Thursday, March 22, 2012

OWL-ternative Online Sources, Part 2

While exploring the often-frightening depths of the internet for other interesting online writing resources, I stumbled across what might possibly be the most bland, generic name for a writing lab that one could possibly conceive:

Guide to Grammar and Writing

While its name certainly won't be winning any creativity awards, the core of this website is pure gold.  It has three drop-down menus that each deal with a different aspect of the writing process (such as sentence-level, paragraph-level, and essay-level) and three others for miscellaneous resources -- PowerPoints, Grammar Quizzes, and the like.

But the thing that sold me was the index.

Being the giant nerd that I am, I frequently find myself digging through rulebooks for various roleplaying and tabletop games.  Few things make me sadder than a poor index ... or the lack of one at all.  The index is alphabetized, which makes it easy enough to find what you're looking for, but what really makes it shine is the simple fact that it's on a computer.

Which means I can use Control+F.

If that keyboard shortcut was a person, he (or she) would be one of my best friends.  We'd go to picnics in the park, take long walks on the beach, and sing "Kumbaya" into the early hours of the morning.  Seriously, though, the ability to pull up a digital index and immediately locate whatever particular issue that haunts you is pretty awesome.  And yes, I'm aware that many writing labs have a built-in search feature, but rarely are all the resources compiled together in one convenient location.  It's also nice to see the other categories as you snag the particular one that's giving you trouble.

Now, with all that said, it's important to check the quality of the information.  And while you'll need to get past some cutesy fonts and its propensity to bold, italicize, underline, and color-swap constantly, it's definitely worth the effort.  It's a book that you definitely don't want to judge by it's initial cover.  The information is presented concisely and simply, but it's never intelligence insulting.

While the OWL certainly has a lot of good information on grammar, the Super Duper Zany Grammar-Palooza (as I'm renaming it, starting now) goes into an incredible amount of depth with a mind-boggling number of topics.  (NOTE: Apparently, my mind is not that difficult to boggle.  The exact number of entries is 427.  I'd have hoped that my brain-boggle threshold would have at least been in the thousands ... C'est la vie.)  It has entire entries on the difference between "few and a few," when to use slashes (also called a virgule, as I learned today), "which versus that," and many other topics.

The variety of topics covered and the detail given to each of them make The Super Duper Zany Grammar Funhouse of Doom worth a visit, at the very least.  Once again, I'm not claiming that this website should overrun the OWL with flaming pitchforks and bloody axes, but it's definitely a nice alternative if you have specific topics you're looking to explore in depth.

1 comment:

  1. I particularly appreciated the ode to control-f. Amen.