Prepared by Michael F. Brown, Prof. of Anthropology
When commenting on problems encountered in student papers, I often find myself writing, “Consult a good style guide.” Among guides that have proved useful to me are the following:
- Karen Elizabeth Gordon, The New Well-Tempered Sentence: A Punctuation Handbook for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doomed (Houghton-Mifflin). No existing how-to guide is better (or funnier) than this indispensable work. Demystifies em-dashes, semicolons, and other punctuation puzzles.
- Williams Zinsser, On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Non-Fiction (Harper Resources, multiple editions). A wonderfully useful book; less about specific rules than general principles of good writing.
- Bruce Ross-Larson, Edit Yourself: A Manual for Everyone who Works with Words (Norton). Difficult and frequently misused words/phrases are organized alphabetically for quick reference. If you want to know whether to use “which” or “that,” “different from” or “different than,” this is your reference work.
- Lynn Truss, Eats Shoots and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation (Penguin). An improbable best-seller here and in the UK, although some punctuation mavens have raised questions about the author’s judgment.
- William Strunk & E.B. White, The Elements of Style (Allyn & Bacon, multiple editions). Doesn’t get more classic than this; a bit dated but still indispensable.
- Kate L. Turabian et al., A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations (University of Chicago Press, multiple editions). Another classic, freshened up with lots of practical information about working with word processors, citing on-line works, etc.