Five Great Reference Sites and Online Tools

The Internet is filled with endless supplies of information (and misinformation) and it can be difficult to filter out the bits that you need. You could use a series of Google search tricks, but it’s also important to keep other online tools (and reference sites) in your toolbox too. And so, I thought I’d share a few that I use on a fairly regular basis.

Naturally, there are many others that you can use too. Wikipedia is great, for example, as is This doesn’t include social networks and media management sites that I use too. In any case, here are five great reference websites and online tools that I use for my freelance writing business.
The Grammar 101 series on this blog can help to clarify some of common confusions when it comes to word choice, but sometimes you’ll encounter a word in print that you have no idea how to say. And that’s where you would want to use You can type in just about any English word (and even some non-English words that are making their way into our vernacular) and it’ll pronounce it for you as a streaming audio file. does this too, but is much more purpose built and streamlined for its intended purpose.

Cut & Paste Word Count
Yes, I realize that WordPress has a built-in word count as part of the “edit post” utility, but sometimes I still want a separate tool for counting the words in a document. The Javascript tool is lightweight and is faster to use than a conventional word processor, especially since I do most of my writing in Notepad.

GSM Arena
A big part of my writing surrounds the consumer electronics industry, particularly when it comes to smartphones and tablets. There are so many different models and variations out there, it can be difficult to remember the precise difference between Galaxy S II and Galaxy S II Skyrocket, for example. GSM Arena has a huge catalog of phones with all of their most important specs, including the ability to compare multiple models. There are even a few CDMA phones in there.
Shifts in the currency exchange are outside of my control, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t want to know about them. There is an automatic currency converter built into Google, but is great for checking up on multiple currencies. The historical rates on Yahoo Finance are pretty useful too.

10 Minute Mail
Sometimes, you need to enter an e-mail address in order to access a site or use a certain service. You could have a “junk” address set up here or there, but the service offered by 10 Minute Mail could be even more convenient. It does exactly what you think it does: you get a temporary e-mail address that automatically expires in 10 minutes. You get a fully functional inbox during that period so you can “confirm” whatever it is you need to confirm.

Do you have a favorite online reference site or tool?