "All her answers sounded like questions. Several other students did the same thing, ending declarative sentences with an interrogative rise. Something odd was happening. Was it guerrilla grammar?"
Headline fail: Kansas students get 'first hand job experience' (Boing Boing, 10-31-17)
33 Hilarious Headline Fails That Make The News Worth Reading (Mike Dikk, Runt of the Web, 12-17-15) Google "headline fail" and you'll get plenty more examples.
Proofreader and editor tee shirts (Red Bubble). E.g., "Apostrophes do not make nouns plural."
• "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity [ignorance, incompetence]." -- adage known as Hanlon's Razor
The very model of an amateur grammarian (Tom Freeman, The Stroppy Editor, with apologies to Gilbert & Sullivan). Apropos grammarians, you may enjoy Lisa McLendon's Fussbudgets and Freewheelers blog post.
• Joke for editors: The past, the present and the future walked into a bar. It was tense.
How to Write a (Good) Sentence. Adam Haslett on Stanley Fish (Slate, from Financial Times, 1-23-11), on whether in following Strunk & White's injunction to write succinctly we haven't lost something.
Goodbye, cruel words: English. It's dead to me. (Gene Weingarten, Washington Post, 9-19-10)
• "In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock."
~ Thomas Jefferson
•"When you catch an adjective, kill it. No, I don't mean utterly, but kill most of them--then the rest will be valuable. They weaken when they are close together. They give strength when they are wide apart. An adjective habit, or a wordy, diffuse, flowery habit, once fastened upon a person, is as hard to get rid of as any other vice."
~ Mark Twain, Letter to D. W. Bowser, 3/20/1880, on a fabulous site, Mark Twain quotations
The Great Typo Hunt: Two Friends Changing the World, One Correction at a Time by Jeff Deck and Benjamin D. Herson
Education Fails (signs with grammar errors, Huffington Post slideshow)
WGN radio's banned 119 news clichés in Chicago and Ian Chillag's piece In Which I Try To Use All Of WGN's Newly Banned Words In One Sentence (NPR).
The Cliché Expert Testifies on the Campaign (Frank Sullivan, New Yorker, 9-13-1952)

Most Frequently Looked-Up Words on NYTimes.com, 2009 and what Zachary M. Seward has to say about that list on
Nieman Journalism Lab
The Maven, Nevermore (Ben Zimmer's tribute to the late William Safire and his language column in the New York Times). Here's Safire's How to Read a Column
• "You write to communicate to the hearts and minds of others what's burning inside you. And we edit to let the fire show through the smoke." ~ Arthur Plotkin, author of The Elements of Editing
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. To quote from that: "The AAAA has two simple goals. Its first is to round up and confiscate superfluous apostrophes from, for example, fruit and vegetable stalls where potato's, tomatoe's and apple's are openly on sale.
"Its second is to redistribute as many as possible of these impounded apostrophes, restoring missing apostrophes where they have been lost, mislaid or deliberately hijacked - as for instance by British Rail, which as part of its refurbishment programme is dismantling the apostrophes from such stations as King's Cross and shunting them off at dead of night to a secret apostrophe siding at Crewe."
Which words make you wince? Michelle Pauli asks poets for their most hated words, in the Guardian. Which are yours? Read the comments!\
Idioms drawn by kids
Man Kills Self Before Shooting Wife and Daughter and other headlines to make you smile or wince (favorites: Man Struck By Lightning: Faces Battery Charge. Red Tape Holds Up New Bridges. Typhoon Rips Through Cemetery; Hundreds Dead. Hospitals are Sued by 7 Foot Doctors. Local High School Dropouts Cut in Half)
Abandon "hopefully"?
"Abandon hopefully all ye who enter here."
The Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar (a blog)
"The I's Have It" (Patricia T. O'Conner and Stewart Kellerman, on the Op Ed page of the Times, advising then-President Obama to stop saying things like “a very personal decision for Michelle and I”)
Using English as a Second Language (excellent resource)
"Indian" or "Native American"? '...most of the time we use the term "Native American" to describe the first inhabitants of this continent. Sometimes, however, we use the term "Indian. " While most scholars prefer to use Native American most of the time, sometimes the term "Indian" is more appropriate. Native Americans sometimes use the term "Indian" or "American Indian" to describe themselves. We often use terms like "Indian schools" or "Indian officials" for two reasons: one, because that is the language people at the time used, both Native Americans and whites, and two, these things are also often proper names or titles, as in the case of "Holy Childhood Indian School" or the "Bureau of Indian Affairs." ' ~From the useful website Native Americans
A Way with Words (public radio's lively show about the English language, with Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett)
The Passivator, a passive verb and adverb flagger
• "Word has somehow got around that the split infinitive is always wrong. That is of a piece with the outworn notion that it is always wrong to strike a lady." ~ James Thurber
• HOMOPHONES are words that sound the same but are spelled differently (e.g., "steal, steel"). HOMONYMS are words that sound and are spelled the same, but have different meanings (e.g., "right" as correct and "right" as opposite of left).

"During the Middle Ages, everybody was middle aged. Church and state were co-operatic. Middle Evil society was made up of monks, lords, and surfs." That's an excerpt from Anders Henriksson's delightful piece in Wilson Quarterly:A History of the Past: 'Life Reeked With Joy', which the editors describe thus:
Possibly as an act of vengeance, a history professor--compiling, verbatim, several decades' worth of freshman papers--offers some of his students’ more striking insights into European history from the Middle Ages to the present.
• Those who are irked by spelling errors as well as those who can't spell should be interested in Everybody Wants to Be a Spelling Cop, a blog about a talk about the changing nature of language given by David Wolman, author of Righting the Mother Tongue: From Olde English to Email, the Tangled History of English Spelling at the CASE conference.
• "I do hope you realize that every time you use disinterested to mean uninterested, an angel dies, and every time you write very unique, or 'We will hire whomever is more qualified,' thousands of literate people lose yet another little smidgen of hope. And please promise me you will never lose your grip on the subjunctive to the extent that someone did in this sentence from USA Today: 'If Ramirez stayed in Cleveland, the Indians may not be seven victories shy of their first World Series title since 1948.' "
~ From Alphabet Juice by Roy Blount, Jr. (You can read the first chapter here, thanks to the New York Times First Pages series. Thanks to Wendalyn Nichols of Copyediting for this lead and for this link to a conversation with Blount on A Way With Words.
The Anatomy of a Tweet: Twitter Gets a Style Guide (Jenna Wortham, Bits blog, NY Times 2-13-09)
Who checks the Spellcheckers? (Slate's Chris Wilson on how to fix Microsoft Word's dictionary)
We Stand Corrected: When Good Journalists Make Stupid Mistakes (Chip Scanlan, Poynter, 12-12-07)
Owed to a Spell Checker and other grammar humor (Favoriteforwards.tripod.com)

λ♥[love] (Linguistics Love Song)
In Defense of Cursive (Judith Thurman, New Yorker, 7-5-12). Where handwriting, capitalization, and politics meet.\
λ♥[love] (Linguistics Love Song)

"Grammar is a piano I play by ear." ~ Joan Didion

"English usage is sometimes more than mere taste, judgment, and education — sometimes it's sheer luck, like getting across a street." ~ E.B. White

"Everything bows to success, even grammar." ~ Victor Hugo


"Americans have such a curiously un-English way of being strictly consistent and logical in their doings."~ Grant Allen (1890)

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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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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If You Can Raed Tihs, You Msut Be Raelly Smrat (Snopes.com)
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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