Research Tools

Scroll down for a number of traditional reference materials now available online as well as easy-to-search tool sites and discussion forums to make your editing practice a little bit easier.

Acronym Finder

Similar to a searchable dictionary, this site boasts over one million acronyms, abbreviations, and initialisms. Most results provide essential background information on the search term as well as additional links for viewing.

alt.usage.english newsgroup

Although registration is required, this open group entertains questions about past and present usage of English words as well as an extensive archive of past discussions pertaining to usage issues and development over time.

CIA World Factbook

For government-verified facts, the United States Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook offers facts on “the history, people, government, economy, geography, communications, transportation, military, and transnational issues for 267 world entities,” and is updated regularly.


A tech support site for any editors using Microsoft Word on a regular basis. The site doubly functions as a tech support community for editors with questions about using this software as well a download hub where new add-ins and specially-developed tools are uploaded. Additional resources and a free group newsletter are also available.

International Digital Object Identifier (DOI) Foundation

With APA style requiring the inclusion of a DOI whenever possible, an international foundation was formed and made publicly accessible. Thus, this tool let’s editors look up DOIs as well as register new ones.

International Trademark Association

Once used predominantly by companies, membership is now available to anyone willing to register and renew. Current members have access to a comprehensive list of trademarks. For any editor interested in the rules of trademark usage, a simple search of the website or a click on the “Policy and Advocacy” tab directs editors to the most current terms of use.

Language Log

Another group-maintained site where anyone with a usage question can search the group’s archive for past discussions of that question or ask one of the current contributors to pose the question and field responses from others.

Legal Information Institute

The institute was founded by lawyers wanting the same thing many editors do: cut the legalese. The site is continually updated by contributors from Cornell University School of Law and offers free and open access to recent legal articles and educational materials intended to explain legal terminology more clearly.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online

Commonly used in newspaper publishing, many editors default to when the correct spelling or use of a word needs to be checked, but the stie also offers a thesaurus, medical dictionary, and an encyclopedia.

National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, GEOnet Names Server

A United States government site that updates the official names of foreign geographic names and the unofficial variant names. Related information, such as country codes, is also available for download. For geological names and information within the United States, see the U.S. Geological Survey link listed below.

Sample Style Sheet Pages

Two editors, Kate and Bill Daly, provide a helpful overview of style sheets by describing the purpose of the sheets and examples of the content style sheets typically present.

U.S. Geological Survey

Through the Department of the Interior, this site offers editors the option to search for correct names of geological objects and places in the United States. Terms are explained along with helpful maps, images, and other educational materials for any editor interested in better understanding any domestic geological entity. For international geological entities, scroll up to the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, GEOnet Names Server.


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