No matter how good we are at grammar, it’s nice to lean on external resources to assist with writing projects. It helps to have assistance with finding the right word or phrase and when you ask, “Where does a semi-colon go again?”
Here are the five best resources and when to use them:
1. Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White [Book]
The book Elements of Style, commonly called Strunk and White, guides and directs how American English is written and spoken. This book is frequently required for students from grade school through post-graduate programs. When you have grammar or syntax questions, this is the book to reference. It reviews grammar and punctuation and how to phrase something to sound exactly right, regardless of the writing product you are trying to produce.
2. OWL/Purdue Online Writing Lab
Most English instructors and professors refer their students to this website. It is easy to navigate and maintains the most up-to-date usage of APA and MLA reference styles. This resource is vital for anyone who needs a guide for writing reports, grants, essays, or papers.
3. Oxford Modern English Grammar by Bas Aarts
This concise resource is great for both British and American English users. The book covers spelling, punctuation, syntax, the proper usage of certain words, and the etymology of a common word.
Tip: Always ask the person you are writing for in which style you should work.
4. APA Style Guide, 7th edition
Most professions, including medical professions, use the APA writing notation style. This resource is available in both digital and hard copy. It goes over how everything is written from numbers to the use of the Oxford comma. Additionally, it is the definitive resource for referencing articles written for science and medical journals.
Tip: Always be sure to use the latest edition of the APA Style Guide as the rules change from edition to edition.
5. English Grammar 101 by Kitty Nash
This website is a simple grammar resource for writers and English as a second language speakers. It reviews basics such as nouns, verbs, and capitalization rules in addition to reviewing troublesome words like lay vs. lie. The website is well organized and very straightforward to use. This is a huge time saver eliminating the need to search the site for buried resources.
Grammar Assistance Tools: Proceed with caution
While grammar assistance tools like Grammarly and Microsoft Word spelling and grammar check are great tools for your writing, do not rely on them exclusively. They often find errors where there are not, but more often, they will overlook spelling errors (e.g. “in” vs “inn”), only check the basic punctuation rules, and don’t take into consideration the style you are writing in, like APA or MLA. Use them cautiously.