7 Great Websites for Writers

By Mark Nichol

From usual suspects to obscure gems, from grammar guides to usage resources, here are some websites of great value to writers:

1. Amazon.com
You may have heard of this website — a good place, I understand, to find books (or anything else manufactured). But what I appreciate even more is the “Search inside this book” link under the image of the book cover on most pages in the Books section.

No longer does one need to own a book or go to a bookstore or a library to thumb through it in search of that name or bon mot or expression you can’t quite remember. And even if you do have access to the book in question, it’s easier to search online (assuming you have a keyword in mind that’s proximal in location or locution to your evasive prey) than to try to remember on what part of what page in what part of the book you remember seeing something last week or last month or years ago.

And then, of course, there are the site’s “Frequently Bought Together” and “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” features — but the book search can be a writer’s salvation.

2. Banned for Life
Newspaper editor Tom Mangan’s site lists reader contributions of clichés and redundancies.

3. The Chicago Manual of Style Online
My review on this site of The Chicago Manual of Style notes that buying the bulky book, despite its abundance of useful information, is overkill for writers (but not editors), but editorial professionals of all kinds will benefit from the CMOS website’s Style Q&A feature, which responds authoritatively, sensibly, and often humorously to visitors’ queries.

4. GrammarBook.com
The late Jane Straus, author of The Blue Book on Grammar and Punctuation, created this site to promote her book, but it also features many simple grammar lessons (with quizzes), as well as video lessons, an e-newsletter, and blog entries that discuss various grammar topics.

5. The Phrase Finder
A useful key to proverbs, phrases from the Bible and Shakespeare, nautical expressions, and American idiom (the site originates in the United Kingdom), plus a feature called “Famous Last Words” and, for about $50 a year, subscription to a phrase thesaurus. (Subscribers include many well-known media companies and other businesses as well as universities.)

6. The Vocabula Review
The Principal Web Destination for Anyone Interested in Words and Language
Essays about language and usage; $25 per year by email, $35 for the print version.

7. The Word Detective
Words and Language in a Humorous Vein on the Web Since 1995
This online version of Evan Morris’s newspaper column of the same name (some were also published in the book The Word Detective) features humorous Q&A entries about word origins.

Click here to get access to 800+ interactive grammar exercises!


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7 Responses to “7 Great Websites for Writers”

  • Rezone

    Another website one should check would be Purdue OWL when it comes to addressing APA style ect.

  • Naomi Hamm

    I read a ways back in a writers magazine that a writer had spoken of she or he disliked the usuage of theosauroses. I probably misspelled that so sorry I am in such a hurry as to not look the correct spelling of that word.
    And yet I wondered why this writer felt that way and still do. But do allow me to add these are great tools to use when we are stuck and in need. Maybesome of you may have your own ideas of why not to use such a book for resources.

  • Rezone

    @Hamm
    Depends which book you read, certain authors/books encourage people to rely on the thesaurus, some dont mention anything. In the book, “100 ways to improve your writing” by Gary Provost, thesaurus means treasure; the thesaurus you buy will be a treasury of synonyms, words that are close in meaning to the one you want. It is the book that will lead you to perfect word you know is loitering on the outskirts of your brain.” The author goes on describing some of the benefits of using these accessible vocabulary.

    On the other hand, the author of “The Writing Well” provides a different view, or an alternate view when it comes to using a thesaurus.

  • Lena

    Have always loved the word detective!
    I didn’t know Amazon could be accessed that way, thanks for the article!

  • William S Stokes

    See “other” block in the surveyu I responded to above !!

  • Myron

    I have to say that for “writers” who contribute to these discussions their spelling is atrocious especially when there is a spell checker. Ar these people taking the piss?

  • Steve Fortosis

    Mark has compiled some excellent resources in this article. All serious writers should have a shelf of invaluable books such as these for writers. It is amazing to me how many people have manuscripts buried in closets or drawers. They were excited about them once and dreamed of publishing them, but the dream died because they didn’t have the nerve to send the manuscript out, they got a few rejections, or it wasn’t quite up to par. Self publishing is no longer vanity publishing and it is more and more often considered legit. I edit or ghostwrite your content for publication and I’ve been doing it for a number of years. My site is Editing Factory dot org.

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