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The Canadian Writer's Handbook
4th edition

Messenger, William; de Bruyn, Jan; Brown, Judy; Montagnes, Ramona
Publisher:  Oxford University Press
Year Published:  2005  
Pages:  670pp   ISBN:  0-19-541825-5
Library of Congress Number:  PE1408.C35 2004   Dewey:  808'.042

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There's a lot of these student/writer guides out there in the marketplace. For a purchase, I usually recommend that it be "Canadian" and that it be the largest available. Sometimes the largest ones have been made larger by the addition of exercises. There's nothing wrong with that, just be aware that exercises are included here. This current work has been a standard reference for the past 25 years, and it is now updated by two teachers from the UBC Writing Centre.

As with all such guides, the major topics are sentence construction, grammar, parts of speech and syntax, punctuation, "mechanics", spelling, diction and usage, composition, and research (with documentation citing styles of MLA, APA, Chicago, and the like). Canadian sources, spelling and usage are featured. There are fifty charts and tables, plus appendices on symbols, proofreading checklists, checklists for revising papers, and editing.

The authors stress that the book is all about avoiding common errors in written English, and thus there are optional exercises to test one. Some attention is given to the requirements of non-native English speakers, although the book is not really an ESL type. There is an entry in the index for "English, as an additional language" followed by few page references.

Audience or interest level: students, writers, reference collections of libraries.

Some interesting facts: "Quotation" must be exact. A well-documented "paraphrase" reproduces the content of the original, but in different words. A "summary" is a condensation, a boiled-down version that expresses only the principal points of an original source.

What I don't like about this resource: the list of reference sources is to just books: no maps, no news sources, no Internet.

What I do like about this resource: there is a good summary on how to find what you need in looking things up in this particular book (table of contents, index, marking symbols, exercises).

Quality-to-Price Ratio: 90.

[Review by Dean Tudor]

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