Best proofreading books and style manuals
Thread poster: veratek

Local time: 18:01
French to English
+ ...
May 12, 2012

Hi, Amazon lists more than 1200 books on proofreading.

I'm looking for recommendations for books for improving my English proofreading skills, especially related to grammar and style.

Do you have any favorite books? Why do you recommend it?


Tina Vonhof
Local time: 13:01
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
When in doubt... May 13, 2012

When in doubt about a rule of grammar or punctuation, I look in "Handbook for Writers" published by Prentice Hall. It explains things clearly with examples of right and wrong.
The book "Eats, Shoots and Leaves" by Lynne Truss explains things with a touch of humor.
I have learned much about style from "Style: Toward Clarity and Grace" by Joseph M. Williams, which gives really good advice with many examples, and "On Writing Well" by William Zinsser about non-fiction writing.

[Edited at 2012-05-13 18:45 GMT]


Suzan Hamer  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:01
+ ...
Where to start? May 13, 2012

I like The Copyeditor's Handbook by Amy Einsohn, and also use The Chicago Manual of Style. Like Tina, I also recommend Eats, Shoots and Leaves (especially for UK punctuation), and On Writing Well. Line by Line, How to Edit Your Own Writing by Claire Kehrwald Cook and The Practical Stylist by Sheridan Baker are also good. Then there is The Subversive Copy Editor by Carol Fisher Saller and The Artful Edit by Susan Bell.

Edited after re-reading question and seeing you asked "why"... The Einsohn book and the CMOS are more or less "bibles" of US English style. I find both indispensable reference books. Copyeditor's Handbook covers just about everything you would want to know, is easy and interesting to read, and has exercises and "detailed line-by-line explanations" to quote the back of the book. It is a "lively practical manual for newcomers to publishing and for experienced editors who want to fine-tune their skills or broaden their understanding of the craft."

I suppose if I could buy only one book, it would be Einsohn, but reading the others will add to your understanding and skills. And yes, Eats, Shoots and Leaves will probably make you laugh out loud, while learning something.

[Edited at 2012-05-13 22:26 GMT]

[Edited at 2012-05-13 22:26 GMT]


Marina Steinbach  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:01
English to German
I am also looking for something of the kind. May 13, 2012

I am also looking for something of the kind.

At the moment I am borrowing books from the library, and I am glad that I didn’t have to buy those.

A brief summary or a program on the internet, where I could look up something quickly - and perhaps even for free - would be nice...


Suzan Hamer  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:01
+ ...
You might find these website helpful. May 14, 2012 Start with "Word and Sentence Level" and scroll down to find the subject you want to know about.

Oh yes, and The Chicago Manual of Style has a free online Q&A:

[Edited at 2012-05-14 07:42 GMT]


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Best proofreading books and style manuals

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