Book review: Plain Language and Ethical Action

Clear communication advocates are used to telling prospective clients about the practical benefits—the savings in time, money, and effort—of plain language. But many plain language practitioners (and I’m among them) are motivated by more than the efficiency and expediency of a clear message. To us, demanding clarity and plain language is an overtly political act … Continue reading “Book review: Plain Language and Ethical Action

Book review: The Sense of Style

We humans have been speaking for a lot longer than we’ve been writing, which is why the former comes to us so much more naturally. When we write, explains Steven Pinker in The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century, the physical and temporal distance between us and our audience … Continue reading “Book review: The Sense of Style

Book review: Supercommunicator: Explaining the Complicated So Anyone Can Understand

Frank J. Pietrucha is a communications specialist whose company, Definitive Communications, specializes in making highly technical topics accessible and meaningful to different audiences. It counts among its clients the International Intellectual Property Institute and NASA’s Ames Research Center. Pietrucha’s book, Supercommunicator, was published by AMACOM, the book-publishing division of the American Management Association, and I … Continue reading “Book review: Supercommunicator: Explaining the Complicated So Anyone Can Understand

Book review: Starting an Indexing Business

You’ve taken indexing courses. Read the indexing chapter of the Chicago Manual of Style and Nancy Mulvaney’s Indexing Books. Bought yourself indexing software. Now what? For most would-be indexers hoping to start their own freelancing business (as many of us are now aware), the actual indexing work isn’t the biggest challenge. Getting that work, not … Continue reading “Book review: Starting an Indexing Business

Book review: The Employer’s Guide to Hiring Freelancers and Managing Outsourced Projects

Jim Coutu is an arbitrator who works with freelance job sites; essentially he’s a judge in what he calls “project divorce court.” When a project goes sour, it’s his job to pore over correspondence between the client and freelancer, interpreting often vague contracts to figure out who ultimately gets the money. In other words, he’s … Continue reading “Book review: The Employer’s Guide to Hiring Freelancers and Managing Outsourced Projects

Book review: Editor-Proof Your Writing

If you fireproof your home, you protect it from the ravages of flames and heat, right? I wondered if that was the connotation Don McNair had in mind when he titled his book Editor-Proof Your Writing: 21 Steps to the Clear Prose Publishers and Agents Crave. Was he implying that editors will muck up your … Continue reading “Book review: Editor-Proof Your Writing

Book review: Quite Literally

Journalist Wynford Hicks first published Quite Literally: Problem Words and How to Use Them in 2004, but the paperback edition became available only in the last year. Focusing on British English, this book is part usage dictionary, part writing and grammar guide, and part vocabulary builder. Hicks begins by acknowledging the divide between prescriptivists and descriptivists … Continue reading “Book review: Quite Literally

Book review: Indexing and Retrieval of Non-Text Information

This review appeared in the Spring 2013 issue of Bulletin, the Indexing Society of Canada’s newsletter. *** I expected to learn a lot from Indexing and Retrieval of Non-Text Information (edited by Diane Rasmussen Neal and published by Walter deGruyter); what I didn’t expect was to enjoy reading it as much as I did. Neal and … Continue reading “Book review: Indexing and Retrieval of Non-Text Information

Book review: Book Production

More than any other role in publishing, production seems to be one in which people learn by doing. Whereas editors and designers have a wealth of  professional development courses and workshops at their disposal, those who shepherd publications through the production process don’t have as many options for structured learning. Some design courses touch on … Continue reading “Book review: Book Production

Book review: Book Was There

As a professor of literature at McGill University, Andrew Piper is, in essence, a professional reader, and he brings this experience to his latest book, Book Was There: Reading in Electronic Times (University of Chicago Press), in which he offers a very personal meditation on our evolving relationship with reading. In what ways is a physical … Continue reading “Book review: Book Was There