If you’re reading this column, you’re likely already a fan of the Internet. But do you use it to full advantage for all your wordsmithing? Here are a few sites I highly recommend:

Have you ever called a 360 degree turn an about face? Save yourself from future embarrassment by exploring Common Errors in English. 

This alphabetical and amazingly long list, produced by a professor of English at Washington State University, reveals many fascinating facts. For example, did you know that "daring-do" should be spelled "derring-do"? And that "to table" something in the U.K. means to put it up for discussion, while in the U.S. it means the opposite? Lots of fun in exploring this site.

Do you tend to walk the talk, get your ducks in a row and try to keep the ball rolling? If the only thing that springs to your mind is the nearest cliche, you can surely use some help from the Cliche Finder. 

This fabulous free tool lets you paste in any piece of your writing and then watch while the software combs through it for cliches the way a mama monkey combs her little ones' fur for nits. Warning: you may be shocked by your own banality.

Are you a klutz when it comes to design? We're all given a finite pool of talent -- and some days I think mine went entirely into words and cooking, bypassing the design area altogether. (I can prove this by showing you my living-room or my feeble attempts at layout.) But when I want some design inspiration, I know exactly where to go: The Idea Book  by Chuck Green.

It has a bounty of templates, ideas and free tutorials. I love it.

Want to automate your mindmapping? I'm a big fan of mindmapping -- the process by which you "brainstorm" with yourself, on paper. (If you subscribe to my Power Writing newsletter,  you’ll get a free e-book from me on the topic.)

There's a lot of moderately-priced software that will help you mindmap -- although I mostly use paper and pencil these days. But when I get tired of trying to decipher my own printing, I now turn to Bubble.us,  which lets you mindmap on screen. Best of all, it's free.

Need to sound less pompous? I always like to check the readability stats on everything I write. My goal? I write so that my work ranks somewhere in the grade 7 to 9 level. This doesn’t mean my readers are stupid – it just means they’re busy and stressed. MS Word has readability stats built in (check your Help menu for how to activate) or simply use the  Online-Utility website

Yes, I know it’s ironic that the text at the top is in broken English. Regardless, the software works well and will give you your readability in five different indices. (This column ranks somewhere between grades 4 and 8.)

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