If I had to identify a single person who first inspired my love of language, it would be Bryan Garner. This is the third edition of his usage dictionary,
and through this book and other
books, he has risen to prominence
as one of the most trusted and
quoted authorities on modern English
and how we—the owners of modern
English—use it, abuse it, and change
the course of its direction.
Jeff Deck and his buddy live out a dream of mine: They travel cross-country with a typo correction kit, fixing people’s public mistakes. Even better than that,
Deck strikes up some pretty interesting
discussions about English, its evolution,
the point (and pointlessness) of its long
list of impossible-to-remember rules,
and the failure of American education.
It’s an entertaining read for anyone
who's looking for some rousing discourse
on the English language.
From the website’s homepage: “This is a map of the wheel-ruts of modern English. Etymologies are not definitions; they're explanations of what our words meant and how they sounded 600 or 2,000 years ago.” If you’re fascinated with word origins and the path English has taken from old to middle to modern, then you’ll enjoy getting lost on this website.
Nicknamed CMOS, this thick volume sits
on the desk of every serious editor. It
contains all standards and rules for book
publishing, and it's what I follow for
most fiction and nonfiction that I edit.
CMOS tells you how to assemble a
manuscript to prepare it for publication,
demonstrates proper citation style, and
includes a great chapter on English usage
written by Bryan Garner, arguably today's
foremost expert on English language usage. There's also a fully searchable version online that includes the editors' answers to readers' questions as well as a discussion forum.
The full title is Lapsing Into a
Comma: A Curmudgeon's
Guide to the Many Things
That Can Go Wrong in Print—
and How to Avoid Them.
That about sums it up. It was
written by the Washington
Post's Bill Walsh, who was
definitely a curmudgeon but also really happened to know what he was talking about.
Other resources I refer to regularly include: The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA), The APA Style Blog, New Oxford American Dictionary,Bryson's Dictionary for Writers and Editors, and this great website called Google.
This is the bible of the newspaper industry, and it's what I refer to when editing magazine articles and press releases. A new print edition comes out every year, but the online version is updated continually. The online version also is fully
searchable, and search results
include both AP Stylebook
entries and editors' responses
to users' questions. I pay a little
extra for my online subscription
and get full access to Webster's
New World Dictionary, which is
The Grammar Geek