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New York Public Library Writer's Guide To Style And Usage [Hardcover]

Andrea Sutcliffe
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 23 1994 0062700642 978-0062700643 1
The only up-to-date guide that addresses everyone who writes, from books and magazine features to newsletters, business reports, technical papers and brochures -- with information on how to use computers in every stage of publication.

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Product Description

From Library Journal

For years, the essential reference for writers, editors, book designers, proofreaders, indexers, and reference librarians in matters of style, publishing procedure, manuscript preparation, editing, typesetting, and usage has been the Chicago Manual of Style, first published in 1906 and now in its 14th edition (LJ 10/15/93). The title at hand is the most recent challenger to Chicago's dominance in the field. It seeks to set itself apart from the big orange book by including several chapters on grammar (Chicago doesn't treat grammar at all) and to court the nonprofessional writer and publisher by being less prescriptive and more flexible. Chicago essentially presents one style-its own. The New York Public Library Writer's Guide is a friendlier volume with 150 short sidebars on language and usage, including examples from William Safire, Norman Mailer, E.B. White, the Washington Post, and other popular and authoritative sources. Whether a volume like this is useful depends on the ease with which one can find the answers to the thousands of procedural questions that come up when putting words on a page for publication. Unfortunately, by including the grammar chapters and narrative side articles to little advantage, this work makes look-up more complicated, thereby diluting its usefulness. How many people will browse this book for pleasure? And anyone publishing something of length will still need to use a more comprehensive grammar reference. Its softer focus may make this guide more appealing for the home market, but the result is less useful as a manual. Stick to Chicago. You may also want to consider Marjorie Skillin's useful Words into Type.
Paul D'Alessandro, Portland P.L., Me.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

The purpose of this guide is to help new and experienced writers and editors navigate today's world of electronic publishing, beginning with the writing of first drafts and ending with the delivery of computer disks or camera-ready copy.

In five parts, the guide covers (1) current English usage, with special attention given to bias-free language and commonly misused or confused words; (2) grammar, with an emphasis on controversial issues and with many illustrated examples; (3) style, including lists of common abbreviations and a chapter on special characters in 19 different languages; (4) assembling and checking the manuscript, including a discussion of copyright and instructions for indexing; and (5) physical preparation of the manuscript. Information regarding computer-aided writing and production is provided in all relevant sections. A topically arranged, annotated bibliography of style manuals and dictionaries (many of which are referred to in appropriate sections of the book) and an index conclude the volume.

Written by the staff of an editorial and production services company and aided by writers, indexers, librarians, copyright attorneys, printers, and bookstore owners, this guide's nonprescriptive approach is unpretentious. Unlike The Chicago Manual of Style, which is geared toward professional and academic writers, the Writer's Guide is aimed at a wide audience, including students and business and technical writers. Through numerous sidebars and illustrative examples, it provides an entertaining context that has universal appeal (e.g., baseball and physics comprise the context for explaining levels of usage, a quote from Norman Mailer illustrates dangling participles).

The Writer's Guide does not take the place of discipline-specific style manuals such as the MLA Style Manual, the CBE Manual for Authors and Editors, or the ACS Style Guide. It is also not meant to take the place of usage dictionaries such as Webster's Dictionary of English Usage. Instead, it will supplement more scholarly writing guides and will be an invaluable resource for writers whose publishers do not require strict adherence to a particular style manual. Its commonsense approach to documentation will help even scholarly writers who cannot find examples of difficult referencing problems in their discipline-specific style manuals, and it will be the first (and often only) stop for other writers. The Writer's Guide will be heavily used in all libraries, it is an excellent purchase for homes in which there are writers, and it will be a reference-desk staple (especially for telephone reference queries).


Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Usage means, simply, the words we use and how we use them. Read the first page
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Concordance
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New York Discovers Common Sense Dec 18 2000
By A Customer
I have a stack of grammar books at hand on my desk, from the classic Strunk & White's The Elements of Style to the witty and wise books of Patricia T. O'Conner, grammar grinch of the New York Times. None is so comprehensive and usable as the NY Public Library's guide. From welcome advice about "bias-free usage" to "the essential comma," the Library Guide gives down-to-earth and much-needed commentary about the problems writers face every day. My favorite section is Misued and Easily Confused Words, worth reading for its entertainment value alone. I've been a professional writer for over 30 years and only wish I could have had this volume with me all that time. I've tried the rest, this is the best. I just bought my son, who is working on his first book, a copy for Christmas.
Was this review helpful to you?
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally! News you can use! Jan. 6 1999
By A Customer
As a professional writer and editor I have found this book to be the best resource for my everyday style and usage quandries. (And I have used several style guides.) It has been a great help in the last couple of months as I have been writing an editorial style guide for my employer. It's easy to navigate and provides information that can be understood by those of us who aren't rocket scientists. It also explains style and grammar issues and gives real-life examples.
Was this review helpful to you?
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Single Reference July 3 2002
By A Customer
I'm the author of several popular computer programming books that amazon sells. The problem is, I'm not really a very good writer; my background is all technical. My Copy Editor recommended this book as the single best reference -- better than the Chicago Manual of Style or others. An excellent choice!
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally! News you can use! Jan. 6 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
As a professional writer and editor I have found this book to be the best resource for my everyday style and usage quandries. (And I have used several style guides.) It has been a great help in the last couple of months as I have been writing an editorial style guide for my employer. It's easy to navigate and provides information that can be understood by those of us who aren't rocket scientists. It also explains style and grammar issues and gives real-life examples.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New York Discovers Common Sense Dec 18 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
I have a stack of grammar books at hand on my desk, from the classic Strunk & White's The Elements of Style to the witty and wise books of Patricia T. O'Conner, grammar grinch of the New York Times. None is so comprehensive and usable as the NY Public Library's guide. From welcome advice about "bias-free usage" to "the essential comma," the Library Guide gives down-to-earth and much-needed commentary about the problems writers face every day. My favorite section is Misued and Easily Confused Words, worth reading for its entertainment value alone. I've been a professional writer for over 30 years and only wish I could have had this volume with me all that time. I've tried the rest, this is the best. I just bought my son, who is working on his first book, a copy for Christmas.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Single Reference July 3 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
I'm the author of several popular computer programming books that amazon sells. The problem is, I'm not really a very good writer; my background is all technical. My Copy Editor recommended this book as the single best reference -- better than the Chicago Manual of Style or others. An excellent choice!
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "Jargon may be appropriate in specialized or technical writing where it is." Oct. 10 2012
By Don Reed - Published on Amazon.com
This is a composite review of "The CEO of The Sofa," by humorist P.J. O'Rourke (Atlantic Monthly Press, 2001); & "The New York Public Library Writer's Guide to Style & Usage," Andrea Sutcliffe, Editor (HarperCollinsPublishers, 1994).

***

CEO is just barely a keeper, & at the time, an expensive disappointment - list price, eleven years ago, $25 (hard-cover edition). And the asinine title!

Serving mainly as a rueful reminder that great punch lines/witticisms alone can't bail out a book devoid of a coherent, compelling theme, it does have its radiant moments.

Re: President Clinton's 1999 impeachment (after which time, Wild Bill was tagged & released back into the wild, a free man):

"And some earnest souls went so far as to aver that impeachment distracted [him] from... raising taxes, destroying health care, appointing 1960s bakeheads to high political office, soliciting felonious campaign contributions, hanging friends out to dry for Arkansas real estate frauds...

"Leading foreign policy back into the flea circus of Jimmy Carterism, having phone sex, groping patronage seekers, & snapping the elastic on the underpants of psychologically disturbed school-age White House interns entrusted with the task of delivering high-level government pizza."

And in reviewing the "Guidelines for Bias-Free Writing by Marilyn Schwartz & the Task Force on Bias-Free Language," O'Row notes that Guidelines states, "Our aim is simply to encourage sensitivity to usages that may be imprecise, misleading & needlessly offensive."

We pause to admire the vigorous, sweeping title of the pencil-editing & pushing group, "The Task Force..." If you ask me, it simply radiates a muscular tone of unchallengeable authority.

Which doesn't quite square with their humble suggestion that they merely strive to provide "encouragement," because when I think of civilian "Task Forces," I associate the designation with outfits such as the IRS.

Maybe there's a footnote somewhere in the Guidelines that can resolve this discrepancy.

At any rate, PJO is stumped as to how, in accordance with Task Force rules, Schwartz can be correctly referred to. This really shouldn't take long, or pose difficulties, but you probably saw this coming down the pike a week ago:

"The principle author of the text, Ms. Schwartz - (I apologize)..." - PJO has unwittingly (yet, insensitively) violated Section 1.41, lines 4-5;

"The principle author of the text, Schwartz - (No, I'm afraid that won't do)..." This imprecise usage offputs, according to Section 1.41, lines 23-25;

"Mrs. or Miss Marilyn Schwartz (Gee, I'm sorry)..." - Ixnayed by Section 1.41, lines 1-2;

"Anyway, as I was saying, Ms. Schwartz - (Excuse me...)." Stepped in it again! "Ms." is a double no-no, a repeat offender - as stated in 1.41, Lines 7-9.

"So Marilyn - (Oops)..." - Needlessly offensive addresses are politely prohibited by Section 1.42, lines 1-3;

Oh, the hell with it.

"Nevertheless, the principle author - what's her face - "

But nothing in CEO matches the sustained comedic brilliance of O'Rourke's "Parliament of Whores" (1992) or "Eat The Rich" (1998) - or has the impact of his succinct & tragic masterpiece, "An Inquiry into the Nature of Good & Evil" (in his "Age & Guile Beat Youth, Innocence & A Bad Haircut" - an otherwise empathically NOT recommended "best of" clip book).

***

Similar questionable guidelines can be found in the astronomically expensive "New York Public Library's Guide to Style & Usage" (1994), purchased in a moment of misguided altruism at the time I was re-attending school at NYU in the 1990's.

Being a book primarily addressing the requirements of editing, I wasn't impressed with what was immediately seen at the bottom of page 7:

"Jargon may be appropriate in specialized or technical writing where it is."

That's it. The rest of the sentence doesn't exist. (Yes, it would be a complete sentence, & a perfectly good one, if the writer hadn't tacked on the flagrantly redundant "where it is.")

Perhaps the rest of the sentence continues on the next page? No. Page 8 commences with a related subject, "The Curveball, from Six Viewpoints."

Disregarding the spectre of a baseball player with six heads swinging at a curveball, what hit me was the impossibility of - having only edited the first seven pages of a manuscript - an editor (Andrea Sutcliffe, take a bow) failing to notice what is either an incomplete sentence or rank verbosity.

But there it was - nowhere nearly as bad as, but definitely a reminder of an infamous 1980's New York Times Sunday Magazine front cover, with the first word of its text - "The" - misspelt (I so do regret that, at the time, getting that cover framed was beyond my means).

A decade later, I did change my tune about Style & Usage, at least to some extent, when I was struggling through Daniel Okrent's ridiculously verbose "Great Fortune" (2003).

S&U guided me to one reason why Okrent's promiscuous use of the phrase, "Not only... but also," was driving me nuts:

"Some writers not only get hooked on not only... but also but also overuse it, leading to a loss of effectiveness, as this sentence itself shows."

Not only do you alienate the reader, but you also alienate the reader.

Okrent isn't unique. NotOnlyButAlso Disease is just about everywhere.

(Andrea, may I tack on a "where it is," at the end of the above sentence?)

Caroline Moorehead, author of a recent, regrettable biographical mess, "Dancing to the Precipice" (2009), has never met a Not Only that she didn't But Also like.

Even one of my favorites - the tough, disciplined journalist & biographer Virginia Cowles - proved to be all too susceptible to the allure of this cheap narrative gimmick, in her "The Romanovs" (1971).

Hackers versed in the art of word & phrase reversal are encouraged to infiltrate computers worldwide, for the benefit of the following humanitarian mission:

"Also But Only Not" would look great in every book published for the next five or ten years.

*****

Less than 24 hours after this was posted, in the N.Y. Daily News:

"Joe Girardi did the uthinkable [sic]. Raul Ibanez did the highly unlikely."

--- The lead sentence in a sports article written by Mark Feinsand about Ibanez - a pinch-hitter for the N.Y. Yankees, batting for the benched scoundrel who had bankrupted the Texas Rangers baseball franchise merely by cashing his paychecks - hitting two homers in a playoff game (Yanks beat the Orioles, 3-2, on 10/10/12).
4.0 out of 5 stars Delivery Feb. 16 2014
By Linda Hales - Published on Amazon.com
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