Writing Guides

Written by Helen Glenn Court
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Online writing guides are an excellent solution for those who want to improve their writing skills but haven't the time to attend classes, whether in a classroom, at a seminar, or on the Internet. There are workshops available that take some of the sting out of traditional learning settings. A simpler method is to search for simple online writing guides to guide you; some quality ones can be found for free.

The point is ready access to authoritative sources on language--grammar, punctuation, spelling, usage, and style--when it's needed. Excellent communications skills in what seems to be earmarked as the communication age are critical. The last thing anyone in the marketplace can afford is loss of credibility for something as simple as mistakenly using affect instead of effect, or then instead of than.

We've gotten lazy since the onset of word processing software and electronic information management systems. While they're impressive from a programming standpoint, the spell checkers and grammar checkers built into Microsoft Office and Corel's WordPerfect have done the workplace more harm than good. We assume, even though we know better, that they're low profile writing guides with the wisdom to perceive human error. The difference, for example, between decisive and derisive is, after all, only one letter.

Recommended Writing Guides

The simplest, most slender, and least expensive of the writing guides on the market is also probably one of the best known. Now in its fourth edition, Strunk and White's The Elements of Style is invaluable. The Chicago Manual of Style, in its 15th edition, is both a literary classic and the most comprehensive guide to writing, grammar, syntax, usage, and punctuation that the United States offers. But there are many resources, both in print and online. The point is to make use of them on a regular basis.

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