In fact get two dictionaries. They will often have different words they will include and some different definitions. Online dictionaries are great.
A great way to build your vocabulary from the dictionary – learn a word (or 3) a day and use it in every way!
Style guides are different from usage dictionaries. They deal with more minutiae like capitalization rules and citation formatting. They are still important, however, especially for academic work. Unlike usage dictionaries, they are boring reference books. Boring but necessary.
The CMS is a reference manual for editors and publishers of books–mostly academic and some mass market works.
The Associate Press Stylebook is used by journalists and newspaper editors.
The Modern Language Associate Handbook includes style and citation rules for academic papers in the humanities.
Google N-Gram Viewer
I’ve spent (wasted?) countless hours looking at N-gram charts. Google provides this fascinating tool that surveys thousands of published works going back to 1800 and providing data on the frequency of words. You can search for any word to see how often it appears over time. And you can make fascinating comparisons. Here’s an example comparing toward and towards in English publications (both British and American). This just scratches the surface of the kind of data this site can provide.
There are plenty of ways to use Google too, but one common strategy is to search for words to see how often they appear in searches. It’s a quick though unscientific way to see how common words appear on the web–a less regulated and more free market medium than books and print publications. Funner, for example, appears much more frequently in a Google search than it does in an N-gram search. We can assume from this that popular use hasn’t yet had much influence on more formal edited prose.
Source: Write at Home
Here’s one more resource
Get ABSOLUTELY FREE The Writers Secrets Insider’s Handbook CLICK HERE