How We Work Writing Editing Coaching and Training Resources


Not every writer needs every resource. Here are some we find valuable at Red Pen Communications. We hope they lead you to others that serve you as well.

Red Pen pages

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On the Web

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  • A dictionary small enough to carry in your briefcase or book bag or keep right on your desk. Faster than booting up your computer for one definition, more reliable than the nearest wi-fi hotspot or your Blackberry’s battery. Go to the bookstore to see what fits well in your hand and your bag.
  • A good usage guide gives you more than a dictionary definition. It distinguishes shades of meaning, tone and texture, and keeps you from confusing discrete with discreet, or principal with principle. We like the work of Bryan Garner.
  • Style guides. We are often asked for The Rule about a point of grammar or punctuation when in fact there is no one rule. Different writing tasks are held to different standards. Learn what is required for yours, find the appropriate references, and follow them.The most common style guides for academic writing are the APA, the MLA and the Chicago manuals. All are well represented at the Purdue Online Writing Lab. Many fields have additional special requirements by discipline. Journalists use the AP Stylebook. There are guides for general business writing and many organizations add their own standards.
  • Personal favorites. The Elements of Style, often called just Strunk and White. Small enough to carry in your pocket, slim enough to read annually for a refresher in common sense and not-so-common communication. On Writing Well by William Zinsser, lessons in language and in life. Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss. Prepare to explain why you are laughing out loud at punctuation. How To Write A Sentence: And How To Read One by Stanley Fish. For a preview, listen to Fish's star turn on National Public Radio's Talk of the Nation (1/25/2011). And on the subject of NPR, for a great soup-to-nuts guide to good storycraft, see Sound Reporting: The NPR Guide to Audio Journalism and Production by Jonathan Kern.

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More to come

On this page, there's always more to come.


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Why waste the reader’s time with needless syllables? Bonus: the right long word will stand out when it's not surrounded by clutter.

Assistance = help
In order to = to
Emergency situation = emergency
Initiate = start, begin

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