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on May 11, 2001
This book is fantastic. It's only about 200 pages, but densely packed with useful information, and every single page deserves careful study. The glossary of commonly confused words at the end is worth 10$ all by itself.
This is not a grammar book (though there is an appendix that gives an overview of English grammar). It is a book designed to improve your writing. It helps you make solid decisions about sentence structure, placing punctuation, and choosing the right words. This book can help guide you through some of the thorniest and most subjective aspects of writing English.
One of the neatest things about this book is that, in addition to the copious examples, the text itself serves as an example of excellent writing. Perhaps the major drawback is that after reading this book, you will end up being much more critical of the writing you encounter!
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I think my Four Stars are misleading. It is worth Five, if you account for the price and market of the book.
"Line by Line : How to Improve Your Own Writing" provides solid information on editing your own writing and therefore, improving your writing for professionals needs, but it doesn't meet my needs as a communications professional. Writers, in general, will find this a worthy tome, but as a professional copy editing my coworkers and clients I think you'll find this a bit limited in scope.
For the price, "Line by Line : How to Improve Your Own Writing" can't be beat, but I recommend spending a few more dollars on a more thorough text. Check out, instead, an Associated Press Manual of Style and far more meatier text, like "Copy Editing For Professionals" by Rooney and Witte. You'll pay many times more the price, but in the long haul, you'll be glad you did.
I recommend "Line by Line : How to Improve Your Own Writing" but with reservations.
Anthony Trendl
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on July 18, 1998
In 1985 I was a consultant and had to write a report on my findings for a client. I knew that my writing was not all that good, and since I was being paid a considerable sum to write the report I felt it should be written well.
Just at that time an ad in the New Yorker magazine caught my eye. It showed two columns side by side, one, the length of the page, the other, a quarter of the page. I read the ad and sure enough the first column was just like my writing, the second was crisp, to the point, and much more interesting to read. The headline said something to the effect of "how to take the first and turn it into the second".
I ordered the book and read it immediately. The first three chapters excited me so, I could hardly contain myself. It explained so clearly how I had to think about what I was writing, I felt I saw the light.
From that day on I took a whole different view of writing. It turned a task that I usually dreaded into something that I no! w love. Not that I am a great writer, but I feel confident that I can express myself well in my business and personal life. I feel that what I write is clear and easy to read. This has been very valuable to me as a businessman. I have written marketing material, technical manuals, company communications, and customer letters. Without this skill I know I would not have been nearly as successful and would have missed out on a great pleasure in life.
Well, I gave the book to my daughter when she went to college and I lost touch with it. A few years ago I wanted to locate it again but didn't know the title or author. The other day I suddenly got the idea that might help me find it. All I remembered was the year I saw the ad for the book and that a woman wrote it.
So I started to search and in less than 3 minutes I thought I had found it. I ordered it and sure enough it was Line by Line. When I got it in the mail I was so excited, I felt I had met up with a long los! t friend. I just ordered several more copies that I will sh! are with my staff because writing is one of the most important skills needed in today's business environment.
I recommend this book to anyone who wants to make writing a part of his or her everyday life. It is wonderful!
By the way, I was proud of the report I wrote and the customer loved it too.
And thanks, you found a long lost friend of mine.
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on September 19, 1997
Absolutely fabulous work designed to help you edit your own writing. It's that perspective that distinguishes Line by Line from anything else. What should you look for in revising your sentences. What is good grammatical structure, proper punctuation, etc. The book should achieve the status of a classic -- it is that good
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on July 13, 1998
As an editor, I have shelves of books on the subject. This book remains my favorite. Once you get bored with editing books that read like a high school grammer, check this book out. It brings you to a more refined level of editing.
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on July 30, 2014
Excellent book. Concise and to the point.
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on June 1, 2009
I should begin by saying I was looking for a book on how to shorten, pare down or otherwise condense text. This book was not what I was seeking (no fault of the book, I was too quick to click).

This book helps with gramatical structure of text, and if that is what you are seeking, it is fabulous. It will not, however, help you write "in 5 words or less".
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on October 20, 2013
It seems just Ok. Have not yet fully made use of it. Hopefully it will meet my requirement as go through it
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on January 15, 2016
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on February 1, 1999
This book attracted me the second I saw it. I found it to be very helpful, especially the main points the author makes (about wordy sentences, and bad writing). It is very helpful in seeing your own mistakes, for those of us without a copy editor of our own.
There are a few imperfections I would like to mention though. The author began to bore me after repeated examples after examples after the 1st chapter. Though the book itself is an example of good writing, the author uses the word "But" to start of sentences.
Another example of books being just a guide and not a codification of absolute rules, is the author's condemnation of pronoun use in one particular sentence. What the author does not know is the tradition and fact that actors are supposed to refer to their characters AS IF the actor was referring to himself (the author, unaware of common knowledge, criticises one actress for doing this.)
The grammar usage reference at the end of the book is very helpful. It is proper to note one failing, the unnecessary entries which normal people should be aware of. For example, she writes that the proper use of the word "Dilemma" involves a choice of "two assumptions" to a difficult problem. She also takes the time to say that the words "verbal" and "oral" are different (one is words, one refers to the spoken word). My response is: who does not know these obvious facts, and why are they reading an intellectual book on writing? It is rather superfluous.
But I give this 5 stars because it succeeds in its goal, small questions of perfection aside.
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