Writing References #4: 40 of the Best Books on Writing

Who vs. Whom.  It’s a classic grammar question.  The answer? Beats me. Well, if I don’t have any help, that is.  In reality, if I have a writing question that’s got me stumped, I just look up the answer.  And, as high-tech as my world tends to be most times, nothing beats a good, old fashioned paper reference. 

Previously, I posted about 10 of the Funniest Writing Blogs.  If you missed that post, go check it out–you’re guaranteed a laugh from the very particular bloggers who feel so passionately about things like the overuse of quotation marks. MONTBLANC

In the second post in the series, I offered readers a list of 20 Online Dictionaries, which included everything from the Dictionary of Philly Slang (our native language), to the RhymeZone, to the Dictionary of Sushi.  You can never have too many reference sources, right? 

In the third post in the series, I named 30 of the Best Writing Blogs.  Some of the blogs focus on legal writing, some are strictly business (writing, that is), and some are whatever they want to be on any given day.  Other great writing blogs were added via comments by readers, so be sure to check out those additions, as well. 

But today’s post is all about the real thing–books as references.  Below are 40 of my most turned-to sources, broken down into four categories:  (1) Style and Usage Guides; (2) Business Writing (3) General Writing and Grammar; and (4) Legal Writing. 


Please don’t be shy–add your favorites that I may have overlooked in the Comments section.


Style Guides

The Chicago Manual of Style 

Univ. of Chicago Press Staff

The Elements of Style,
William Strunk and E.B. White

The Gregg Reference Manual
William Sabin

The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage : The Official Style Guide Used by the Writers and Editors of the World’s Most Authoritative Newspaper
Allan M. Siegal and William G. Connolly

The Redbook: A Manual on Legal Style
Bryan A. Garner, Jeff Newman, and Tiger Jackson


Business Writing

Business Grammar, Style, and Usage: The Most Used Desk Reference for Articulate and Polished Business Writinga nd Speaking by Executives Worldwide
Alicia Abel

The Business Writer’s Handbook (8th Ed.)
Gerald J. Alred, Charles T. Brusaw, and Walter E. Oliu

The Language of Success
Tom Sant

Writing That Works: Communicating Effectively on the Job
Walter E. Oliu, Charles T. Brusaw, and Gerald J. Alred

E-Mail: A Write It Well Guide–How to Write and Manage E-Mail in the Workplace
Janis Fisher Chan

Send: Why People Email So Badly and How to Do It Better (Rev. Ed.)
David Shipley, Will Scwalbe

The Executive Guide to E-mail Correspondence: Including Model Letters for Every Situation
Dawn-Michelle Baude

General & Grammar

Line by Line: How to Edit Your Own Writing
Claire Kehrwald Cook

On Writing Well, 30th Anniversary Edition: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction
William Knowlton Zinsser

The Artful Edit: On the Practice of Editing Yourself
Susan Bell

A Grammar Book for You and I . . . Oops, Me!
C. Edward Good

Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
Lynne Truss

Gramatically Correct
Anne Stilman

Just Writing: Grammar, Punctuation, And Style For The Legal Writer
Anne Enquist and Laurel Currie Oates

The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation: An Easy-to-Use Guide with Clear Rules, Real-World Examples, and Reproducible Quizzes
Jane Straus and Mignon Fogarty

The Elements of Grammar
Margaret Shertzer

The Grammar Bible: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Grammar but Didn’t Know Whom to Ask
Michael Strumpf and Auriel Douglas

Twenty-Odd Ducks: Why, every punctuation mark counts!
Lynn Truss


Legal Writing

A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting
Kenneth A. Adams

Aspen Handbook For Legal Writers: A Practical Reference
Deborah E. Bouchoux

Block’s Effective Legal Writing For Law Students and Lawyers
Gertrude Block

Garner on Language and Writing
Bryan A. Garner

Legal Writing for Legal Assistants
Celia Elwell and Robert Smith

Legal Writing in Plain English: A Text With Exercises
Bryan A. Garner

Logic for Lawyers
Hon. Ruggero J. Aldisert

Mightier Than the Sword
C. Edward Good

Plain English for Lawyers (5th Edition)
Richard C. Wydick

Pleasing the Court: Writing Ethical and Effective Briefs
Judith D. Fischer

The Lawyer’s Guide to Writing Well
Tom Goldstein and Jethro K. Lieberman

The Legal Writing Handbook: Analysis, Research And Writing
Laurel Currie Oates, Anne Enquist, and Kelly Kunsch

The Party of the First Part: The Curious World of Legalese
Adam Freedman

The Winning Brief
Bryan A. Garner

Thinking Like a Writer
Stephen D. Armstrong

Working with Words in Business and Legal Writing
Lynne Agress

Writing to Win
Steven D. Stark

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