There’s more to writing than software. In fact, there are a number of other resources that writers have traditionally relied upon. Usually, those resources were in thick tomes that sat on bookshelves near our typewriters, word processors, or computers.
I’m sure that more than a few of the fives of people who read this blog have your favourite references close at hand. Well, when you’re working at home anyway.
What happens when you’re away from your reference materials and need a fact or a quip or something else to spice up your work? You turn to the internet, of course.
Let’s look at a few useful online resources for writers. While many of them are reference material of some sort, I’ve mixed in a few other resources that you can’t find offline.
Writers love words. We can be obsessive about them. And what better resource for words than a dictionary?
Dictionaries go beyond the OED or Merriam-Webster. Sometimes, you need to turn to a specialized dictionary to understand a word or phrase or concept.
Technology pervades our lives. Arguably more so now than at any time previously. The terms used in the tech world can be confusing. If you’re struggling to figure out what SOA means or can’t tell the difference between tumblogging and microblogging, you’ll want to check out Whatis.com and the Tech Terms Computer Dictionary. Both offer easy to understand while detailed definitions of hundreds of technology terms.
If, on the other hand, your interests lie in the business world then the AllBusiness Dictionary of Business Terms and BusinessDictionary.com are definitely worth a look. They cover the terms used in small and large business, finance, and economics.
Who doesn’t like a good quote? In fact, a good quote (as long as it’s relevant, of course) can add a little something to what you’re writing. While I used to turn to my well-thumbed copy of Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations in the past, now I go online.
One of the first sites I turn to is Wikiquote. It’s a product of the folks behind Wikipedia and contains a wide range of quotes on a wide range of topics and in multiple languages.
Speaking of a resource with quotes on a wide range of topics, you’ll find Quoteland to be a great source of pithy sayings. There are even audio versions of a number of speeches and pop culture references.
If you’re a fan of Goodreads (a popular site for sharing book recommendations), then you’ll want to check out the site’s collection of popular quotes. While not as extensive as Wikiquote or Quoteland, you can dig up a few gems here.
While I have faith that all of you only create original work, sometimes things happen. We read something, it sticks in our memories, and melds with our thoughts and ideas. Sometimes, lazy individuals with no talent or ability rip off our work.
In either case, it’s better to be safe than sorry. So why not check for plagiarism online?
A good option for that is Plagiarisma.net. Just copy and paste your text into Plagiarisma.net, select the search engine you want to use, and then click Check Duplicate Content. You can also upload a document or point to a specific URL (say, an article on the web or on your blog). The latter is useful when you’re trying to determine whether someone has ripped you off.
Speaking of which, on of my favourite online tools for discovering whether or not someone has plagiarized me is Copyscape. Copyscape is quite easy to use. Just enter or paste a URL into the text box at Copyscape and click Go. Copyscape does a search and returns a set of results. Or not (which I hope is the case).
A pair of other resources
These are two other resources that you might find useful.
First up, Google Translate. Unless you’re a talented polyglot, chances are you can’t (or can’t quite) read that article or blog post in that foreign tongue. Google Translate offers a quick and dirty translation. It’s not always perfect, but you can understand it. And you can also suggest better wordings that will be used to improve other translations.
While I take knowing how to touch type for granted, I know a handful of writers who can’t. Maybe you’re in the same boat. Or maybe you’ve let your touch typing skill atrophy. In either case, you can turn to Typing Study and TypingTutor-online to gain the skills or refresh them. Both sites take a structured approach with short lessons that get you up to speed quickly.
Do you have a favourite online resource? Why not share your choices by leaving a comment.