Monday, August 3, 2009

Book Review: Writing Clearly and Effectively by Michael L. Murdock

As the author states in the preface, Writing Clearly and Effectively is meant for business people, but it is also useful for everyone. Like Strunk and White's Elements of Style, it is a short book, but filled with information. Murdock, because he's writing for business people, includes information about audience levels, such as professional and paraprofessional in the first chapter. Next he focuses on composition in general, with chapters titled "Getting Started" and "Principles of Clear Writing." Then he discusses common errors in grammar, syntax, punctuation, word usage, gives guidelines in punctuation, spelling, mechanics, and tenses. The appendices include more instruction on grammar, plus specific information about different types of business writing, proofreading symbols, and common abbreviations. The next section is a list of grammar and word usage exercises. The book ends with advice on college application essay writing.
This book is business-like in tone but not offputting. The business writing-specific information, especially the examples of jargon, and exercises in the appendices are particularly helpful. This is also a good reference book for those details of usage that are difficult to remember.


Murdock, Michael L. Writing Clearly and Effectively. 2nd ed. Washington, D.C.: Transemantics Incorporated, 1987.

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