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Online Editorial Resources

October 7, 2013

Photo Credit: thishumanepic via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: thishumanepic via Compfight cc

We don’t have to live with questions in our lives anymore–we’ve got Google, and it can answer anything.  But you can’t always be sure the advice you get online is valid.

When writers are looking for just the right word or advice on matters of style, here are some authoritative websites that can be trusted to help. Unless otherwise noted, all of them are free.

All writers need to consult a dictionary. You can look up definitions, synonyms, antonyms, parts of speech and hear pronunciations at Merriam Webster online.

On  synonyms and antonyms are clickable so you can take your word search deeper and deeper.

If you want to consult multiple dictionaries at once or perform unusual word searches like find words and phrases that start with “blue,” try  OneLook.

Wondering what  the letters in NASA stand for?  Find definitions for acronyms, abbreviations, and initialismsat the Acronym Finder.

The AP StyleBook is an A-Z guide to usage, spelling and punctuation, the standard style guide for newspapers and magazines. Online subscriptions are $26/year.

To consult the standard style guide for publishing—a comprehensive reference for matters of manuscript preparation, the publishing process, style, and usage go to Chicago Manual of Style.  It’s  $35/year for an online subscription.


Want to avoid making surface errors in your writing?  Confused about commas? (You know you are.)  Check Purdue Online Writing Lab for short and clear grammar and punctuation  lessons for those who need to beef up their basic skills.

If you want to use current slang properly in your writing, check user-contributed definitions and their site-visitor endorsements at the Urban Dictionary.  Beware, ye faint of heart. Even the most open-minded among us will may find something that offends them there.

When you know what something looks like, but you don’t know or can’t remember the proper word for it  and “thingamabob” won’t do,  use the Visual Dictionary Online.

What online resources do you use to  help you find the right words?

Mary Ann de Stefano is the editor of The Florida Writer, the official magazine of the Florida Writers Association. She is also a writer, editor, and organizer of writing workshops with 30 years of experience in publishing and writing consulting. Besides working one-on-one with writers who are developing books, she builds websites  and organizes writing workshops. Mary Ann does business at MAD about Words, named as a play on her initials and love for writing.

One Comment
  1. October 8, 2013 12:03 am

    Some great stuff here .What you say about the Urban Dictionary is true…it can be downright offensive, but it is also very useful. I also can’t wait to try out OneLook. It definitely looks cool.

    Another great online resource that I love to use is the Power Thesaurus. I find that it has more words than the other ones, sometimes conveying more nuance.

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