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BUSINESS WRITING BOOKS

Business Writing Books

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 Writing
Books

Style and Reference
Manuals

Books on Presentations


Business Writing Books


Why Business People Speak Like Idiots: A Bullfighter’s Guide

Brian Fugere, Chelsea Hardaway, and Jon Warshawsky, Free Press, 2005

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.


Persuading On PaperMade 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 the job

Gregg Reference The Gregg Reference Manual:
A Manual of Style, Grammar, Usage, and Formatting, 11th Edition

William A. Sabin, McGraw-Hill, 2011

“Gregg” is 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 StyleThe 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

The Microsoft Manual of Style for Technical PublicationsGarner'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

Manual of Am. Psych. Assoc.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 electronic works.


For everyone

Write RightWrite 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


Wired Style: Principles of English Usage in the Digital Age 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.


Wired Style: Principles of English Usage in the Digital Age Point, 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.

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Bryson's Dictionary 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.


What’s 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. 


For practical ideas to improve business writing      immediately, read our Business Writing Tips
     and blog.


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