Even though your website will launch in a few hours, you still find yourself making edits to the About Me page. The content looks good enough and hell it should be since it’s what you know the most about, but you’re not sure if you used “accept” right or if you should capitalize “account manager” and you definitely don’t want to look like you have no idea what you’re doing. So instead of dusting off old textbooks (assuming you even kept them) or trusting answers on Yahoo (hint – you shouldn’t), use the tools below to find quick and reliable answers to your grammar questions.
Grammar Girl on QuickAndDirtyTips.com
Grammar Girl is actually a podcast created by Mignon Fogarty, but she also publishes articles on www.quickanddirtytips.com – a website worth checking out. Each Grammar Girl article focuses on a single grammar rule, so if you search for “affect vs effect” on her site, you’ll find an article by her called “Affect Versus Effect.” It explains the difference between the two without being wordy and gives a few examples. No more scouring the internet for a simple answer to a common question.
Some of her other popular tips include “I.e. Versus E.g.” and “Apostrophes and Plurals.” Most of the time, I don’t even need to search her site; I can just Google the grammar rule. She’s usually the first result that pops up. Now maybe that’s because Google knows me before I know me, but it’s largely due to how simple and direct her topics are.
And why is she better than Yahoo! Answers and so many others? Grammar Girl won the iTunes Best Classic Podcast award in 2013 and Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers in 2012. I can trust that.
Chicago and APA Style Websites
These sites are a bit more serious, but are also associated with the two most common style guides adopted by professions and businesses: Chicago Manual of Style and APA style . If your company uses a specific one, I would recommend getting a subscription to that style’s site, but until then you can find FREE answers to your questions using the resources below without a subscription to their sites:
Chicago Manual of Style Q&A Section
The Q&A section of their site is a list of user-submitted questions answered by the manuscript editing department. They tackle questions not answered in the manual or found in a dictionary and range from the very specific to the more general opinion. Browse through the questions freely or search for a specific topic. You can also submit a question or sign up for monthly alerts still without a subscription. Keep an eye on the Tools section of the site as well.
The APA Blog is similar to the Grammar Girl site in which a team of APA style experts write weekly articles on writing, but more specifically on publishing and the APA Style. The tone of each article depends on the writer, which may be a turn-off, but with a great search and category section, it’s pretty easy to find the article that answers your question. And if you’re still unsure of an answer, you can also submit comments or questions directly to each article which the writers seem to respond to within a day or two.
So even though a subscription or book purchase probably won’t break your bank account, chances are you can get by with just these free tools. Keep an eye on other paid sites that offer something similar.
And finally, if you aren’t sure whether to follow the Chicago Manual of Style or APA Style or you aren’t finding a hard and fast answer, never feel like you’re in the wrong by following what you think is best for your readers. They’re the ones that matter. If it’s a more casual write-up, write like your readers speak. Write how you speak. Use grammar that you know and leave colons and “whom” at the door.
The great thing about language and grammar is that it’s constantly evolving along with its users. I mean, hell, if we take it back old school, is the contracted “have” in “You’ve got mail” even necessary? Nope, but it sure did catch on as an acceptable phrase.
1. The Chicago Manual of Style is an American English style guide followed by many publishing companies since 1906. www.chicagomanualofstyle.org
The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association is the style guide adopted by many of the social and behavioral sciences first created in 1929. www.apastyle.org