In our business
writing courses, people
often ask us to recommend books on business writing,
grammar and punctuation, and related topics. What
we recommend depends on the company and the types
of writing the employees do. Click these links
for topics of interest to you.
Business People Speak Like Idiots: A Bullfighter’s
Chelsea Hardaway, and Jon Warshawsky, Free Press,
Our favorite book on business writing, this Bullfighter’s
Guide should be mainstream business reading
despite its oddball title. It’s a splendid,
irreverent guide to what’s wrong with
business communication and how to make it right.
Especially valuable if your organization is
prone to fuzzy words and bloated sentences,
this book will validate your efforts to write
clearly. Order this book from your favorite bookseller.
Help Employees Write Better: A Guide for Managers, Trainers, and Others Who Care About Business Writing
Lynn Gaertner-Johnston, Syntax Training, 2008
Based on the author’s experience helping thousands of managers and employees write better, the guide shares practical solutions, tips, and action steps for managers, coaches, and trainers. It’s the ideal guide for people who find themselves continually rewriting other people’s work. Don’t rewrite—help others write better! Order this resource from Syntax Training.
E-Mail: A Write It Well Guide—
How to Write and Manage E-Mail
in the Workplace
Janis Fisher Chan, Write It Well, 2005
Everyone sends email, and nearly everyone can benefit from dipping into this book. We know executives who found it helpful. The slim volume of 181 packed pages covers planning, organizing, editing, proofreading, and managing email. Much of its good content applies to business writing in general, so if you want a writing guide complete with exercises and checklists, this is it. Order this book from your favorite bookseller.
Clarity, Conciseness, Zing, and More: 262 Ways to Take Business Writing Beyond the Basics
Lynn Gaertner-Johnston, Syntax Training, 2009
For professionals who want to take their business writing from pretty good to great, this guide features 27 succinct, no-nonsense articles with 262 ways to write better. With emphasis on writing efficiently, confidently, persuasively, and correctly, Clarity, Conciseness, Zing, and More helps writers succeed on the job and in getting the job. Order the guide from Syntax Training.
Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die
Chip Heath and Dan Heath, Random House, 2007
The book explains that "sticky," memorable ideas are simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, and emotional, and they contain stories. (The acronym is SUCCES.) The authors followed their own advice and filled the book with vivid examples, stories, and details. Made to Stick is must reading for people who write to sell products, services, and ideas. Buy the book from your favorite bookseller.
Style and Reference Manuals
For anyone who writes on
Gregg Reference Manual:
A Manual of Style,
Grammar, Usage, and Formatting, 11th Edition
William A. Sabin,
a comprehensive manual with the answer to virtually
any question on punctuation, capitalization, and
many other aspects of writing. With its detailed
illustrations, Gregg is
also a good reference for producing business documents
such as minutes, agendas, and financial statements.
Unless you’re intimidated by generous sprinklings
of terms like “independent clause,” this
is the best reference for correctness in general
business writing. Gregg is available spiral-bound from your favorite bookseller, and in a desktop (electronic) version from McGraw-Hill.
For writers at work, with helpful content for newsletter and magazine writers
The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing
on Media Law
Edited by Darrell Christian, Sally Jacobsen, and David Minthorn, Associated Press, 2010
The AP Stylebook features
all kinds of entries a journalist or newsletter
writer might need—things like trademark
information, names of countries and organizations, and the correct spelling
of tricky words—broccoli, for
example. It includes special sections on reporting
on business and sports, and it covers punctuation
with clear, crisp examples. "AP" is the first resource we grab when we need to answer a spelling or hyphenation question fast.
For editors, copyeditors, and proofreaders
The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th Edition
The University of Chicago Press, 2010
“Chicago” is the bible of
book publishers. It deals with the parts of a book,
manuscript editing, illustrations, captions, punctuation,
foreign languages, numbers, and much more. This
new, significantly updated edition also covers electronic publications in detail. We like and
use “Chicago,” but it’s
a specialist’s volume. Unless you’re
a professional editor or copyeditor, this expensive
reference book (about $65) should not be among
your first purchases. Chicago is available as a hardcover volume from your bookseller and by online subscription from The University of Chicago Press.
For writers at work, with helpful content for writers of contracts and other legal documents
Garner's Modern American Usage, 3rd Edition
Bryan A. Garner, Oxford University Press, 2009
Garner presents lucid, pragmatic opinions on essential issues of grammar, word usage, punctuation, and style. Of all the style manuals, Garner's offers the most wit and wisdom. It includes a "Language-Change Index," which indicates how well accepted a usage is, ranging from Stage 1, widely considered incorrect, to Stage 5, universally accepted as good English. Use Garner's to fight the good fight for clear language, especially in legal documents. Buy it from your favorite bookseller.
For science writers and editors
Publication Manual of the American Psychological
Association, Sixth Edition
American Psychological Association, 2009
This highly regarded volume is made for people
who write or edit publications in the behavioral sciences. It includes
guidelines on the content and organization of scientific
manuscripts; ways to express ideas and reduce bias;
and a lot about the correct, effective rendering
of illustrations, scientific abbreviations, numbers,
and measurements. It provides thorough information
on citing publications and other references, including
Write Right: A Desktop Digest of Punctuation,
Grammar, and Style, Fourth Edition
Jan Venolia, Ten Speed Press, 2001
In 200 compact pages, this humorous and accurate
guide reviews the essential mechanics of writing.
Venolia has fun, and her readers do too, with clever
drawings illustrating language slips such as “I
saw a man on a horse with a wooden leg.” This
is a style guide for your desk, but it’s
also small enough to carry. When you’re kept
waiting, pull it out of your pocket, dip into it
for a writing reminder or a grammar gem, and smile.
Books on Presentations
Real Leaders Don't Do PowerPoint: How to Sell Yourself and Your Ideas
Christopher Witt with Dale Fetherling, Crown Business, 2009
This inspiring yet practical volume helps leaders communicate a powerful message rather than simply relaying information. Author Witt, who himself avoids the use of slides, offers advice on weaning oneself from PowerPoint and on making the best of it when its use is required. He also shares unique insights on when and why to speak and how to deliver a compelling message. The book is a quick read and a lasting resource. It is available from booksellers.
Click & Wow! The Techniques and Habits of Successful Presenters, Third Edition
Claudyne Wilder, Pfeiffer, 2008
Point, Click & Wow! is a rich guide
for anyone who wants to present persuasively using PowerPoint.
The preparation checklists are excellent tools
for beginners and experts, and the many suggestions for avoiding problems can save you and your audience much embarrassment and frustration.
The book offers excellent advice on using slides creatively
to bring concepts and data to life through stories. Examples and templates of real presentations are included in the book and on the
valuable accompanying CD. Buy the book from your favorite bookseller.
Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery
Garr Reynolds, New Riders, 2008
This lovely book will help you present ideas elegantly and simply. Building on Zen practices, Reynolds applies the principles of restraint, simplicity, and naturalness to presentations. He guides the reader through the steps of preparation, design, and delivery, always focusing on connection with the audience. Vivid before-and-after sample slides illustrate how to apply the principles to presentations.
A companion volume, Presentation Zen Design: Simple Design Principles and Techniques to Enhance Your Presentation, is another great resource for serious presenters. Both books are available from booksellers.
even better than a business writing book? A
quick-reference tool you can use immediately.
In our business writing courses, participants
get tools, blueprints, and job-aids that do
the work of reference manuals. Click Our
Classes for descriptions
of our business writing courses.