The Online World of Grammar and Usage: Reliable Online Editorial Resources
Although you’re unlikely to find many writers or editors willing to give up the hard copies of their dictionaries or style and usage guides, working as a writer or editor in the 21st century has its perks: the list of reliable online editorial resources gets longer every year. Here’s a great listing to get you started.
Online Style Guides
Online bastions of editorial integrity include well-known editorial authorities such as the Chicago Manual of Style Online, which allows users access to a variety of versions of the venerated guide. Having access to these online guides is helpful in case your publisher or professor has specific style tastes.
CMoS Online’s citation quick guide is a great resource for quick reminders about formatting, and the searchable guide makes finding the information you need even easier than it would be if you had your hard copy with you.
Most widely used style guides offer similar online versions of their well-respected texts. Performing a quick Google search will reveal online homes to The Canadian Press Stylebook, the APA’s Publication Manual, and a variety of others.
Some writers and editors actually prefer the online versions of these bookshelf standards because of the additional content they provide subscribers access to. Discussion boards provide online spaces in which editorial students and professionals can discuss their work and keep themselves apprised of interesting editorial information.
Many editorial blogs provide entertaining and easy answers to editorial questions. Unlike the relatively dry reading that online style guides often provide, editorial blogs allow readers an opportunity to enjoy themselves while they learn.
Grammar Girl has proven herself an online institution over the years. Consistently well-written and entertainingly presented, Mignon Fogarty presents answers to a variety of grammar conundrums in a succinct way that both laypeople and experts appreciate. Rather than focusing only on complex issues, Fogarty often writes about common grammar misconceptions, like she did in a recent post on run-on sentences.
Although potentially not the most obviously useful blog on editorial matters, the Evil Editor is great for sharing a frustrated chuckle with your editorial peers. This blog features egregious errors perpetrated by would-be novelists seeking publication. More than simply copied sections of inadequate writers’ manuscripts, though, the Evil Editor also provides editorial comments and suggestions to his (her?) hapless victims.
The application that helps catch your spelling and grammar errors while you write also provides a great grammar blog. Even though the idea might seem to work against their business model, Grammarly provides excellent resources, like a recent article on the importance of concision.
Reddit can be a difficult platform to engage with, but its search function allows curious grammar fans to cut through the noise so that they can get right to the topic they’re looking for. Although some posts in r/grammar are from laypeople looking for answers to grammar questions, many of the topics covered are advanced.
Whether basic or advanced, though, the answers that respondents give to these questions are educational and entertaining in equal measure. Check out this discussion on determining the case, i.e. subjective/objective/dative, in a hypothetical construction
EnglishGrammar.org may not be as flashy as Grammarly or as entertaining as the Evil Editor, but what it lacks in pizzazz it makes up for in content and ease of use. If you’re looking for a handy resource to keep on your desktop, EnglishGrammar.org offers visitors a free guide of 120 grammar and vocabulary mistakes to avoid.
Though it’s always helpful to have another guide, my favourite feature of EnglishGrammar.org is its topic margin, which allows visitors to click on the feature of the English language that’s giving them difficulty and then read all about it.
The Editing Company Blog
A bit of self-promotion never hurt anyone, so take some time to read some other posts from The Editing Company’s blog. Similar to EnglishGrammar.org, article topics provide easy reference to the curious grammar maven. The “Writing” section is chock full of useful grammar tips, but don’t shy away from the “Editing New Media” or “Usage” sections, both similarly full of great information.
Michael Bedford is a freelance editor, copywriter, and performer living in Mount Hope, Ontario. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.