Review: New Oxford Dictionary for Writers & Editors

annecoatesA review of New Oxford Dictionary for Writers & Editors, kindly written by Anne Coates.

Anne Coates is an editor and author who has published seven non-fiction books including Applying to University 2014 (Need-2-Know), Parenting Without Tears Guide to Living with Teenagers and Parenting Without Tears Guide to Loving Discipline (both Endeavour Press) plus two collections of short stories. She is currently working on a crime novel and can be followed on twitter @Anne_Coates1

oxforddictionarySubtitled The Essential A-Z Guide to the Written Word, this dictionary was first published as the Authors’ and Printers’ Dictionary in 1905. There have been many versions and incarnations  over the years and this is the latest: revised and updated.

New Oxford Dictionary for Writers & Editors (£14.99/ ¢35 is a compact size  and is the perfect desk companion for anyone who is writing or editing. So if you often wonder which words are hyphenated, you can see at a glance that ice bucket is two words, ice-cold is hyphenated but icebreaker is one word.

You’ll also find correct spellings of authors’ names together with their dates, and real names if they wrote under a pseudonym as well as the titles of books and the names of fictional characters. Personally I wondered how they chose which authors and book titles to include – Shakespeare and Dickens are included along with Lewis Carroll but obviously modern authors are missing but pop singers like Madonna make the page. With 434 pages obviously editorial decisions had to be made.

Apart from the obvious use of checking spellings of difficult or unusual words, the dictionary also gives alternative and American forms, abbreviations, foreign and specialist terms as well as which words have an initial capital letter and those which should or should not be in italics.

The appendices list Great Britain’s prime ministers since the 18th century and the presidents of the United States of America, members of the European Union, the Greek alphabet, diacritics and accents, mathematical symbols, SI units, metric prefixes and chemical elements.

If you love words, you’ll love dipping into this book and will be returning to it anon (soon) and not anon. (anonymous with a full stop).

I have certainly found a few errors I have been making  – hyphenating sitting room is just one – and, as someone who has always loved dictionaries, this one has a special place on my desk.

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