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Easy reading is damn
– Nathaniel Hawthorne
There’s a mass of advice out there for aspiring writers. Far too much. And a lot of
it is aimed at writers of fiction, which is not much use if your job is conveying facts.
The Web can be useful (you’re using it now!) but books are generally more reliable
and often more convenient unless your computer has more than one screen.
Two titles stand out: they are complementary and it would be good to get both.
Strunk and White dates back to 1918 – yes, that’s 1918, although of course it’s been revised a few times – but has never been beaten as a guide to the craft of clear writing. It’s a short book with a long reach.
Burchfield, on the other hand, is a fat book full of the fine detail of words and phrases, answering every question you can imagine, and quite a few you can’t, about “correct” English (and he has a lot to say about whether there really is such a thing).
But you can’t ignore the Web. Here are a few of the sites I have found useful.