Sep 08 2010

Tools and Resources for Grammar, Copywriting, Spelling and More

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So much of the web is based around written content that it’s important for anyone who works online to have a good grasp of language, including grammar and spelling. But it’s not always easy to find reputable sources that can teach us these things if we didn’t learn them in school (or retain them for long after). Below are over thirty great resources for learning more about grammar, vocabulary, copywriting, and more. If you have more resources you’ve found helpful, please share them in the comments!

Grammar Resources

The resources included here will help you perfect your punctuation and refine your word usage. Some are very practical and down-to-earth while others inject a fair dose of humor into the learning process.

When to Use I.E. in a Sentence
This is a fantastic comic from The Oatmeal that explains exactly how and when to use i.e. in a sentence, complete with angry gorilla.

How to Use a Semicolon
The semicolon is probably the single-most misused punctuation mark out there. This comic from The Oatmeal will show you how to properly use them.

10 Words You Need to Stop Misspelling
This is another great comic from The Oatmeal that talks about 10 commons words a lot of people misspell, and how to remember the proper spellings.

How to Use an Apostrophe
This comic from The Oatmeal talks about how to use apostrophes correctly. After the semicolon, it’s probably the most misused punctuation mark out there.

Five Grammatical Errors that Make You Look Dumb
This post from Copyblogger covers five very common grammatical errors that make you look less intelligent than you really are.

A Ten Minute Tour of Complex Sentences: Phrases, Clauses and What They Do
This article from the University of Chicago discusses the different parts of complex sentences and how to craft them.

Schoolhouse Rock Lyrics
This site includes the lyrics for all the grammar songs from the classic Schoolhouse Rock cartoons.

Grammar Girl
The Grammar Girl blog posts tips on a variety of grammar topics, in easy-to-understand language. Podcast version of their articles are also available.

GrammarBook.com
This site has a pretty thorough listing of rules related to punctuation and grammar, organized by subject.

English Practice
This website has a wide array of information on the basics of English grammar and language, as well as more advanced topics. Sections on common mistakes, creative writing, business writing, and more are all included.

The Importance of Correct Punctuation
This short example is one of the best supporting documents for the importance of correct punctuation.

Comma
This brief article from Writing English covers everything you need to know about proper comma usage.

The Tongue Untied Blog
This blog covers all the basics of grammar, and includes posts on things like subject verb agreement, matching pronoun cases, and using which vs. that.

Six Common Punctuation Errors that Bedevil Bloggers

Vocabulary Resources

Given the chance, most of us would likely want to expand our vocabularies. The sites here can help you do just that.

Pleonasms
Pleonasms are redundant or repetitious statements (like “frozen ice” or “dark night”). This page offers a pretty substantial list of those kinds of statements.

Wordsmyth
Wordsmyth is an online dictionary and thesaurus that includes a variety of different dictionaries (beginner’s and children’s among them) and other tools, including an anagram solver, reverse search, glossary maker, and crossword solver.

Thesaurus.com
Thesaurus.com, part of Dictionary.com, is one of the most complete online thesauri available for free.

Visual Thesaurus
Visual Thesaurus is an app that shows mind-map-style word associations based on any word you enter. You can run a limited number of searches for free, but it is a subscription-based service.

Coolest Words
Coolest Words is a site that features definitions of the coolest-sounding words around. While not the most practical resource, it is educational and a lot of fun to look through.

WordThink
The WordThink website offers a word of the day, as well as a list of favorite words, and an archive of words of the day.

The WordsWorth Compendium Word Lists
These handy word lists are broken down by type and use. There are lists of adverbs (broken down based on sub-categories), action words, and terms related to specific things (including obscure topics like dental implant terms or creativity techniques).

Copywriting Resources

Designers are often asked to fill in as copywriters for their clients. And even if they never have to write copy for a client, they likely have their own projects that need copy. Here are some great resources for learning how to write effective, persuasive copy.

Copyblogger
Copyblogger is probably the best-known blog about copywriting for the web, and includes a huge archive of useful copywriting articles.

2 Pieces of Bad Writing Advice—And What to Do Instead
This article talks about the reasoning behind a couple of commonly-heard writing tips, and the stylistic results they aim to achieve.

The Copywriter Underground
The Copywriter Underground offers up some great tweet recaps with tons of resources, as well as some original articles about copywriting and content.

Writing for the Web
This page lists all of Jakob Nielsen’s web writing articles in one place. Included are pieces on writing style, passive voice, and microcontent.

100 Greatest Headlines Ever Written
The best part about this article is that not only does it include 100 fantastic headlines, but also what it is about them that works.

Fuel Your Writing
While not strictly a copywriting resource, the Fuel Your Writing blog includes a lot of great general writing and business writing articles. Check out their advertising and marketing category for the most promising ones.

More Language Resources

Here are a few more resources related to language that didn’t fit neatly in any of the categories already covered.

The 3 Most Common Uses of Irony
This comic from The Oatmeal talks about the three common types of irony, how to properly use them, and why a lot of the things we think are “ironic”, really aren’t.

24 Things You Might Be Saying Wrong
This article covers 24 common phrases you might be saying or using incorrectly. Included are things like “could care less” vs. “couldn’t care less” and “different than” vs. “different from”.

20 Killer Words and 13 Words that Kill
This brief article talks about twenty of the best words to use in persuasive copywriting and thirteen words to avoid.

About the Author

Cameron Chapman is a professional Web and graphic designer with many years of experience. She writes for a number of blogs, including her own, Cameron Chapman On Writing. She’s also the author of Internet Famous: A Practical Guide to Becoming an Online Celebrity.

Comments and Discussions
  • Zhu, 08 September 2010

    Great tips, especially for non-native speakers like me ;-)

    • Ian Williams, 14 September 2010

      The site is writen by non-native speakers!
      At least one cannot distinguish adjectives (‘wrong’) and adjectives (‘wrongly’).
      Ian
      London

      • Steven, 23 September 2010

        Dude, please…

        1. written not writen
        2. adjectives and adverbs

        Steven,
        non-native.

  • Tessa, 08 September 2010

    Anyone with any interest in writing in english should definitely own Strunk & White’s Elements of Style. It is mandatory. http://www.amazon.com/Elements-Style-Fourth-William-Strunk/dp/020530902X

  • Masroor, 08 September 2010

    Thanks for the great post!

    Is there any FREE site other than copycase which provide plagiarism check for the whole pages?

    Thanks

  • Sahan, 09 September 2010

    Love the comic based lessons :)

  • mister d, 09 September 2010

    strunk and whytes should be available online for free just google it

  • Anthony N, 09 September 2010

    Informative article with a lot of great every day tips and techniques.

  • aka Balu, 09 September 2010

    Nice.. Really useful Collection.

  • Taimur Asghar, 09 September 2010

    Nice, Thanks for sharing

  • logolitic, 09 September 2010

    hello, thanks a lot for this article, great sharing here.

  • Theo, 11 September 2010

    Great resource list, i will check them, thanks !

  • jDesai, 12 September 2010

    Let alone grammar, some people are really bad at spelling common words. I hope tools like these actually help them better understand the language and make content writing and blogging flawless…atleast when it comes to grammar and spellings. Thanks for sharing.

  • Speider, 14 September 2010

    Me like. This!!!!!

    ;) Speider

  • Thomas Rasinen, 15 September 2010

    Great resource, especially for those involved with copywriting and PPC!

  • ossama, 20 September 2010

    Great resources list. I checked them all, and bookmarked some.
    Thanks a lot

  • Tim Petch, 01 January 2011

    Great collection, bookmarked for future reference, many thanks Cameron!

  • Helen Bredson, 19 May 2011

    Really great collection!
    Maybe it will be useful to add thesaurus dictionary to this list?

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