The Only Three Writing Resources You'll Ever Need

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Of all the writing, grammar and punctuation books, resources and links I've read, there are three that stand out in my mind as being the absolute best. These are not only the best resources for high school and college students, but also for copy editors and freelance writers as well.

These aren't "preachy" resources, nor or they the most dull, drab, boring ones available. Two of them even have a sense of humor.

The reason I list these is that, looking at some of the Warriors for Hire threads as well as the "help me" writer threads on the main forum, it looks like there's a desperate need for quality writing books.

These resources are perfect for IM'ers and freelance writers time-wise as well. In other words, it won't take you all year to get through them.

So without further ado, here's my three favorite resources. And there's no affiliate links - just product links.

1. The Associated Press Guide to News Writing

Amazon.com: The Associated Press Guide to News...Amazon.com: The Associated Press Guide to News...
Forget that you're not a journalist. Being a journalist or a freelance writer or content creator has nothing to do with the way you write - inherently. Of course, there are many intrinsic differences, but developing an easy to follow writing style is something that is valuable in any niche.

This resource provides plenty of humor mixed with a number of ways to make your writing more colorful without being overly sarcastic. Trust me, your readers will thank you.

2. Jensen's Punctuation

Jensen's Punctuation: Frode Jensen: 1886061262: Christianbook.com

No grammar frills. This book just teaches you how to structure sentences using the proper punctuation marks. Like I mentioned in another post, the information I learned in this book has stuck with me for years. It's seriously the only real punctuation help I've ever gotten.

3. The Elements of Style

Introductory. Strunk, William, Jr. 1918. Elements of Style

The really good edition is mostly E.B. White's work, but the original is fine as well. It's available for free here.


Edit: For those who are looking for an actual grammar program, I also recommend Jensen's Grammar. You can check out the specifics here:

http://www.christianbook.com/jensens...sen/pd/6061289
#resources #writing
  • Profile picture of the author Rikki_Fawkes
    Originally Posted by Joe.Mc View Post

    Personally I still find it hard to believe people have yet to figure out Microsoft Word has a spelling and grammar checker. Just run all your articles through that first, combine the results with a bit of common sense, you shouldn't have any problems.

    Edit: That isn't to say people won't benefit from the links you posted as well
    I still don't get that, either. Especially with the "their/there/they're" and "your/you're" problems. I hate those!
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  • Profile picture of the author misterhu
    I agree with your first two resources. Better check the last resource to see how it can help people write especially with the popularity of article marketing.

    In terms of other writing problems, I believe its/it’s are also included with these confused terms.
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    • Profile picture of the author Rikki_Fawkes
      Originally Posted by misterhu View Post

      I agree with your first two resources. Better check the last resource to see how it can help people write especially with the popularity of article marketing.

      In terms of other writing problems, I believe its/it’s are also included with these confused terms.
      Again, it's more of a style and clarity issue - which is something many IM'ers struggle with. And it's blatantly obvious.

      In fact, case in point, the media company I work for demanded I read this book - and all they're interested in is SEO improvement. So it's very relevant.
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  • Profile picture of the author mikemcmillan
    Thanks Rikki, I'd never heard of the Jensen title but I'll check it out sometime. I also like William Zinsser's "On Writing Well". The part about cutting the fat out of writing and stripping it down to the bone is wonderful. Haven't mastered that skill myself yet, but I'm working on it.

    One thing I'm always amazed at is the fact that many of the $10,000 sales pages the big guys pay for to promote their products often contain a dozen or more glaring grammatical errors. Go figure. --Mike
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    • Profile picture of the author mcmahanusa
      Originally Posted by mikemcmillan View Post


      One thing I'm always amazed at is the fact that many of the $10,000 sales pages the big guys pay for to promote their products often contain a dozen or more glaring grammatical errors. Go figure. --Mike

      I've noticed the same thing. When someone is trying to sell me on their wonderful, success-creating product, it's hard to give much credence to it if they're either too cheap or too broke to hire a competent editor.
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      • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
        It pains me to say that the only one I'm familiar with #3 (E. B. White edition). I carried that little sucker around all through college.

        As for things the spell checker won't catch, I'd like to throw loser/looser into the pot...
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    • Profile picture of the author Lloyd Buchinski
      The one that I like is about as expensive as the 3 original suggestions put together, but I am totally impressed by 'The Chicago Manual of Style.' It is a bit massive, but straightforward and well organized. Finding things in it is much easier than getting around most websites.

      I have noticed writing jobs posted that specified following it.

      Originally Posted by mikemcmillan View Post

      The part about cutting the fat out of writing and stripping it down to the bone is wonderful. Haven't mastered that skill myself yet, but I'm working on it.
      My all time favorite writing quote is a big help with that.

      People think that I can teach them style. What stuff it all is. Have something to say and say it as clearly as you can. That is the only secret of style. - Mathew Arnold

      Just paying a little attention to simple and clear is such a big help getting rid of the clutter.

      I just realized that I put my second favorite writing quote in my sig today. There is a story to it and a point but I won't type that out right now.
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      • Profile picture of the author ccd
        One other book worth having is 'Woe Is I' by Patricia T. O'Conner. It has replaced 'Elements Of Style' as the first book I reach for when I have a grammer or punctuation question. (If only I weren't too lazy to reach for it every time I need it!)
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        • Profile picture of the author Rikki_Fawkes
          Originally Posted by ccd View Post

          One other book worth having is 'Woe Is I' by Patricia T. O'Conner. It has replaced 'Elements Of Style' as the first book I reach for when I have a grammer or punctuation question. (If only I weren't too lazy to reach for it every time I need it!)
          I'll have to look into that one. Regrettably, I don't get much time for book reading anymore, but if I can't write it off as business improvement, I can more easily afford it. Thanks for the suggestion!
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          • Profile picture of the author tpw
            Spell Checkers are unable to see past the spelling of a word...

            If you spell the word correctly, but use it in the wrong context, then the Spell Checker will be worthless to you...
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            • Profile picture of the author Rikki_Fawkes
              Originally Posted by tpw View Post

              Spell Checkers are unable to see past the spelling of a word...

              If you spell the word correctly, but use it in the wrong context, then the Spell Checker will be worthless to you...
              That's true, although Word will sometimes catch if you've used it in the wrong context based on the previous words - at least in Vista, anyway. And it never hurts to check anyway

              But yes, you're right for most circumstances.
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  • Profile picture of the author Paul Buckley
    My personal pet peeves:

    quite/quiet
    rogue/rouge

    ...and I prefer "dining" to "dinning".
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  • Profile picture of the author cindybidar
    Originally Posted by Joe.Mc View Post

    Personally I still find it hard to believe people have yet to figure out Microsoft Word has a spelling and grammar checker. Just run all your articles through that first, combine the results with a bit of common sense, you shouldn't have any problems.

    Edit: That isn't to say people won't benefit from the links you posted as well
    Spelling maybe, but the MS grammar checker leaves quite a bit to be desired.
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    • Profile picture of the author Rikki_Fawkes
      Originally Posted by Joe.Mc View Post

      That is where the "common sense" kicks in :p
      Exactly. Whatever happened to manually proofreading your materials? I realize it takes time, but if it keeps you from looking like a moron...
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      • Profile picture of the author ccd
        Originally Posted by Rikki_Fawkes View Post

        Exactly. Whatever happened to manually proofreading your materials? I realize it takes time, but if it keeps you from looking like a moron...
        Which I still manage to do on occasion even after proofreading oh so carefully!
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  • Profile picture of the author EvolBaby
    Nice references! I grew up on the AP and Gannett News Service stylebooks. Worked in newspapers for many years.

    You wouldn't believe the number of retired news writers and editors who don't know they could be making more money online than they did in the field.
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  • Profile picture of the author kenny5
    These are awesome, thanks for the good links. I'm sure a lot of struggling writers out there will get a lot of use out of these.
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  • Profile picture of the author Anoopchawla
    Rikki, out of all three books, I don't see any that is focused on Grammar.

    Jason's punctuation is only focused on punctuation or grammar as a whole?
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    • Profile picture of the author Rikki_Fawkes
      Originally Posted by Anoopchawla View Post

      Rikki, out of all three books, I don't see any that is focused on Grammar.

      Jason's punctuation is only focused on punctuation or grammar as a whole?
      I just PM'd you
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  • Profile picture of the author Colin Palfrey
    Hi Rikki,

    I find Grammarly - English grammar checker, proofreader & plagiarism scanner quite useful as it picks up contextual mistakes, and instead of just fixing them, explains the problem.

    I don't think spelling should really be an issue for a writer, but if you're in a rush mistakes can happen. That is precisely why an editorial phase is necessary in any written project, but unfortunately most people skip this step in favor of speed. Different horses for different courses I suppose.

    Regards,
    Colin Palfrey
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    • Profile picture of the author Rikki_Fawkes
      Originally Posted by Colin Palfrey View Post

      Hi Rikki,

      I find Grammarly - English grammar checker, proofreader & plagiarism scanner quite useful as it picks up contextual mistakes, and instead of just fixing them, explains the problem.

      I don't think spelling should really be an issue for a writer, but if you're in a rush mistakes can happen. That is precisely why an editorial phase is necessary in any written project, but unfortunately most people skip this step in favor of speed. Different horses for different courses I suppose.

      Regards,
      Colin Palfrey
      Hey, thanks for the suggestion. Yes - it's the contextual mistakes many of us make, and they're probably the hardest to catch.

      I find that typos are more of an issue than just plain spelling. This is true for a lot of writers, I imagine.
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  • Profile picture of the author Rough Outline
    I completly unagree, your fine with out all of thoose resauces, donot your fink?
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  • Profile picture of the author aspiepower
    lose/loose drives me mad!

    Fewer/less people know when to use fewer/less.



    Do you know?
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