For many of us, business writing can be a stumbling block on the road to professional success. Fortunately, you can keep a number of excellent references handy to help you become the office Hemingway. Here are a few suggestions.
The Business Style Handbook: An A-to-Z Guide for Writing on the Job with Tips from Communications Experts at the Fortune 500
by Helen Cunningham and Brenda Greene
This is a practical and comprehensive guide that focuses specifically on writing issues that frequently arise on the job. It includes advice from Fortune 500 communications executives on improving writing style, a chapter on sending effective emails and more than 1,200 alphabetized entries that cover the essentials of style, usage, grammar and more. This book is an invaluable resource for writing reports, memos, proposals, emails and other business correspondence.
"Not only is this a good general writing resource, but it also explains things in a cultural context, so I always recommend this guide to anyone coming to work here from another country," says Kim Doi, a New-York based administrative assistant. "It's also available in Chinese.
Effective Business Writing: A Guide for Those Who Write on the Job
by Maryann V. Piotrowski
The next time you're struggling to find just the right words for a memo or letter, reach for this useful guide to writing clearly and in an appropriate format, style and tone. Numerous examples demonstrate how to overcome writer's block, organize messages for maximum impact, achieve an easy-to-read style and find an efficient writing system.
The Elements of Business Writing: A Guide to Writing Clear, Concise Letters, Memos, Reports, Proposals, and Other Business Documents
by Gary Blake and Robert W. Bly
Whether you're working on an interoffice memo or a 50-page proposal, this guide explains how to write clearly and powerfully, steers you clear of jargon in your writing and helps you organize your writing material effectively.
Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
by Lynne Truss
This witty but educational book was both number 1 in the UK and a New York Times best seller. It's not just a grammar book, but also a self-help book for writers that, according to the author, "gives you permission to love punctuation."
"I've been suspicious of punctuation my whole life, and this book finally helped me to make friends with commas and semicolons," says Jason Bergund, an executive assistant in New York.
The Elements of Style
by William Strunk and E. B. White
A fundamental resource for writers, editors and students since 1959, the slim volume known simply as "Strunk and White" distills the combined wisdom of Cornell University English professor William Strunk Jr. and legendary New Yorker writer and author E. B. White. This book concentrates on the rules of word usage and principles of composition most commonly violated.
"I've used this guide since I was writing papers in college, and I still find it to be the best style guide around," says Aubyn Peterson, an executive assistant in New York. "Strunk and White never let me down.
The New Well-Tempered Sentence: A Punctuation Handbook for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doomed
by Karen Gordon
This book will teach you, clearly and simply where to place a comma and how to use an apostrophe. And as you master the elusive slashes, dots and dashes that express our most perplexing thoughts, you will find yourself in the grip of a comedy of manners. This book is entertaining as well as informative.
The Gregg Reference Manual: A Manual of Style, Grammar, Usage, and Formatting
by William A. Sabin
This text is intended for anyone who writes, edits or prepares material for distribution or publication. It is especially useful for business professionals and students.