From Library Journal
For years, the essential reference for writers, editors, book designers, proofreaders, indexers, and reference librarians in matters of style, publishing procedure, manuscript preparation, editing, typesetting, and usage has been the Chicago Manual of Style, first published in 1906 and now in its 14th edition (LJ 10/15/93). The title at hand is the most recent challenger to Chicago's dominance in the field. It seeks to set itself apart from the big orange book by including several chapters on grammar (Chicago doesn't treat grammar at all) and to court the nonprofessional writer and publisher by being less prescriptive and more flexible. Chicago essentially presents one style-its own. The New York Public Library Writer's Guide is a friendlier volume with 150 short sidebars on language and usage, including examples from William Safire, Norman Mailer, E.B. White, the Washington Post, and other popular and authoritative sources. Whether a volume like this is useful depends on the ease with which one can find the answers to the thousands of procedural questions that come up when putting words on a page for publication. Unfortunately, by including the grammar chapters and narrative side articles to little advantage, this work makes look-up more complicated, thereby diluting its usefulness. How many people will browse this book for pleasure? And anyone publishing something of length will still need to use a more comprehensive grammar reference. Its softer focus may make this guide more appealing for the home market, but the result is less useful as a manual. Stick to Chicago. You may also want to consider Marjorie Skillin's useful Words into Type.
Paul D'Alessandro, Portland P.L., Me.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
The purpose of this guide is to help new and experienced writers and editors navigate today's world of electronic publishing, beginning with the writing of first drafts and ending with the delivery of computer disks or camera-ready copy.
In five parts, the guide covers (1) current English usage, with special attention given to bias-free language and commonly misused or confused words; (2) grammar, with an emphasis on controversial issues and with many illustrated examples; (3) style, including lists of common abbreviations and a chapter on special characters in 19 different languages; (4) assembling and checking the manuscript, including a discussion of copyright and instructions for indexing; and (5) physical preparation of the manuscript. Information regarding computer-aided writing and production is provided in all relevant sections. A topically arranged, annotated bibliography of style manuals and dictionaries (many of which are referred to in appropriate sections of the book) and an index conclude the volume.
Written by the staff of an editorial and production services company and aided by writers, indexers, librarians, copyright attorneys, printers, and bookstore owners, this guide's nonprescriptive approach is unpretentious. Unlike The Chicago Manual of Style, which is geared toward professional and academic writers, the Writer's Guide is aimed at a wide audience, including students and business and technical writers. Through numerous sidebars and illustrative examples, it provides an entertaining context that has universal appeal (e.g., baseball and physics comprise the context for explaining levels of usage, a quote from Norman Mailer illustrates dangling participles).
The Writer's Guide does not take the place of discipline-specific style manuals such as the MLA Style Manual, the CBE Manual for Authors and Editors, or the ACS Style Guide. It is also not meant to take the place of usage dictionaries such as Webster's Dictionary of English Usage. Instead, it will supplement more scholarly writing guides and will be an invaluable resource for writers whose publishers do not require strict adherence to a particular style manual. Its commonsense approach to documentation will help even scholarly writers who cannot find examples of difficult referencing problems in their discipline-specific style manuals, and it will be the first (and often only) stop for other writers. The Writer's Guide will be heavily used in all libraries, it is an excellent purchase for homes in which there are writers, and it will be a reference-desk staple (especially for telephone reference queries).
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