Author/ copyeditor Jody Staton gave me a list of reference books she uses with her work. I thought I would share them with you, just in case you see one that you don’t know about and really could use.
Spell check in your Word program helps catch misspellings, except they don’t help when you’ve used a legitimate word in the wrong way, and they don’t tell you when you’ve used the wrong style – one word, hyphenated, or two words – for a compound word.
Here a some reference and style books worth having:
Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. This is the dictionary required by publishers I’ve work with. There is an online edition of M-W’s huge unabridged dictionary online. Amazon has the hardcover book with the online subscription for $20.35.
The Chicago Manual of Style – 16th edition: This is practically the bible for copy editors, required by publisher, and often the final word on question we have about style. There is an online version that has great search functions that you can use to quickly find the relevant grammar/punctuation rule(s). You can get a free 30 day trail. Here’s the link: http://press-booksweb.uchicago.edu/MOSSSF/FreeTrial.aspx and the yearly price is $35. Amazon sells this book for $35.51
Style: The Basics of Clarity and Grace, by Joseph M. Williams. Practically a graduate course in crafting good sentences. On Amazon for $39.13
Some other good style books:
The Careful Writer: A Modern Guide to English Usage and Watch Your Language, both by Theodore M. Bernstein
Words into Type, from Prentice-Hall
And if you like your grammar serve with a dollop of humor:
The Transitive Vampire: A Handbook of Grammar for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doomed both of these books are by Karen Elizabeth Gordon.
Sin and Syntax: How to Craft Wickedly Effective Prose, by Constance Hale
Spunk and Bite: A Writer;s Guide to Punchier, More Engaging Language & Style, by Arthur Plotnick