➢ Chicago Manual of Style
(in print or at www.chicagomanualofstyle.org)
The CMS is your go-to reference for all grammar, punctuation, usage, or style questions—our house style almost always matches up with Chicago style. Navigating the stylebook takes some practice; be prepared to think of different terms that relate to your question so you can find the topic in the index. This book is particularly helpful when it comes to special subjects like religious terms, ethnicities, titles, etc., but it’s always a good first resource.
If you prefer to use the online version, you'll need to pay for an account. Two great benefits to the online version are the search bar and the Q & A, where Chicago answers questions from other writers and editors.
➢ Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary
This is the primary dictionary that is used for our house style when spelling or usage is in question and cannot be determined by the CMS. In most cases, use the first spelling given by this dictionary. It contains most words and is useful for checking hyphenation of terms, as well—you can even look up some prefixes (i.e., anti-) to see a list of words beginning with them.
➢ Oxford English Dictionary
Available for free through the WVU library, this is a backup reference for when the free version of Merriam-Webster doesn’t contain a word in question. The OED contains almost every word in the English language, the history and development of each word, and examples of its use. Although not used by the press as the primary dictionary, it’s a good source to have on hand when others fall through.
➢ The Elements of Typographic Style
(by Robert Bringhurst)
This little black book is a great resource for special characters, which often come into play in medieval manuscripts. Appendix A, beginning on page 214, displays and names characters like dyets, eths, and thorns, providing a reference for when you need to discuss them in emails or correction lists or when you don’t recognize a special character. The following pages give details on each of the characters.
➢ Refdesk – Newspaper Titles
Newspapers may be mentioned in your text, and you may not be sure if the newspaper title is correct or whether the city is part of the name (i.e. The Morgantown Dominion Post vs. the Dominion Post). This site lists all the current newspapers by state, as well as newspapers worldwide. It’s a good idea to check any newspaper title you may be referencing.
(When dealing with newspapers that are no longer extant, it’s often easiest to type the supposed name and the city/state it’s from into a search engine—usually that will bring up a hit on Google.)
This site is useful if you need to check a citation format. Just type in the title and choose the format, and it will automatically produce a citation.