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My friends call me Elldee. And breaking the half century mark has been highly motivating: happy wife, mother, writer, teacher, day dreamer.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Spell-friendly dictionary

Every writer, whether he or she is a writer of fiction or non-fiction, journalist or reviewer, must spell correctly.  As a teacher I am routinely asked by my students how to spell a word they want to use in their writing.  I always point at the dictionary.  I do understand the issue of getting a big book of words and sifting through it for the correct spelling and that they find this tedious, especially when they know I can spell the word for them much quicker.

This is why I thoroughly recommend every writer, from student to pseudo-professional to professional consider having a Webster's Instant Word Guide or The Word Book III from Houghton Mifflin.  They do not contain definitions but are directed at spelling alone.  The majority of people who want to spell a word are not confused about its meaning.  So a speller's word book, such as the two listed above, is ideal.  And they are small, roughly 4" x 5 1/2".

They are compact, to the point, easy to navigate, and they supply one crucial component: If there could be a chance of confusion with another word, both are supplied with an extremely short definition (usually one word) next to the confused alternative, so the writer can make an informed decision about which is the correct one to use and spell appropriately.

Just to add useful to convenient and the critical low "overwhelming" factor, both these books also offer conversion tables for weights and measures, spelling rules, punctuation and abbreviations sections.

I actually have both of these books.  One I keep at school on my desk and the other at home.  I introduce my new students to them every year.  And though it is never a majority, many of them do inform me at some point in the year that they have purchased one.

Last word on this:  spelling is crucial in any public writing forum.  This is a non-tedious, easy-to-use fix for the problem.  It is even quicker than an iPhone dictionary ap and does the one thing wordprocessing program dictionaries don't do: provide you with the option of the "other word."
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