Finding online writing references

Way, way back in the last millennium, professional writers would possess specialized types of books that helped them write. Of course in those days, “books” were thick objects made of wood products that did not need power or an operating system to function.

Gutenberg Bible. Source.

For example, at my first job out of college, my boss gave me a dictionary so that I could look up words and ensure that I was spelling them correctly. Over the years I have also owned thesauruses, general style guides, and more specific guides for proposal writing.

These books still exist today, although they may be in electronic form. But this information may also be available in other forms, where you don’t have to obtain an entire book to answer a single question.

For example, take questions about spelling. I am composing this paragraph in the WordPress iOS mobile app, and if I type a word that appears to be misspelled, I will receive a suggestion of the proper spelling. I don’t need to open up Merriam-Webster for anything!

Synonyms are also easier to discover. If I’m in Microsoft Word, I can just select the word and see a list of synonyms. Alternatively, I can just ask my smart speaker to fetch me a lot of synonyms.

And the smart speaker was smart enough to guess that “a lot” meant “large amount” and not “a guy who became widowed after leaving Sodom.”

And there are other one-off questions. I recently shared an example of a source that answered a specific question that I had. I wanted to pose the classic identity question “who he says he is” but wanted to use the singular they to do so.

Answer to my question, courtesy

These are just a few examples. Many of the writing questions that required a book to answer in the last millennium are just a few keystrokes or voice commands away.

So you can get free answers to all of your writing questions in seconds!

Well, not really free.

If you look at the Word Hippo example above, four words appear at the very top that have nothing to do with “large amount.”

got milk? Learn More

My 1980s Merriam-Webster dictionary didn’t have advertisements.

But you know what they said, even in the 1980s:

The grabbing hands grab all they can

Everything counts in large amounts

“Everything Counts.”
Rest In Peace, Fletch. From

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