Crystal is best known for his two encyclopedias for Cambridge University Press, The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language and The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language.
His recent books include Words in Time and Place: Exploring Language through the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary (2014), You Say Potato: a book about accents (2014, with actor son Ben Crystal), and The Oxford Illustrated Shakespeare Dictionary (April 2015, also with Ben).
Crystal has also authored several books on English phonetics and phonology and clinical books on language. His creative writing includes volumes of poetry, biographies, a play, Living On; and he is currently editing the poetry of the African missionary John Bradburne.
He has also acted as consultant, contributor, and presenter on several radio and television programmes and series.
He received an OBE for services to the English language in 1995, and was made a Fellow of the British Academy (FBA) in 2000.
He now lives in Holyhead, where he is the director of the Ucheldre Centre, a multi-purpose arts and exhibition centre. He is married with four children.