By Alan Graner
1. Associated Press Stylebook Online
Is it “affect” or “effect”? Does the period go inside or outside the quotation marks? Do acronyms require periods after each letter? For years, journalists, editors, PR writers and serious copywriters have relied on the Associated Press Stylebook for definitive answers on grammar, spelling, punctuation, word usage and more. You can purchase the print addition, or you can use the online version, which is constantly updated.
Subscriptions begin at $26.00 per year.
I’ve used swipe files for decades to find inspiration when I’m stuck for a creative idea or when I want to break free of my own ideas and reach for something new. Basically, a swipe file is a collection of ads, pictures, designs, direct mail pieces, color swatches or anything that can light your creative fires. Designed for marketers, copywriters and business minds, Swiped.co offers examples of copywriting, graphic design, persuasion elements, great marketing strategies and more. An easy-to-use search features calls up examples in the field you’re looking for.
Free. You can also Sign up to receive weekly “Swipe Studies.”
3. CoSchedule Headline Analyzer
Whether you’re writing an ad, a blog, an article or any marketing piece, the most important element is your headline. Its job is to grab reader attention within eight seconds or you lose them forever. The Analyzer is easy to use. Simply type your headline into the box and get your headline score as well as a breakdown of your headline’s structure. Use this and other information to keep refining your headline and increasing your score until you have a winner.
Ever try to find the perfect word in a thesaurus? It can be time consuming as you flip back and forth between different sections to find just the right shade of meaning. Thesaurus.com makes the task so much easier. That’s why it sits on my task bar for quick access. Type in a word and you immediately get a list of common synonyms. But wait, there’s more: lists of related words arranged by shades of meanings. So if you enter “lots” you get related lists about “much,” “plenty,” “allotment,” “amount” and others that enable, allow and permit you to find just the right word. As an added bonus, Dictionary.com is on a companion tab.
5. CC Search
I have a friend who wrote a eBook and illustrated with images found on the internet, figuring if it’s on the web it’s free. Not only is he dead wrong, he can be liable for hefty fees if he’s caught violating copyright. I use Creative Commons images exclusively to avoid those pitfalls. CC Search makes finding such images child’s play. Enter the type of image you want and choose from several available sites including Pixabay, Wikimedia Commons, Google Images, Flickr and others. The images are surprisingly good. A word of caution: not all images suggested on Google Images are in the public domain, but it’s easy to determine which are. Flickr usually requires attribution.
There are hundreds of additional tools on the web, but these are my go-to tools. Which would you add?
Alan Graner is Chief Creative Officer at Daly-Swartz Public Relations, an Orange County, CA business public relations and marketing content firm. For content that makes you stand out from the crowd, email Jeffrey Swartz at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or visit www.dsprel.com.