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Book Reviews:

Economist Style Guide

(Economist Books / Bloomberg Press)

Canada Residents:
UK Residents:

Expanded, Hardcover Edition

Most newspapers and magazines issue their contributors with a style guide. Writers, be they on staff or freelance, then know whether a publication's house style requires % or per cent or commas in dates. Sometimes it's just a tatty sheet of typed A4. But since 1986, The Economist magazine has developed its stylish Style Guide, through seven editions, into a full length reference book.

This new, expanded eighth edition is a boon for everyone who wants to communicate with the clarity, style and precision for which The Economist is renowned. As the introduction says, "clarity of writing usually follows clarity of thought." The Style Guide gives general advice on writing, points out common errors and clichs, offers guidance on consistent use of punctuation, abbreviations and capital letters, and contains an exhaustive range of reference materialcovering everything from accountancy ratios and stock market indices to laws of nature and science.

It also refutes dozens of common errors, stating firmly, for example, that "Data are plural" and that "Any one refers to a number; anyone to anybody."

Also included is a special section on the differences between British English and American English. After that, the book provides a collection of useful information including abbreviations, currencies, calendars and conversions for metric and imperial measurements.

Some of the numerous useful rules and common mistakes pointed out in the guide include:

  • Which informs, that defines.
  • This is the house that Jack built. But This house, which Jack built, is now falling down.
  • Discreet means circumspect or prudent; discrete means separate or distinct.
  • Remember that "Questions are never indiscreet. Answers sometimes are" (Oscar Wilde).
  • Fortuitous means accidental, not fortunate or well-timed.

An essential book for anyone who writes reports, articles, books, letters or memoranda, The Economist Style Guide will enlighten, educate and amuse.

-Lucas Everidge

Edition: Hardcover, 176 pages (June, 2003)

  • Includes special section on American and British English, fact checker and glossery.
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