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Writing Handbook Resources

Fawcett, Susan. Evergreen: A Guide to Writing With Readings. 7th ed. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004.

Evergreen is a product of Evergreen University known for innovation in developmental writing.  We have found it useful for ESL students.  This text is commonly used in non-credit English composition courses taught in community college settings.  Evergreen is very accessible to students in need of basic understanding of sentence structures and provides a wide variety of exercises under chapter headings from topics in basic grammar to understanding the paragraph. The workbook is accompanied by a practice CD.

Cazort, Douglass.  Under the Grammar Hammer. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1997.

The Hammer documents the “25 most important grammar mistakes” in a conversational and light hearted way.  The format is simple and the subject is supported by fun illustrations.  This book, with its strong focus, is a quick fix of 117 pages.  It is a good review for a student who may not have internalized all the rules, or may simply need to brush up.  The author uses terms like “bad swing” or “direct hit” to indicate right usage of sentence elements.

Cappon, Rene J. The Associated Press Guide to Punctuation.  Cambridge: Perseus Publishing, 2003.

Cappon gets down to business in a colorful way. A chapter is devoted to each punctuation mark. I haven’t found a more entertaining book on punctuation, or one that has more advanced vocabulary and sentence structure. This book clearly contains the voice of its maker, Rene J. Cappon, who goes to the trouble of explaining just why punctuation is so vital to your writing.  At under a hundred pages, this book is very accessible.

Lanham, Richard. Revising Prose. New York : Pearson Longman, 2007.

This book must be on your shelf because of its valuable editing exercises. Lanham introduced the “paramedic method,” a six point plan that attacks overuse of prepositions that obscure “who is kicking who.” Just a few of his exercises will improve your sentences by leaps and bounds. Here’s his list: Circle the prepositions; circle the is forms; find the action; put this action in a simple active verb; start fast—no slow windups; read the passage aloud with emphasis and feeling.

Strunk, William Jr. and E.B. White, ed. The Elements of Style.  4th ed. New York: Allyn & Bacon, 2000. 

This 100 page no-nonsense writing guide appeared in 1958, is still around after all these years and in its fourth edition with a foreword by Roger Angell. I recently reread this standard and find that it is truly ageless.  It is trustworthy and direct, and is all about style.

Lunsford, Andrea A. The St. Martin’s Handbook. 6th ed. New York: Bedford/ St. Martin’s. and Runciman, Lex.  The St. Martin’s Workbook. New York: Bedford/ St. Martin’s, 2007.

This guide remains the heavy-weight champion of writing handbook competitions.  Most any question can be answered by referring to the St. Martin’s. The workbook may be underused. It provides a plethora of specific exercises following the categories within The Handbook is in its 6th incarnation. Accept no substitutes and consider the workbook as a valuable tool. A CD of exercises for the twenty most common grammar mistakes accompanies the text.

Griffith, Benjamin W, eds., Vincent Hopper, Cedric Gale, and Ronald C Foote. Barron’s Guide to Correct Grammar. New York: Barron’s Educational Series, 2004.

This grammar may give you more terminology than you need, but if you are seriously seeking enlightenment you will find it here. Barron’s begins with the noun and ends in conjugations. It contains 200 thorough, concise pages. This is a precise grammar for the advanced student.