Enter for Near-Instant Results
Even the best available reference materials are only as good as a user’s ability to find the pertinent information within. Most careful readers and all careful editors know the value of a good table of contents and index. My respect for good book indexers is almost as deep as the stack of reference books I own (and use often). However, when I consider the types of resources that have significantly increased my editing efficiency, none come to mind more quickly than online reference materials with good search functions.
Keep a few reference tabs open in your browser, and answers to your spelling, style, and usage questions arrive as quickly as you can type and hit enter. The tabs I always have open contain the following online subscriptions:
Merriam-Webster: A suite of resources that includes Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged; Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition; Collegiate Thesaurus; Collegiate Encyclopedia; Medical Dictionary; Spanish-English Dictionary; French-English Dictionary; Atlas; and Style Guide.
The Chicago Manual of Style Online: Easy access to either the 15th or 16th edition. Additional tools include correspondence samples; an XML workflow diagram; a citation quick guide; customizable notes, bookmarks, and style sheets; a Q&A section; and a discussion forum. The search function returns results from the style manual, the Q&A section, custom notes and style sheets, and the user forum.
Associated Press Stylebook Online: A searchable style guide that is updated in real time, sends email alerts, and allows annotations. Advanced search options can narrow results to the stylebook, the pronunciation guide, an organization’s custom stylebook or notes, or a user’s custom stylebook or notes.
Which online subscriptions have you found useful?
Image courtesy of Purple Penning.