Books about Writing
There are many good sources of advice for writers. Our favorite book is Zinsser's (1985) On Writing Well, which is also available on audio tape (Zinsser 1991). The Elements of Style by Strunk and White (2000) is a classic that should be on everyone's bookshelf. Additional sources of advice cited below include books by Lederer and Dowis (1995) and Williams (2000).
Throw out your thesaurus, and get a copy of The Synonym Finder by J. I. Rodale (Urdang and LaRoche 1978). This is truly the writer's best friend. Writers in the know simply talk about "reaching for their Rodale."
RP's reference for formal writing and the preparation of manuscripts for publication is The Chicago Manual of Style (University of Chicago Press 2003). For spelling, we refer to Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (Merriam-Webster 2003).
Lederer and Dowis (1999, p. 62) note that the ten most common word confusions are, in order of frequency, lie/lay, fewer/less, different from/different than, amount/number, compose/comprise, farther/further, disinterested/uninterested, affect/effect, imply/infer, and among/between. They show how these words are properly used. For those who prefer a dictionary approach, Merriam-Webster's Concise Dictionary of English Usage (2002) may be found at many bookstores.
Click here for a list of reference works.