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Top Reads for English Skills – Punctuation, Grammar, Etc.

Updated on September 6, 2012

These are my favourite recommendations for writers looking for help with English Skills, such as punctuation, grammar etc.

Business Grammar, Style & Usage: The Most Used Desk Reference for Articulate and Polished Business Writing and Speaking by Executives Worldwide

by Alicia Abell

At last, a reference manual suitable for two important tasks: providing a business writer with the means not to only write properly but also to speak correctly. While it is common to speak as we have spoken all your lives, sometimes, the method just doesn’t work in business. If you do not have the correct speech down pat when you are in a business meeting, you could lose that big contract. Abell provides easy access to the information you need to both write and speak in the polished , knowledgeable and exact manner demanded of business writers and professionals. If you have to buy one manual for your office, this should be it.

A Writer’s Reference

by Diana Hacker

Feel you need help in grammar, punctuation, sentence mechanics, revision and editing? This is the ideal book for you. In fact, this reference book is one treasured by many a college and university student. Over the years, the pages have become worn, but the information provided remains tried-and-true. Yet, the latest version provides you with some updates. It also comes in a spiral bound format making it perfect for plopping flat out on your desk. Tabbed sections make locating what you need easier. Wondering whether to use MLA or APA for documentation? Are you worried about your punctuation? You can find all this and more in this must-have reference book for casual and professional writers alike.

The Elements of Style Illustrated

by William Strunk Jr., E.B. White

If you have a thesaurus and dictionary beside you as you write, you are lacking in only one book – The Elements of Style Illustrated. Its mantra, “make every word tell” will remain with you. Sure, your English high school teachers tried to drill it into you as did those who taught you the basics of writing. This book continues this approach but says it so much better than some do and have. If you believe it, it will work wonders for you. Ask those who still keep their battered copies near at hand. The latest edition updates the information. What enhances it is the illustrations – yes illustrations. They make a beautiful and valid addition to a grammar book. They make learning grammar pleasing to the eye.

How Not to Write: The Essential Misrules of Grammar

by William Safire

It is a simple truth. If you make a grammatical error more than once, it becomes a habitual part of your writing. In fact, you may not even be aware of the mistake. Once embedded, it becomes very difficult for even seasoned writers to change this locked-in pattern. It may result in losing potential income. Employers reject work if all they can see is grammatical mistakes. William Safire, renowned for his weekly appearance in The New York Times Magazine, intends to help you change this. His humorous take in his columns “On Writing,” takes a terminally dry subject – grammar, and turns it into a interesting article. It is hard to believe that he can easily captivate you from start to finish while writing about capitalization and dangling modifiers. Yet, the book is more than an amusing romp through the rights and wrongs of the English language. It is an excellent guide, providing more than 50 solid rules to follow – together with the reasons why you have to do so. As such, it is an invaluable tool for everyone who wants to or has to write, from lowly students to professional writers.

Powerful writing skills

by Richard Andersen

If you are searching for an inexpensive but good guide on writing skills and techniques, this is it. Basic, accessible and handy, best describes this book. It offers essential grammar skills and advice. Chapters stand alone providing you with quick information when you need it. It will help you on the path and continue to guide you through your writing career. It is irrelevant whether you are focused on churning out emails and memos or are writing reports, proposals and other professional work. This book will help you along the way. If you ever panic, simply consult the grammar hotlines provided. Someone has the answer you need somewhere.

The Little Red Writing Book

by Brandon Royal

Looking for the ultimate guide for writing? Why not check out The Little Red Writing Book. It makes no difference what you are writing or what your goal is. This book is geared towards everyone’s position on the writing totem pole: casual, student, business, professional. No matter what your skill level, this book has the answers to your questions. Brandon Royal has put together a handy, dandy almost indispensible book based on the four pillars of good writing (structure, style, readability and grammar). Within this context, he dishes out in a very competent, yet non-threatening manner advice on writing as well as tips and rules, hints and basics. Have a problem with basic grammatical errors? This book has the answers. Wondering how to improve both your overall writing skills as well as that sometimes elusive factor – readability? This book will help. Containing charts, examples and even exercises, this book is determined to help you to become not merely good, but better.

Woe Is I: The Grammarphobe’s Guide to Better English in Plain English, Second Edition

by Patricia T. O’Conner

Some books on grammar put you to sleep. Either that or they are so full of jargon you end off more confused than when you started. This is certainly not the case with Woe is I by Patrick O’Conner. Whether you are concerned about the use of who and whom, lie and laid, I and me colons vs semi-colons and the entire question of periods, O’Conner explains it to you in a clear-cut, plain English manner. This book is determined to eliminate you from the gramarphobia list. Humor and common sense combine with the essentials you require. Whether it is writing that important email or putting together a professional business article, Conner gently leads you through the process in a surprisingly painless way. Under his skilled tutelage, professionals and novices alike will be able to tackle even the toughest of assignments. It is easy, straightforward and, as a bonus, is a guide through writing emails. Really, I never did know when I should or should not use an emoticon until now.

Word Smart: Building an Educated Vocabulary

by Adam Robinson, Princeton Review

Words are a writer’s essential tool. If you are incapable of expressing yourself and doing it correctly, you will never make the leap from mundane writer to well-paid author. Without the right words, you have not got a chance of being financially stable. You need to have the right vocabulary for all your tasks in order to stay in the very competitive game of writing. It makes sense you have, as part of your arsenal, books that help you hone your vocabulary skills and expand them appropriately. This book by Adam Robinson is one such work. Using exercises and quizzes, the author helps you to build-up your vocabulary. He also looks at how to avoid common pitfalls in the field as well as word misusage. Words are a powerful tool. They can and do influence others. Words persuade and dissuade. They help create for others an impression of just who you are. With this book, you can choose to make the right one.

Write Right!: A Desktop Digest of Punctuation, Grammar, and Style

by Jan Venolia

Learning how to write right can indeed be boring. It is not an easy topic to make interesting. People fall asleep at the mere mention of sentence structure and punctuation. Reading about grammar can turn most easily into zombies. Jen Venolia understands this. In writing her book, she decided to avoid this syndrome. By injecting humor into her book, she has created a situation where learning about how the various parts of a sentence function together to create a coherent statement is interesting and, dare I say it, even fun. In fact, this book is now in its second edition indicating that even with all the update information to make your writing currently acceptable, learning how to engage readers can be entertaining.

Writers Inc: A Student Handbook for Writing and Learning

by Patrick Sebranek

You probably did not really pay that much attention when you took English grammar. In fact, most classes rushed through it. In some cases, this time has long past. If you think a refresher course is required, consider reading this book. Patrick Sebranek provides clear updated guidelines to beginners and those who simply want to expand their current knowledge base on how to write more effectively. Within these pages, you will find help on how to research, provide proper documentation, correctly format your work, obtain information from online and even how to convert measurements from or to metric. It does not matter at what level you are nor is it important whether you have a project on hand or in mind, this is a handy book to keep, well, handy.

Writing Dialogue

by Tom Chiarella

Sometimes the writing flows easily. Sometimes, it simply sails along as long as you are writing a monologue or are refraining from dialogue. There is a reason why some people avoid having their characters speak. Some writers find it too difficult to create dialogue that suits that particular character’s voice. They get lost when it comes to creating lines for the antagonist, protagonist or any other person inhabiting their work. If this is your particular bête noir, read this book. Tom Chiarella has put together a book with its focus on helping you to fine tune or even broach the whole technique of writing dialogue. This, one of the very few to address the subject, walks you through the entire process. From finding an authentic voice for your characters to making them sound interesting, compelling and effective, Writing Dialogue provides you with the chance to make the characters that inhabit your work truly come alive.

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    • pinkhawk profile image


      6 years ago from Pearl of the Orient

      This is interesting and useful. Hope I could buy what I need.. Thanks for sharing! ^_^

    • RTalloni profile image


      6 years ago from the short journey

      This is a nicely done list of books for anyone who wants to improve their writing skills.


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