[Zetta’s Reference Desk] The Gregg Reference Manual, Tenth Edition

gregg reference manual 10thTitle: The Gregg Reference Manual (Tenth Edition)
Author(s): William A. Sabin, Editor
Published: 2005
Pages: 688
Purchased: Amazon
Availability: Can be hard to find (the right one)—but worth it!

I have often referred to a popular article I wrote several years ago as a guest on another blog. It can be found here on my blog: Grammar & Punctuation – The “Rules” are Meant to be Broken.

In the article, I explain how it is important for writers to know and understand the “rules” of grammar and punctuation before they bend, break, or ignore them for the sake of their so-called “style” of writing.

Language is a living thing, meaning that it continues to evolve, which also means that grammar and punctuation “rules” change and evolve too. For every “rule” there is at least one exception. Read the post and you’ll get my drift.

When it comes to a reference that has the information you need and then some—this is it! This is my first, favorite, primary go-to reference book over other style manuals that I have and (sometimes) use. Why?

  1. Plain language. With other style guides, like The Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS), although very useful, you practically have to be an etymologist to get past some of the jargon that is part of the explanation.
  2. Rules, Exceptions, Examples. The Manual illustrates usage and grammar by providing several examples of correct and incorrect usage, lists, tables, and charts
  3. Easy Organization. Part 1 is the section on Grammar, Usage, and Style, and will probably be the section you use most, even though the other two sections (Part 2: Techniques and Formats, and Part 3: References) are useful. Let me give you a tip my college prof gave us: Bookmark the section on Commas, which is in Part 1, Sections 122-175. Yes, it’s a huge section, but face it, commas are a necessary evil but they can be made to obey.
  4. Spiral bound! No more messing with broken spines and loose pages or a giant book that wants to close by itself, making you lose your place. This book opens and lies flat. This and the heavyweight-paper cover makes the Manual very durable. Why more manuals don’t do this amazes me. I’m looking at you CMOS.
  5. Supplements. There is a book of basic worksheets and a book of comprehensive worksheets that correspond to this edition. While this is mainly aimed for teachers and students, but if grammar “ain’t your thang,” and you need a little more guidance in a practical sense, give it a whirl. I can’t say if they are worth it or not, since I haven’t used them, but considering the source, they sound like a safe bet.

The editor, William A. Sabin, died in 2009, and I can understand why many writers mourn his death because it is a great loss. Not just for his family, obviously, but for the Manual. There is an 11th “tribute” edition of the Manual created in honor of Sabin that came out in 2010, but apart from it, there is no new edition, and I don’t know if there ever will be. Regardless, I highly recommend this book and you should buy it, use it, become one with it, bequeath it in your will.

When you use it so much and it starts to come apart, do what I do and get a new(er) copy. Just because there hasn’t been a new edition in over five years does not make it obsolete. Some “rules” do not change.

BEWARE! You will find listings for this book on Amazon and other sites, but don’t be fooled or suckered into paying a king’s ransom. Shop around and buy a used copy. Frankly, I wouldn’t pay more than $45 for a new copy. Not because I don’t think it’s worth it, but because I’m cheap. Set your own budget.

I could go on and on about this book, but I don’t want to bore you. All I can say is that you have to try it for yourself.

I would loan you mine…but you might not give it back.


©2015. Zetta Brown. All Rights Reserved.



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