From Ann McGlothin Weller’s roundtable presentation at the 2013 UPPAA Spring Conference.
In a time when you can find almost anything on Google and other internet sites, some people think books aren’t needed or helpful. I disagree! Besides, some are just plain fun to read.
O’Conner, Patricia T. Woe Is I: The Grammarphobe’s Guide to Better English in Plain English. New York: Putnam, 1996.
Described, correctly, as a clear, simple, elegant introduction to good usage. The bonus is that it is very funny; it’s one of my favorite references.
Truss, Lynne. Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation. New York: Penguin, 2003.
Favors the British style of punctuation, but has good, pointed advice (e.g., “Don’t use commas like a stupid person.”)
Wallraff, Barbara. Word Court: Wherein verbal virtue is rewarded, crimes against the language are punished, and poetic justice is done. New York: Harcourt, 2000.
“Word Court” has been a feature of The Atlantic Monthly magazine.
——– Your Own Words. New York: Counterpoint, 2004.
By the author of “Word Court”; practical answers to readers’ (and writers’) questions about word usage and style.
Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary.
There are many, many dictionaries; I like this one.
American Heritage Dictionaries editorial staff. 100 words almost everyone confuses & misuses. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 2004.
Includes word history, usages, forms, and hyphenation.
Gooden, Philip. Who’s Whose: A No-Nonsense Guide to Easily Confused Words. New York: Walker & Co. 2004.
You won’t need this book if you ALWAYS know which word to choose in the context of your writing: lie or lay, affect or effect, who or whom, loose or lose, it’s or its, and lots more.
The Chicago Manual of Style: The Essential Guide for Writers, Editors, and Publishers. 16th ed. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2010.
The best, and most thorough, style guide for American English; published since 1906. Available online.
Einsohn, Amy. The Copyeditor’s Handbook: A Guide for Book Publishing and Corporate Communications, with Exercises and Answer Keys. 3rd ed. Berkeley: The University of California Press, 2011.
Updates reflect the 16th edition of The Chicago Manual of Style; on-screen editing procedures; resources for editors.
Saller, Carol Fisher. The Subversive Copywriter: Advice from Chicago (or, how to negotiate good relationships with your writers, your colleagues, and yourself). Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 2009.
The subtitle pretty much tells it all. Basically a guide for editors…but authors will get a glimpse into what your editor may be thinking when she or he works with you. The chapter “Dear Writers” has helpful advice, including how to think of “Editing as a Gift, not an Insult.”
Gerald Gross, ed. Editors on Editing: What Writers Need to Know About What Editors Do. 3rd ed., rev. New York: Grove Press, 1993.
How editors work with different genres, by experienced practitioners.
Norton, Scott. Developmental Editing: A Handbook for Freelancers, Authors, and Publishers. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 2009.
This, too, is a copyeditor’s guide, but it will help writers learn more about telling a story in an organized and effective way.
Services for Publishers
writing . editing . proofing . research
87 West 14th St., Holland, MI 49423 . 616/396-2201 . fax 616/396-8237
email: editann @aol.com