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The Authors and Editors Toolkit

Every author needs a toolkit to augment the writing process. In addition, if an author hires an editor or works with one through a journal, agreeing on the toolkit ensures that the publication team will use the same tools.  My basic, on-the-shelf, kit includes these tools:

Citation checker for all of the style guides listed below:

Expert English encyclopedia: Encyclopedia Britannica
At the least, compare to information in Wikkipedia!

English Dictionary/Thesaurus

Multi-language Dictionary/Thesaurus


Online glossary of statistical tools
Table of statistical symbols, explained to include the formulas 

Style Guides ( also known as Handbooks)
Authors should obtain and use their disciplinary style guide from the first manuscript they compose in their disciplines. Style guides will introduce the author to the writing of their disciplinary communities—and the conventions for grammar, punctuation, structure for tables and figures, citations, and so on,  and the ethics of scholarly publication in that discipline.

If working on a dissertation or thesis, MAKE SURE your committee members all have the same (preferably most recent) edition of the style guide they want you  to use—purchase copies for them if need be! If working on the journal-article(s) form of dissertation, use the most current style guide(s) associated with the journal to which you intend to submit your manuscript(s) in addition to your graduate school’s recommendations. Note also that many graduate schools provide detailed instructions for the manuscript format that may differ from what is described in the handbook advocated by that school for use. Both must be followed for a successful dissertation.

The best time spent before you write is that time to obtain the proper style guides and do a quick read first. Understand the guidelines and reconcile what you must with your graduate school before you begin writing. In a subsequent blog, I’ll recommend the order in which you might wish to write the sections of a journal article or a dissertation.

These are the most frequently recommended style guides, representing the continuum of writing communities from the humanities through the sciences:

American Psychological Association (APA) Publication Manual (2010, 6th Ed.)
Book:    Scroll down for other languages.
APA style is a journal style that is frequently used as well for dissertations and theses in the social sciences. Detailed instructions are given for citing in text and in the reference list; many examples are provided of correct format for tables and figures. Sample manuscript is provided. The chapter on ethics in publishing is clear and concise for the social sciences; the guide gives extensive explanations of how to display statistical information.

Council of Science Editors (CSE), Scientific Style and Format (2014, 8th Ed.)
Book at
Support at
The handbook for scholarly publishing in all of the sciences.

Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), Style Manual (2017)
Book (free online):
IEEE established and upholds the standard for writing in engineering. These websites link to a wealth of resources for authors writing in the fields of engineering. Chemical engineers also use the resources of the American Chemical Society (ACS) and their handbook, The ACS Style Guide at

Modern Language Association (MLA), MLA Handbook (2016, 8th Ed.)
Templates and practice citations:
Support through the blog questios:
Used primarily by those in disciplines related to literature, languages, rhetoric, and writing.

University of Chicago (UC), Chicago Manual of Style, (2017, 17th ed.) at

For online styles see
Humanities citation style is now called “Notes and Bibliography” style.
Sciences and social sciences journals often use the “Author/date” style.

UC Press set the standard for these two citation styles. The manual provides excellent explanations of scholarly publishing as well as conventions common to English both British and American.

Two additional resources may help if you are having trouble doing library research or writing an argument about your research:

Mann, Thomas. (2015, 2005, 1995, 1987). The Oxford Guide to Library Research. Oxford, New York: Oxford University press.
Mann is a reference librarian at the U.S. Library of Congress; his explanations of how to find traditional as well as online information cannot be surpassed! Note his explanation of how to construct keywords in conjunction with the Library of Congress subject heading system.

Turabian, Kate L.  (2007). A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations. 7th ed. Revised by W.C. Booth, G. S. Colomb, J. M. Williams.  Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
This revised edition, especially Chapter 5, “Planning your argument”, explains how the hypothesis, claim, and supporting evidence relate to an effective argument.

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