How Do I Write That?

Does that sentence need a comma?

How do I write a press release? A book proposal? A novel?

Is it complement or compliment? Continuous or continual?

I write something almost every day. And almost as frequently, questions like those listed above cause me to pause. Sometimes it takes only a second to recall the answer — If I compliment you, it’s an i, not an e. But when it comes to writing my own promotional materials or remembering rules about commas, sometimes having a little outside help is priceless.

Here are a few resources you may want to add to your writer’s toolbox. And if you have a go-to resource that’s isn’t listed, please share it in the comments below.

How to Write It, Third Edition: A Complete Guide to Everything You’ll Ever Write – From resumes to collection letters, press releases, bios, proposals and love notes, you’ll find how-to tips for almost any form of writing in this comprehensive guide.

The Elements of Style: 50th Anniversary Edition – The tiny book is a classic for good reason. Simple rules delivered in good humor, The Elements of Style will help you become a better writer.

Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th EditionSure, you can go online to look up a word, but something interesting happens when you use a real dictionary. You see more and different words. You’ll even see notes about the slight difference between continuous and continual that may help you make your writing more accurate and clear. In my house we have both the Kindle version and a thick, hardback copy.

If you write or edit magazine articles or books, you’ll want a copy of The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law 2011 and The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th Edition. Each publication follows unique style rules, but most begin with one of these two resources.

And finally, I don’t know where I’d be without my BFF, Grammar Girl. Now, I don’t know her real name and I only know her by her cartoon face, but her Quick and Dirty Tips have come to my rescue more times than I can count. If you have a grammar question, she’s your girl.

So, what’s in your writer’s toolbox?

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