Many an ad, business letter and TV commercial comes into being slowly, even painfully. Maybe because some of us write as if we were still using an IBM Selectric, wite-out and a badly worn Webster's. For that matter, maybe some still are. And that's OK.
But in these digital days, software and Internet can help a tech-savvy writer be a better writer and make getting job done easier. While writing every day is still best practice for improving your writing skills, there are programs and Web sites available today that can really help your writing along.
Here are 18 digital tools you can use to research, brainstorm, organize, compose, communicate and bring out better writer in you.
Wordsmithing Grammar and Style
Cliché Finder. You've always been told to "avoid clichés like plague." But sometimes there's no other way to write or talk your way out of a sticky situation. This site lets you search for just right cliché, by entries that include a specific word. | www.westegg.com/cliche |
Common Errors in English. This is a useful list of words often misused. Plus an interesting list of usages people keep telling you are wrong but which are actually standard in English. Links to other grammar resources as well. | www.wsu.edu/%7Ebrians/errors/errors.html |
Dictionary of Difficult Words. Do you aim to become a member of literati, or do you wish to be a savant? Do you want to avoid being verbigerative and be succinct instead? Search this list of over 13,900 difficult words to increase your vocabulary or just find out what those words really mean. | www.tiscali.co.uk/reference/dictionaries/difficultwords |
fun-with-words.com. Everything you want to know about amusing quirks, peculiarities, and oddities of English language. Stuff like palindromes, spoonerisms, oxymora, and more. | www.fun-with-words.com |
Word Play. A list of links to dictionaries, foreign language translations, word games and wacky sites like The Apostrophe Protection Society, Burma Shave Signs, The Country & Western Song Generator and The Klingon Language Institute. | www.wolinskyweb.com/word.htm |
The Word Spy. This site is devoted to recently coined words and phrases, old words that are being used in new ways, and existing words that have enjoyed a recent renaissance. | www.wordspy.com |
Word Menu. This software version of Random House's printed Word Menu blends all best features of a dictionary, thesaurus and encyclopedia into one-easy-to-use reference. Words are organized by subject rather than alphabetically. Windows and Mac. Available from www.wordmenu.com.
WordDog Plain English Editor. Add this program to your Microsoft Word app and it will sniff out ambiguous words, verbose phrases, redundancies and overworked phrases. Windows only. Available from www.worddog.com.