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A big list of go-to English grammar and writing resources
Jan 5, 2019
3 minutes read

As an editor, I often wrangle with questions such as “Is this capitalized?” or “Should that be hyphenated?” (still figuring out that last one). Here’s a few resources I often* refer to, for both Canadian and U.S. English.

  • Grammar Girl Quick and Dirty Tips
  • Oxford Living Dictionary (a free online dictionary from the respected Oxford University Press. Also includes grammar tips and a thesaurus.)
  • The Canadian Style (a style guide created by the Translation Bureau of Public Works and Government Services Canada. Even though I’m pretty sure it was last updated in 1997, the hardcopy book is still available in print and continues to be used today.)
  • As a journalist, I often refer to The Canadian Press Stylebook and its sister book, Caps and Spelling. These are available at most bookstores, although they are not widely used outside the Canadian journalism and public relations industries.
  • Here’s a PDF download of the 2016 U.S. Government Publishing Office Style Manual, the official style of the U.S. government.
  • Mailchimp Style Guide (great if you’re in marketing, like me.)
  • The Grammarly blog often has articles about writing rules. (I still refuse to install Grammarly on my computer, partly out of rebellion at the idea of computers replacing editors, but also because Grammarly collects what you write – including your emails – and that’s just creepy.)
  • The Punctuation Guide has lots of handy tips about how to use those pesky typographical instruments.
  • If a back-to-basics review is needed, check out the University of Ottawa’s HyperGrammar.
  • It’s not really a *writing* resource, but the MuckRack blog occasionally has articles about writing for PR people/journalists that can help anyone with clarity, message delivery and writer’s block.
  • William Zinsser’s On Writing Well should be a staple for anyone who puts pen to paper. You can buy wherever fine books are sold, or check out this blog on some of its most salient tips.
  • Do you know the inverted pyramid? It’s the concept where you place the most critical pieces of information at the top of your written work, and then less important info further down, like a pyramid turned upside-down. Although widely used in journalism, it’s useful anywhere you need to get information across quickly.
  • Copyblogger and Copyblogger FM.

Remember that while other people’s style guides are usually great resources, they can be subjective. Style guides set rules for how an organization should approach writing – sometimes they have different rules than what is considered “official”.

I’d love to hear what resources you often turn to – you can email yours to dbarrie@devyn.ca or tweet me.

*= Ok I lied, a few of these I found while writing this list. But I’ll certainly use them now!


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