Do you know the difference between an em dash and an en dash? Or when you should spell out numbers and when you should write the numerals? Do you care? If you answers were no, no, and yes, then I have a book for you. It is part narrative and part reference book, and the type of thing that I want to have at the office for business writing and at home for things like Cannonball Read reviews and personal blog posts. It’s functional and easy to navigate, although it is a bit dry.
I can’t remember where I got this one – probably at the local bookstore that I need to avoid most days if I don’t want to drop $50 on books I never knew I needed or wanted. As I mentioned in an earlier review this summer, I write a lot. Most of what I do at work involves writing plans that other people need to understand; at home I write for fun and am currently working on my first book (that some day future Cannonballers might read and review – a girl can dream). I’m not an editor, so I probably didn’t need this book, but I do think it will improve my writing.
It’s a logically organized book, with sections on each punctuation symbol, from the comma all the way down to the aforementioned em dash. The chapters give overviews of the different functions and then breaks down usage by type of writing. So, in the colon chapter you’ll learn how to use a colon to introduce lists, as well as its function in writing out time or ratios. The different types of writing included are book, academic, scientific and news, with the suggestion that folks use news style for business writing and blogs. For pedants like me, it’s fascinating to see all the nuances of language, including disagreements about usage (that damn Oxford comma!) or decisions that seemingly don’t make sense.
Is this book going to change your life? No. But it’s interesting and useful, and I know I’ll be consulting it regularly.