Write Right! A Desktop Digest of Punctuation, Grammar, and Style

By Parish, Tracy | Career Planning and Adult Development Journal, Winter 2006 | Go to article overview

Write Right! A Desktop Digest of Punctuation, Grammar, and Style


Parish, Tracy, Career Planning and Adult Development Journal


Write Right! A Desktop Digest of Punctuation, Grammar, and Style (4th Edition) by Jan Venolia 2001. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press 209 pages, Softcover, $12.95

Intended Audience: All

Major Headings from Table of Contents:

Why All the Fuss? The Basics; The Tools of Writing; The Craft of Writing; Resources; Frequently Misspelled Words; Glossary; Bibliography; Websites; Index.

How is the book most useful for its intended audience?

As the subtitle states, this book is a vital resource guide for punctuation, grammar, and style. This applies to anyone who corresponds with other people, meaning almost everyone. It contains a gold mine of information to make your communications shine!

The top five things you learned from reading this book:

Brush up on grammar and grammatical terms, this time really remembering and understanding them. Punctuation is vital, especially with the easy-to-remember quotes and tips. Proper use of the English language and avoiding the "ho-hum" or sloppy approach. Sorting out confusing pairs like "affect" and "effect." Avoiding redundant expressions, which are much more common than you might realize.

When I first picked up the book, I thought, "Great, another b-o-r-i-n-g grammar book," but boy was I in for a surprise! Not only was the book fun and entertaining to read, but because it was, the rules stuck. Throughout the book are whimsical (and extremely relevant) illustrations, quotes, and sayings that captivate and hold your interest; you, learn in spite of the entertainment and practically without knowing it! Research shows that the more a person's senses are involved with their learning, the higher the retention of the information. Jan Venolia has done a tremendous job of letting the reader be involved with visual, audible, and interactive approaches throughout the book, turning what could be another dry grammar book into an exciting learning adventure.

In today's fast-service, short-cut, "any thing-goes" world, the truly distinguished business leader will use polished prose to make his point. By replacing ho-hum writing with a style full of clarity and precision, you can get your point across much more effectively to the reader and stand out, head and shoulders, above the rest. The author notes that the richness and variety of the English language are under siege and need to be carefully preserved. She warns that sloppy and broadly adapted misuse of the English language should NOT constitute a change in the rules.

This comprehensive 200-page book should be a "must" for every desk in America or, at least, for those who write any correspondence. Written in an easy-to-reference format, this book is broken into three parts that cover "The Basics," "The Tools of Writing," and "The Craft of Writing." In part one is a review of terms to help the reader understand the rules. Part two consists of grammar, punctuation, and copyediting. Part three rounds it out with various aspects of the final product. It helps the reader avoid using the wrong word and assists in polishing the finished piece to a sterling shine. Best of all, each chapter starts out with a brief paragraph explaining how the subject presented applies to real-life situations.

"When you have trouble getting the commas right, chances are you're trying to patch up a poorly structured sentence. …

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