* The Oxford Dictionary of American Usage and Style illustrates how our language is currently being used, with thousands of examples from current publications, pointing out where they went wrong (or occasionally, right).
* Benet's Reader's Encyclopedia contains information about authors, places, characters, literary works and even words. The subjects are arranged in dictionary form. Turn to any page, and you'll pick up an idea for research or for a story.
* Bartlett's Familiar Quotations is useful when you need a phrase to add a special touch to your piece, or you have to track down who said this or that on a certain subject. An older edition is available online (along with several other quotation resources) at Bartleby.com complete with a key word search feature.
* The World Almanac and Book of Facts (World Almanac Books, published annually) will supply you with information on events of the previous year, statistics on populations, profiles of famous people, facts about countries and more.
— Source: Writers Digest
Of course, many of the reference books mentioned here, as well as a wealth of additional material, can be found at your local library or from Writers Digest Books. Get to know your reference librarian. If your library is a large one, you can become acquainted with The New York Times Index: It will prove invaluable in your research projects. And if your library does not have this index, call a nearby university.
There is an electronic alternative, of course, to traditional printed references. The Internet is a virtually unlimited resource as long as you know how to navigate its vast "library" and as long as you stick to recognized, credible sources when it comes to factual information. To this list I would add The Chicago Manual of Style, The Elements of Style by Strunk and White, Writing the Novel, Telling Lies for Fun & Profit, and Spider, Spin Me a Web by Lawrence Block, Stephen King’s On Writing, and Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg.
Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, you will need certain basic writing references if you want to become a selling writer. Buy yourself a good pocket dictionary and a thesaurus. Later, you can add a current edition of Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, which contains biographies and geographical names at the back, or Funk and Wagnall's Standard College Dictionary. When you're on the Internet and need a quick reference, www.yourdictionary.com is a comprehensive resource of online dictionaries and other language references. It also features a dictionary and thesaurus word search on its home page (these are provided by Merriam-Webster Online, a good online resource: www.m-w.com).
You will inevitably want to add to your at-home library. Here are some "nice to have" reference works you can pick up as your checks come in:
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