Strunk and White
Strunk and White, The Elements of Style – older and used editions are available from websites such as for no more than 5$ including shipping. An online edition of the book is available here. It’s a slim but great companion to writing that should always be with you.



Words into Type
Skillin and Gay, Words into Type (3rd edition, 1974) – a very comprehensive guide to all aspects of writing, from grammar through style to preparing a manuscripts for publication. Although most publishers in the US use the Chicago Manual of Style nowadays, I find this book to be abundant in good advice. Well worth the ± 10$ a used copy costs on


Paul Brians, Common Errors in English Usage – has an extensive list of words and expressions that are often misused in English.




Fowler’s Modern English Usage – probably the most extensive usage dictionary available. Includes etymology for thousands of words, and traces debates about appropriate usage to their origin centuries ago. If you want your writing to be very precise, this is the book for you.



Merriam-Webster’ Dictionary of English Usage – many authors consider this the best usage guide for American English. I never became a big fan (I like Fowler’s better, see above), but it is nonetheless a valuable resource.



The Chicago Manual of Style – some authors like it, others find it too confusing and nitpicking. Nonetheless, it is invaluable for those who are about to publish an article or a book in the humanities, as most publishers conform to its style with some modifications. The new edition (as of August 2011, it’s the 16th) is a bit pricy, but one can easily find previous editions for a fraction of the cost at, and other second hand book stores. The fourth edition (1914) is available for download via google books. The Manual has a very useful website that requires subscription. If your university doesn’t have one, you can purchase a subscription for 35$ a year, or, even better, get a 30-day free trial and copy the parts you need.


Online resources:

Reading, Writing, and Researching for History: A Guide for College Students

Harvard Writing Center

Dartmouth Writing Program

Yale: What Good Writers Know


Guide to Grammar and Writing

Another Guide to Grammar and Writing

Purdue Online Writing Lab

A guide to Writing for College by Veritas Prep

PaperRater – copy and paste the text of your article/paper and this website will scan it and discover grammar and style issues. The report is computer-generated, so it cannot detect everything, but it is well worth a try.
Older books on English writing, available in full view and for download via Google Books:

Brewer, A Guide to English Composition (1887)

Hackett and Girvin, Pure English: a Treatise on Words and Phrases (1884)

Gardiner et al. Elements of English Composition (1902)

Lomer and Ashmun, The Study and Practice of Writing English (1914)

Vizetelly, A Desk-Book of Errors in English (1920)


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