A list of class books on writing and editing as well as some new favorites, all included at the recommendation of editing teachers and past editing students.

Clark, Roy Peter. Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 2008. Print.

A quick read with short, to-the-point chapters, Writing Tools explains concepts, provides strategies, and follows up with exercises for practice. A colleague who once taught with this text commented that her students found it “practical” in meeting their needs as writers.

Einsohn, Amy. The Copyeditor’s Handbook: A Guide for Book Publishing and Corporate Communications, With Exercises and Answer Keys. 3rd ed. Berkeley: U of California P, 2011. Print.

Einsohn gives honest advice in an entertaining but practical way in this manual. The book is intended to support newcomers, but her perspective has been enjoyed by experienced editors, too, who seek alternative views on the profession or who simply want to improve their understanding of the craft by detailing who edits, what they edit for, how they approach a manuscript, and how to cultivate more confidence in one’s editorial judgments. The text is useful to all but addressed to copyeditors in book publishing and corporate communications in particular.

Funk, Robert, and Martha Kolln. Understanding English Grammar. 9th ed. London: Longman, 2011. Print.

For a more academic take on editing practice, Understanding English Grammar reviews the rules and accompanies lessons with plenty of exercises. For teachers who find sentence diagramming useful, this book is a great one to teach from. It is, however, a bit more expensive in comparison to other grammar texts but it’s thorough in its explanations and even integrates linguistic learning in connection to the learning of editing practices.

Glaser, Joe. Understanding Style: Practical Ways to Improve Your Writing. New York: Oxford UP, 2009. Print.

It’s a great introduction to the principles, terms, and usages of stylistic elements for a student at any level. A past undergraduate student commented recently that it was a “simple and straightforward” explanation of style, but even now as a graduate student she recommends the text to any beginning or advanced writer who wants to better understand style.

Gross, Gerald. ed. Editors on Editing. New York: Grove P, 1994. Print.

Similar to the Writers on Writing series, this collection presents some interesting and entertaining accounts of the practice of editing. It’s not the most recent account of editing to date, but for a traditional take on various editing practices told almost like tales, students are sure to enjoy this book and find the profession more welcoming than they might have previously thought.

Hirsch Jr., E.D. The Philosophy of Composition. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1977. Print.

Originally titled Philosophy of Composition, Hirsch’s 1977 book is a classic text used by many composition instructors over the years, but editing teachers have returned to it time and again for it’s thorough explanation of different style and usage principles.

Judd, Karen. Copyediting: A Practical Guide. 3rd ed. Rochester: Axzo Press, 2001. Print.  

A long-time favorite of the few editing teachers we know, Judd’s book is a comprehensive guide to start students out and challenge students with follow-up exercises while trying to give students a “real-world” view of the editing profession.

Longknife, Ann, and K.D. Sullivan. The Art of Styling Sentences. 4th ed. Happauge: Barron’s Educational Series, 2001. Print.

For development specific to syntax, LongKnife and Sullivan provide numerous examples of how to resolve tricky clauses in a way that’s easy for students and editing newcomers to understand and then apply that learning with practical skills, such as sentence combining.

Norton, Scott. Developmental Editing: A Handbook for Freelancers, Authors, and Publishers. Chicago: U of Chicago P. 2011. Print.

A bit dated by some standards, but for anyone looking for a candid explanation of what an editor’s job is really like will appreciate Plotnik’s honest piece, not to mention the poem he shares with editors has made an impression on many readers.

Sailer, Carol Fisher. The Subversive Copy Editor. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2009. Print.

Saller’s “subversive” approach to copyediting shakes up traditional understanding of editors and the audiences they edit for. For example, Saller writes at length to change “the image of the author as the enemy” as well as explain when it is acceptable “to break the rules,” but only when it benefits the reader. It’s a relatively light read that takes on weighty issues as they change with the profession. For some time, she also maintained an interesting blog connected to the book’s site,, where she essentially adds to this book with new ideas, news, and useful updates for students and teachers alike.

Stainton, Elsie Myers. The Fine Art of Copyediting. 2nd ed. New York: Columbia UP, 2002. Print.

Best reserved for basic or introductory editing courses, this book goes beyond the style manual to address some of the “problems” or difficult to solve questions that accompany editors throughout their careers and ones that new editors will inevitably face in the beginning of their careers.

Strunk Jr., William and E.B. White. The Elements of Style. 4th ed. London: Longman Press, 2000. Print.

Arguably one of the most influential style guides in American copyediting, this prescriptive take on American English puts forth eight usage rules, ten composition principles, and “a few matters of form” in addition to just over one hundred frequently misused idioms and misused words.

Strumpf, Michael, and Auriel Douglas. The Grammar Bible: Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Grammar but Didn’t Know Whom to Ask. 3rd ed. New York: Holt Paperbacks, 2004. Print.

A devotional of sorts, students will find this honest review of grammar rules approachable and forgiving of what they come to class not knowing.

The Chicago Manual of Style. 16th ed. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2010. Print.

First published in 1906, The Chicago Manual of Style is “a style guide for American English.” The University of Chicago Press still maintains the guide to keep up with modern usage principles, having produced sixteen editions over the past century to keep up with the writing and citation styles widely used in publishing today.

Trenga, Bonnie. The Curious Case of the Misplaced Modifier: How to Solve Problems of Weak Writing. Cincinnati: Writer’s Digest Books, 2008. Print.

Written for a general audience, teachers, students, and editors will appreciate Trenga’s perspective on the state of grammar in modern society and how the introduction of new errors is changing what we once considered a static, immutable list of linguistic rules.

Zinsser, William. On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction. 2nd ed. New York: Harper Reference, 1998. Print.

For any teacher struggling to teach students how to do a “heavy” copyedit, Zinsser’s first few chapters offer straightforward explanations and examples on how to cut for clarity. Later chapters are also useful for different genres of writing for mainstream publications, which might prove helpful for students who lack a thorough understanding of those genres.


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