There are numerous resources available for writers, editors, and everyday people who write. While many of these resources will provide you with reliable guidance, there are certain ones that are considered “standards” in the publishing industry. The following resources are the ones I use most frequently during my editing process, and they would be helpful additions to any writer’s library.
· A good dictionary. There are a number of good dictionaries available at this time. The dictionary I normally use is Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. Merriam-Webster’s is a trustworthy resource that is well respected in the publishing industry. Other dictionaries that are dependable include The American Heritage College Dictionary, New Oxford American Dictionary, and Random House Webster’s Dictionary. Since the English language is constantly changing, make sure you have the most recent edition of your dictionary of choice.
· A good thesaurus. As with dictionaries, there are a number of good thesauruses available. Roget’s International Thesaurus is widely considered the industry standard. Others include Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Thesaurus and The American Heritage College Thesaurus.
· The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White. This diminutive book could be considered a writer’s bible. I would classify this book as a must-have for anyone who writes. Besides a quality dictionary and dependable thesaurus, The Elements of Style is the most useful resource a writer can own. You’ll gain a solid understanding of grammar and style issues if you regularly consult this guide.
· The Chicago Manual of Style. Nearly every book dealing with grammar or writing style acknowledges that The Chicago Manual of Style is the authoritative reference for the publishing industry. The CMS is a bit pricey, however, and if you use an editor, you probably don’t need to own a copy. But if you want to know the nitty-gritty details about almost every issue related to writing, this book is an invaluable resource.
· Garner’s Modern American Usage. This guide is a treasure trove of information for those who want to gain a deeper understanding of modern American usage. Bryan A. Garner was a contributor to the most recent edition of The Chicago Manual of Style, and his prescriptions for modern usage are valuable to any writer.
These recommendations are not exhaustive, but if you’re serious about your writing, these resources would serve you well. All of them are well respected in the publishing industry. Whether you’re self-publishing, trying to land a deal with a traditional publisher, or just wanting to add to your writing toolbox, these references are valuable tools to have at your disposal.