No-one knows it all, and as a writer I use several sources of research for my articles and ebooks. Aside from the resources I use to research particular topics, there are also several essential books I need related to the craft of writing. Here are the books on my bookshelf which I couldn’t do without.
My top pick for this is the Collins English Dictionary. It’s an easy to read, clear format. I used to use the Oxford English Dictionary. I switched to the Collins because I was already using their French and Spanish dictionaries, so when it was time to update, it seemed a good idea to complete the set. Another good option (especially if you’re American) is the Merriam Webster Dictionary. I sometimes use the online version of MW if I need to check something when I’m not at my desk.
Many people rave about Roget’s Thesaurus. I find that hard to use, so my favorite is the Merriam-Webster thesaurus. That’s because it is easy to find the words for which I want to find synonyms. Again, MW online is a good option when on the move.
Every now and then you need to use a word, punctuation mark or expression, and you’re not quite sure how to use it correctly. When this happens, I have two main sources. I’ve been using the Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors since I started in journalism, and it’s never let me down. For a more fun approach to usage, there’s also a more recent book by R L Trask called Mind The Gaffe. Published by Penguin, it’s a guide to some common errors in English.
Finally, although I don’t use it every day, I also keep a copy of the Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology handy. It’s always useful to be able to find the origin of a word or expression. Just call me a word nerd. 🙂