Can you recommend a good book on writing? We’re often asked this broadly phrased question. But because “writing” is such a broad subject, what one person needs isn’t the same as what someone else would find most helpful.
If the question relates to grammar and usage—the thousand nitty-gritty issues of English wording—it’s hard to beat Garner’s Modern English Usage (5th ed. 2022) and The Chicago Manual of Style (17th ed. 2017); our founder, Bryan Garner, wrote the grammar section of the Chicago Manual. And by the way, his monthly column in National Review is called “Garner the Grammarian.”
If you want stylish sentences and paragraphs, we like John Trimble’s Writing with Style (3d ed. 2011). It’s great for high-schoolers and undergraduates. But if you’re more specifically interested in legal style, we recommend either The Elements of Legal Style (2d ed. 2002) or The Redbook: A Manual on Legal Style (5th ed. 2023).
If you want to improve your business writing, try the HBR Guide to Better Business Writing (2015). It’ll show you how to write in such a way that people will want to do business with you.
But if it’s a coursebook you want—a coursebook that’s intended to be read and reread and consulted through the years—we swear by Advanced Legal Writing & Editing. The only way to get a copy is to take our one-day course. The book is chock-full of wisdom about how to produce effective, well-organized, well-phrased prose.
All these books are consistent with the LawProse philosophy. How do we know that? All but one of them are written or coauthored by our founder, Bryan A. Garner. The other one—the Trimble book—is by one of our original faculty members. The founder and entire staff at LawProse have devoted their careers to different facets of clear writing and clear thinking, and we’ve done so in a variety of genres. We hope you might have benefited from that.