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Great Books for Savvy Communicators

Seven Great Books for Savvy Communicators

To boost the professionalism of your business messages, there’s nothing better than enrolling in a high quality workshop or seminar. But what do you do later on to hone those newly acquired skills? Easy! Turn to the bookshelf. You’ll find superb resources that reinforce valuable lessons about effective oral and written communication.  Here are top picks—authoritative works that motivate,  educate and entertain.

1. The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White

Filled with relevant advice, this slim volume is the one of the oldest, shortest and most eloquent books on writing.  Follow Strunk and White’s straightforward advice and you’ll never go  wrong.  1) Omit needless words. 2) Observe grammar rules. 2) Write active, concise sentences. 4) Don’t confuse similar words.  5) Have a  plan and stick to it.   Crisp, stimulating and eternally relevant, the book is one you’ll want to reread and give to friends.

2. The Gregg Reference Manual  (9th edition) by William A. Sabin
In this comprehensive yet  manageable guide, Sabin clarifies the basic rules for all writing as well as the puzzling fine points.  Lucid essays  in  the  preface  tackle  gray areas  like capitalization and comma use. In three sections (Grammar, Document Techniques and Formats, and References), clear explanations are amply bolstered by examples and models. Readers can  find  solutions for virtually every writing problem. Adding to its usefulness is a numbered index that makes every piece of information easy to find.

3. Guide to Managerial Communication by Mary Munter
An introductory chapter about strategies for communication lays the groundwork for Mary Munter’s guide to effective business writing and speaking. In it she emphasizes the strategic role of five variables: communicator,  audience,  message,  channel and  culture.  Remaining chapters are divided equally between written  and oral communication.  Making good use of charts to sort and chunk information, Munter illustrates how to tackle  processes such as  writing in groups, editing in stages, designing visuals aids, and choosing a suitable presentation style.

4.  Woe is I      by Patricia T. O’Conner
Sensible, amusing and contemporary, the book is billed as “the grammarphobe’s guide to better English in plain English.” With chapter titles like “Comma Sutra” and  “Verbal Abuse,” O’Conner has found the way to untangle knotty issues without using a lot of jargon. If you’re eager to know about clichés to avoid  (like “cutting edge” or “few and far between”),  words that don’t mean what most people think (like “decimate” and “eclectic”), and tricks for deciding between common pairs (like “who” and “whom”), you’re sure to value and enjoy O’Conner’s  take on grammar.

5. Business Writing: What Works, What Won’t  by Wilma Davidson

This primer for job writing  is a practical tool for upgrading business messages. Special features: advice for overcoming writer’s block,  cartoons driving home the point that  ambiguous language creates havoc,  and an appendix containing a wide  range of sample documents. Unlike other dispensers of writing advice, Davidson encourages using an appropriate dose of humor.

6. Dictionary of Confusing Words  and Meanings by Adrian Room

This highly readable reference is devoted exclusively to confused words – more than 3000 entries. The author distinguishes between those with similar sounds like “discomfit” and “discomfort” or “tortuous” and “torturous” as well as between dissimilar yet related words such as  “gnat” and “mosquito” or “i.e.”. and “e.g.” Elucidating!

7. There Is No Zoo in Zoology and other beastly mispronunciations by Charles Harrington Elster
Here are 400+ words commonly mis- pronounced even by the highly educated. You may be surprised to find that “forte” has only one syllable,  that “harass” can be accented  on either syllable, or that  “victuals” is pronounced “vittles,” unrelated to its spelling! The book instructs and delights readers—whether expert communicators or simply lovers of the language.

 

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Unless otherwise attributed, all material is written and edited by Susan B. Kline. Copyright © Susan B. Kline 2011. All Rights Reserved. I invite you to reprint material from this website for educational purposes, provided this copyright notice ("Written and edited by Susan B. Kline, © Susan B. Kline [year]. All Rights Reserved.") and a link to sbkline.com is included in the credits.

 

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