Write in Style

lessons on good writing style – with lots of examples

Write in Style is a good-natured and humane guide to the main elements of producing fluent and accurate English. Richard Palmer’s approach is practical and refreshingly irreverent. He covers good and bad sentences; how to deal with punctuation; how to strike the right tone; and the rules of spelling and grammar – plus all the bewildering exceptions to them. His pace is leisurely and the style conversational. He’s particularly good at explaining the problems and irregularities of the English language. Every point is illustrated with vivid examples – gaffes from the popular press and good style from skilful authors.

He covers all the fundamentals and issues which commonly give people problems – such as the differences between clauses, phrases, and complete sentences. There are also exercises (with answers) at the end of each chapter, so that you can check your understanding of each topic.

All the common marks of punctuation are fully explained, including the much-misunderstood apostrophe. There’s a whole chapter devoted to advice on writing academic essays – a very good discipline to acquire for anybody who wants to develop their writing skills. Then he does the same thing for reports, reviews, and the quite tricky precis and summary.

This will appeal to people who want to be taken by the hand and led through the complexities of English by a reassuring teacher. The strength of this book is that every point is thoroughly explained and illustrated by good and bad examples – many of them very amusing.

© Roy Johnson 2003

Richard Palmer, Write in Style: a guide to good English, London: Routledge, 2nd edn, 2002, pp.255, ISBN: 0415252636

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