My digital reference shelf

Pile of books

By Jhodson (Own work) CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), via Wikimedia Commons

When I was in college — this was back in the Dark Ages, before the Internet — my desk had several reference books I would turn to in times of need. Not surprisingly, I had a dictionary and thesaurus, as well as a worn copy of Strunk & White’s Elements of Style. At one point, I also had a Latin dictionary so I could pepper my scholarly papers with pretentious-sounding phrases.

These days, the Web offers writers a number of reference tools for writing and blogging. Of course, Google and Wikipedia are my go-to jumping-off points when searching for information.

I keep several bookmarked for repeated use. Depending on your needs, some of these tools may appeal to you.

  • Merriam-Webster Dictionary and Thesaurus — Merriam-Webster is my go-to source for double-checking my spelling and word choices.
  • OneLook Dictionary — This online dictionary has some added tools. You can search using wildcards (great for finding words that rhyme) or use the reverse lookup using a definition to find a word.
  • Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips — Not a reference book, per se, but a great site for solving arguments about grammar and style. While I don’t always agree with her conclusions, nine out of 10 times, she is able to give a definitive answer to those annoying little grammar rules (like when to use “lay” vs “lie”).
  • AP Stylebook Online — If you need a good style manual, I recommend Associated Press. The online version is constantly updated, so it’s worth getting a subscription.
  • Wikimedia Commons — If you’re looking for media (images, video, sounds) that you can use without paying for them, check out this source. Wikimedia Commons includes royalty-free and public domain media.

Of course, the best thing about the Internet is a never-ending supply of inspiration. From news to history to discussion threads (like this one about “glitch in the Matrix” stories),┬áthere is no shortage of great ideas to jumpstart a writer’s creativity.

Kevin Wohler is a copywriter and novelist living in Lawrence, Kansas. During the day, he works at a digital marketing agency in the Kansas City area. When time remains, he likes to tell stories of the weird and bizarre. And sometimes, he writes them down for others to read.

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