Whether you are new to editing or have been an editor for the NYT for ages, everyone needs a good tip now and then. Editors love language and learning, and they want to improve their skills and knowledge. You can use these ten free, online resources to help you out today!
1. The Chicago Manual of Style
Most editors have this chunky, orange beauty on their desk or in their library. But did you know that you use The Chicago Manual of Style online? Looking up answers to your burning questions about hyphens has never been easier. Plus, you don’t have to carry your big, ol’ textbook around anymore. The 15th and 16th editions are available here, but you will need to subscribe. When I was in college, I was able to use it for free through my library. Depending on your project or whom you are working with, you may be able to get a free option, too.
2. Guide to Grammar and Writing
Are you copyediting or working on substantive editing? Whatever project you’re working on, the Guide to Grammar and Writing will help you. This website, dedicated to Dr. Charles Darling, may look like it just walked out of the ’90s. But the great thing about it is the organization. There are sections for the following: “Word & Sentence Level,” “Paragraph Level,” “Essay & Research Paper Level,” etc. It’s the perfect resource for questions about punctuation and so much more.
3. Google Books
Google Books are great for editors, especially if you are looking for various editions. For example, you can google Paradise Lost and find multiple editions for different years and publications.
The name for onelook.com is very apropos. All you have to do is search a term, and this website will look up all the dictionaries and references where the word appears online. For the word between, 40 dictionaries with English definitions were pulled up in one spot. It also organizes the discovered items by general, science, slang, and miscellaneous.
5. Urban Dictionary
Slang comes and goes quickly. Urban Dictionary is helpful because even though anyone can write a definition, visitors vote on the best definition for a given term. Consequently, Urban Dictionary has the most up-to-date sayings.
6. The Elements of Style
On bartleby.com, you can use The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. online for free. This book focuses on the rules of usage and elementary principles of composition. There are sections for commonly misspelled words as well as words and expressions commonly misused.
Mary Beth Protomastro, former editor of the Time magazine stylebook, owns and maintains this website. She created this site to help copyeditors consult a variety of style guides in one place. You can search by alphabetical order or by subject.
8. Jack Lynch’s Guide to Grammar and Style
Jack Lynch’s Guide to Grammar and Style is a great online resource. You can search contents for specific questions, or you can search by an alphabetical index. Additionally, there’s a search engine can look up specific words.
9. The Literary Encyclopedia
Do you need help with editing scholarly English? This site is a great option. Chapters include punctuation, problems with verbs, lexicon (vocabulary), and style conventions for scholarly essays and research papers.
10. Assignment Editor
Need a plagiarism checker? Assignment Editor has a plagiarism checker tool that uses Google to check articles. Additionally, it is a good tool to check SEO (search engine optimization), which allows you to check duplicate content as well as the originality of your content.