How to write in style

Have you ever wondered if you are following the rules of grammar, punctuation, spelling, and style when you write? Perhaps you have an editor to take care of such things so you don't have to stress about it too much. But for those of us stuck in the never-ending loop of rewriting and editing our own work, here are some great style guides to know about and to have on hand for easy reference.

As we all know, writing the first draft of anything is often the toughest battle. Just keeping your bum in a seat long enough to finish writing a chapter is cause enough to celebrate. But the rewriting and editing phases are equally important. Thankfully, there are some great style manuals out there to help guide you through the process.

The Chicago Manual of Style

A great manual providing recommendations on editorial style and publishing practices for the digital age. You can purchase the hard copy or sign up for a digital subscription (which I've done) so you can use it anytime, anywhere. CMS also has a great Chicago Style Q&A that you can have emailed to you once a month as an easy way to learn from other people's style questions

Canadian Oxford Dictionary 

It's easy to underrate the usefulness of a dictionary by thinking it's only good for checking spelling (and who needs that when Word will do it for you!). But a good dictionary will contain all kinds of great information including a style guide, weights and measurements, historical figures and places, and standard abbreviations.

The Elements of Style by Strunk and White

A classic style manual well known in the writing world. While it is a bit dated, it offers valuable advice on English style and has helped millions of readers over the years.

Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss

A hilarious take on the sometimes stuffy English language, the book teaches you how to be a better writer while examining the funny results of bad writing. 

How Grammar Works by Patricia Osborn

An easy-to-read, self-teaching guide on English grammar.  

The Little English Handbook for Canadians by Bell and Corbett

A pocket-sized guide on English grammar and style that works as a handy little reference book. 

The Copy-editor's Handbook by Amy Einsohn

A practical guide for any newbie to writing, editing, and publishing.  


So there you have it! Now you can write in style by following any one of these guide. Happy writing and editing, everyone! 


Stacey D. Atkinson is the author of Stuck, a novel she published via her independent company Mirror Image Publishing.  

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