March 22 2011

Tools Of The Trade

I appreciate minimalism. Short sentences work well. They’re direct and accessible.

The same goes for my office. As a writer, my tools are simple. I still have way too many paper files for the digital age, but I make up for it elsewhere.

A laptop with Microsoft Word is the essence of my professional existence. But it certainly helps to have other resources. For anyone who does any writing for their company or in their spare time, here are a few books that may help you as they do me:

  •  A good dictionary: I’m partial to Merriam-Webster (either in print or online), but go with a trusted name and a dictionary with heft.
  • “The Synonym Finder” by J.I. Rodale: When you seek variety or that word is on the tip of your tongue, turn here. Even if you don’t find the exact word, this resource is great at kick-starting my brain so that I think of the exact word.
  • “Woe Is I: The Grammarphobe’s Guide to Better English in Plain English” by Patricia T. O’Connor: If English classes had been this entertaining in school, I’m convinced more people would enjoy writing.
  • “The Elements of Style” by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White: Another great source for usage and presentation.
  • “The Associated Press Stylebook”: Journalists’ habits die hard, but this is valuable for any writer. How else would you know that book titles, except for the Bible and works of reference, should be placed in quotation marks? (See p. 65 of the 2009 edition)

posted by
Douglas Malan
Douglas Malan
Senior Writer

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