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blog | June 5, 2015

Five for Friday: Resources for the Right Word

By David Hopkins

I’ve started a four-part blog series to help you improve your writing. Every Friday, I will include a list of resources to accompany each blog. When it comes to Choosing the Right Word, I’m offering a book, a podcast, a game site, an app, and the best dictionary you already own.

  1. A Writer’s Coach by Jack Hart — In case you were curious, this book is the greatest book on writing. People get sentimental about Elements of Style. Heck, I was practically raised by William Zinsser’s On Writing Well, and Chuck Wendig’s The Kick-Ass Writer is a modern classic. But A Writer’s Coach is the only book you really need. When I was a writing coach at Martin High School, I used this book to guide my students. We placed at every competition. My students were always the best writers in the room. The guidance of Jack Hart, editor of The Oregonian, is sound and true.
  2. Grammar Girl podcast — “Your friendly guide to the world of grammar, punctuation, usage, and fun developments in the English language.” Okay, nerds, this one is for us. Mignon Fogarty covers everything from “who versus whom” to the correct spelling of donut/doughnut. She settles the score on how many spaces after a sentence (one, only one) and boldly declares that yes, you can end a sentence with a preposition.
  3. Word Dynamo — Improve your vocabulary with this website. It combines fun games with interesting word lists to build your vocabulary. Earn badges. Gain points. Leave friends in the dust and mock them. My word score is 46,696, and I passed level 20, making me an official Word Dynamo. Bring it on.
  4. Vocab Genius app by Brainscape — Beyond Word Dynamo, there’s the Vocab Genius app for your iPhone. Vocab Genius applies cognitive science techniques to learn over 1,300 dynamic flashcards covering some of the most useful yet difficult vocabulary words in the English language.
  5. How to Make the Most of the Dictionary in OS X — Imagine my surprise when a fellow Mac user told me they didn’t know their computer had a dictionary. Yes! Your Mac has a great dictionary. If I were you, I’d keep it in on your dock. Refer to it often. This article will help you take advantage of all its features.

If you haven’t already, read Clear Thinking for Great Copy: Choosing the Right Word. Between these resources and my own tips and tricks, you’ll become a linguistic maestro, winning friends and impressing people with your wordy ways.