It is important to keep your facts straight when writing. In the “old days” we had stacks of books on our desks and nearby shelves. We still have stacks of books… it is a hard habit to break.
- American Heritage Dictionary and Webster’s Revised: Includes a dictionary, thesaurus, and book of quotes.
- Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary: Merriam-Webster's online dictionary also includes a dictionary, thesaurus, medical dictionary, and Spanish-English dictionary.
- Roget’s Thesaurus: Roget's Thesaurus is the thesaurus part of the American Heritage Dictionary group of references.
- The Encyclopedia Britannica: The Encyclopedia Britannica offers some free access to articles. More detailed information is available by subscription. Encyclopedia Britannica also owns the Merrian-Webster dictionary site.
- Bartlett’s Quotations (1919): The 1919 edition contains over 11,000 searchable quotations and was the first new edition of John Bartlett’s collection to be published after his death in 1905.
(We like http://www.bartleby.com as a general site, too.)
- Brainy Quote: Another site for quotations, organized by topic. Also an amusing site for humor, Brainy Quote contains mature material; it is not for children. http://www.brainyquote.com/
- Creative Quotations: A database of 50,000 quotations. The site is organized by themes and sources. http://creativequotations.com/
- Project Gutenberg: Begun in 1971, Project Gutenberg features more than 4,000 downloadable fiction and reference books, all in the public domain. http://www.gutenberg.net
Other Reference Sites:
- CIA World Factbook: Contains information about people, cultures, economics, and geography of the world's nations. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/
The following commercial software vendors provide the most popular tools used by writers, editors, and the publishing industry. The two “big names” in software are Adobe and Microsoft, but they are not the only choices writers have when considering software.
Word Processors and Specialized Editors:
- Apple Pages: Part of the iWork suite, Pages is a MS Word compatible word processor that offers more flexibility than Word for document layout.
- Corel WordPerfect: Yes, WordPerfect is still available for Windows and is Microsoft Office compatible.
- Final Draft:
For writing scripts and screenplays, Final
Draft is the standard.
- Literature & Latte Scrivener: A word processor and management tool, Scrivener helps to structure long document by forcing writers to outline and "chunk" their project.
- Mellel: A word processor for the Mac OS that specializes in long document organization.
- Microsoft Word: The
Office Suite is the standard for documents in business settings.
- Nisus Writer Pro: A Mac OS word processor that offers some of the same features as Apple Pages and Microsoft Word.
- Write Brothers' Movie Magic Screenwriter: Movie Magic Screenwriter includes 100 templates for writing and formatting movie and television screenplays.
Desktop Publishing and Graphics:
- Adobe: The Creative Suite dominates online and multimedia content creation. http://www.adobe.com/
- Corel: Within the
legal profession, WordPerfect remains popular. Also, CorelDRAW is
popular in small print shops, sign making, and other fields because it
can drive plotters and embroidery machines.
- Quark: Once a
leader in the publishing industry, Quark now specializes in single
source authoring and content creation for the iPad and other tablet
Digital Publishing Tools:
- Author-It: A single source specialist.
Just Systems XMetaL: XML content authoring tool.
MadCap Software: The leading vendor of single source authoring and publishing tools.
- SyncRO Soft: Developer of the <oXygen/> editor, which supports HTML, XML, and several other document standards.
- Grammarian Pro: An advanced grammar checker that works with a variety of programs.
- Writer's Blocks: Helps organize information and writing projects
- Dramatica: Aids in writing fiction by asking questions and organizing information in a structured environment.
- Mariner Software's Persona: Character development tool.
- OmniGroup's OmniOutliner: A Mac OS outlining program for organizing information. http://www.omnigroup.com/products/omnioutliner/
- Inspiration: Visual outlining, writing, and mind mapping tool.
Open Source Software (Free)
There are some open source applications used by technical communicators primarily in research and academic settings.
Word Processors and Specialized Editors:
- Celtx: Screenwriting software. Similar to Final Draft.
- jEdit: Java-based editor for multiple content formats and programming languages.
- LibreOffice: An independent version of OpenOffice. http://www.libreoffice.org/
- OpenOffice: Word processing, spreadsheets, and more. Similar to Microsoft Office. http://www.openoffice.org/
- Abiword (?)
Desktop Publishing and Graphics:
- GIMP: GNU Image Manipulation Program. Similar to Photoshop.
- Scribus: Desktop publishing application. Similar to InDesign, Illustrator, or even CorelDRAW.
Digital Publishing Tools (Web and eBook tooks):
- Amaya: HTML editor, the standard tool of the World Wide Web Consortium. Similar to DreamWeaver.
- Sigil: ePub creation tool that supports current standards and most eReaders. ePub is a specialized XML format.
- LaTeX (TeX): Specialized markup language, used within the sciences. Nothing is similar to or equal to what LaTeX can do with math-intensive papers.
Many of the popular websites for writers began as supplements to print magazines and journals. We expect some of these to be exclusively digital in the near future.
Poets & Writers: http://www.pw.org
Writer’s Digest: http://www.writersdigest.com
Writers Digest University: http://www.writersonlineworkshops.com
These organizations include writers within their ranks. Never pass up an opportunity to network and learn more about your profession. Journalists, PR copywriters, and writers of all manner should look into joining these organizations.
National Writers Union (Freelancers): http://www.nwu.org
Romance Writers of America: http://www.rwanational.org
Mystery Writers of America, Inc.: http://www.mysterywriters.org
Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc.: http://www.sfwa.org
Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators: http://www.scbwi.org
The Dramatists Guild of America, Inc.: If you are serious about writing for the stage, especially the New York City theatical scene (forgiving the pun), you must contact the organization for dramatists, often simply known as “The Guild” by playwrights. http://www.dramaguild.com
Alliance of Los Angeles Playwrights: http://www.laplaywrights.org
Academy of Television Arts & Sciences: http://www.emmys.tv/
American Film Marketing Association: http://www.afma.com/
American Women in Radio and Television, Southern California Chapter: http://www.awrtla.org/
Entertainment Publicists Professional Society — Los Angeles Chapter: http://www.eppsonline.org
Film Industry Network: http://www.filmindustrynetwork.com
Hollywood Radio and Television Society: http://www.hrts-iba.org/
Women in Animation: http://www.womeninanimation.org
Women in Film: http://www.wif.org
Asian American Journalists—Los Angeles Chapter: http://www.aaja-la.org/
Journalism and Women’s Symposium: http://www.jaws.org/
Radio & Television News Association of Southern California: http://www.rtna.org
Ad Club of Los Angeles: http://www.laadclub.com
Ad Club of Orange County: http://www.ocadclub.org
AD2LA: A Division of the Advertising Club of Los Angeles, AD2 Los Angeles is a group of advertising and marketing professionals under the age of 31 who are members of the Advertising Club of Los Angeles. For more information on AD2LA events and membership, please see the Ad Club online at http://www.laadclub.com
Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies: http://www.ahaa.org/
Entertainment Resources & Marketing Association: http://www.erma.org/
Public Relations Society of America — Los Angeles Chapter: http://www.prsa-la.org/
Public Relations Society of America—Orange County Chapter: http://www.ocprsa.org/
PRSA-Young Professionals Network: Networking forum for young PR professionals with three or less years of experience. Part of PRSA.
Promax International (Promotion and Marketing Executives in Electronic Media): http://www.promax.org/main.asp
Women Executives in Public Relations: http://www.wepr.org/
American Management Association: http://www.amanet.org
Council of Communication Management: http://www.ccmconnection.com
Institute of Management Consultants — Southern California Chapter: http://www.imcsocal.org/
Professional Communicators Exchange: http://www.thecommunicators.org/
Sales & Marketing Executives International of Los Angeles: http://www.smeila.org
Southern California Business Marketing Association: http://www.socalbma.org