Resources

Useful books and websites

Effective writers don’t need to know everything about the use of English, spelling, common errors etc — but they do need to be able to recognise what they don’t know and know where to find the relevant information.

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Plain English

ONLINE

  • Clarity — the journal and network for plain legal language
  • PLAIN Language Association International — for the latest developments in plain English

BOOKS

  • Writing for Dollars, Writing to Please by Joseph Kimble (Carolina Academic Press) – makes the case for plain language in business, government and the law (with research showing how plain language saves time and money)
  • Oxford Guide to Plain English by Martin Cutts (OUP) –  an easy-to-read guide on how to write plain English

Writing guides –  for grammar and more

ONLINE

Go to bartleby.com for resources for writers, including:

  • Fowler’s classic The King’s English, an authoritative resource with common-sense rules of style and grammar
  • Strunk’s Elements of Style, the traditional reference for anyone who wants to write clear but classy English

BOOKS

  • English for the Natives – Discover the grammar you don’t know you know by Harry Ritchie (John Murray)
  • Good Writing Guide by Graham King (Collins) — a comprehensive guide to punctuation, grammar, English usage etc.
  • Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss (Profile Books) — the best-selling punctuation guide
  • On Writing Well by William Zinsser (HarperCollins) — an inspiring guide for writers who love words
  • Making Sense of English Usage by David Crystal (Chambers) — an alphabetical guide to the words we use (invaluable for writers and editors)

Style guides

ONLINE

BOOKS

  • Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors (OUP) — helps to solve those tricky issues that writers and editors face every day
  • Oxford Style Manual (OUP) — an essential resources for any writer or editor (and it includes the Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors)

Writing for the web

ONLINE

Readability tests

ONLINE

Editing

BOOKS

  • Essential English for Journalists, Editors and Writers by Harold Evans (Pimlico) — a classic manual by a former editor of The Sunday Times
  • The Copyeditor’s Handbook by Amy Einsohn (University of California) — a thorough grounding in editing for professionals (with exercises and answers)

Writing effective reports 

BOOKS

  • Writing a Report by John Bowden (How To Books)
  • Technical Writing for Dummies by Sheryl Lindsell-Roberts (Hungry Minds) has useful tips, checklists and examples

Clear legal writing

BOOKS

  • Find out how lawyers can write English that we all understand in PLAIN Language for Lawyers by Michele M. Asprey (Federation Press)
  • Lucid Law by Martin Cutts (Plain Language Commission) shows how Acts of Parliament could be improved by plainer language and clearer design