If you create business or marketing communications regularly, you’re probably a decent writer. But even great writers use grammar, style and punctuation guides. If your skills aren’t where they need to be, these references can help you improve your writing.
If you’re thinking about leaning on GPT, Copy.ai, Grammarly or other artificial intelligence (AI) tools, think again. They make mistakes. Errors may be minimal, but you can’t count on it. Wouldn’t you rather become a better writer and enjoy the learning process than lean on AI?
Similarly, keep in mind that AI has its quirks. For example, Copy.ai loves the Oxford comma. That’s the comma used before the final conjunction in a list of three or more items. The extra comma isn’t grammatically necessary. But some companies use it as part of their internal style. If your business doesn’t use the Oxford comma, and you use AI to write, you could have a problem.
Boost your writing skills using the trusted resources below.
1. “The Elements of Style”
The Elements of Style is a classic grammar book. It includes a number of rules, dozens of commonly misused words, and expressions and examples to guide you. It was first published in 1918, but don’t let that turn you off. The content is just as relevant as ever. You can get an updated print version (the fourth) here.
2. Purdue Online Writing Lab
3. “The Associated Press Stylebook”
The Associated Press Stylebook is the gold standard for journalists. It covers grammar, style, spelling, punctuation and usage. Even if you’re not a journalist, it’s an excellent guide for helping you write clearly. Entries for the online version update regularly, so you’ll always be current. Another plus: The online search engine is easy to use and provides relevant, instant results.
4. “The Chicago Manual of Style”
Among U.S. book publishers, The Chicago Manual of Style is the mostly widely used guide to style, editing and design. It’s considered the preferred style for academic writing. Unlike Associated Press style, Chicago style uses the Oxford comma.
Although the print edition is more expensive than an online subscription, I recommend the print version. The online search engine is clunky and doesn’t provide clear results. You’re often forced to hunt and peck to find what you need. The majority of the time, I resort to Google searches when I use Chicago style. Examples include “Chicago Style and blog titles,” “Chicago Style and compound modifiers” and “Chicago Style and acronyms.” If I still can’t find what I need, I dig through the online table of contents. Pack your patience if you go the online route.
5. "Grammar Girl"
Grammar Girl is a podcast from Mignon Fogarty. She’s shared solid grammar tips online for years. Her episodes are short, relatable and easy to understand. Her sense of humor keeps grammar from being dry and boring.
6. “The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language”
Are you a word geek? If you are, The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language is for you. The dictionary includes definitions of words and where they come from.
Another way to level up your grammar and punctuation skills is to take a course. The University of California, Irvine offers Grammar and Punctuation through Coursera.
Write clearly and confidently
Knowing how to use grammar, style and punctuation will help you become a better communicator in your business and personal endeavors. By embracing the resources above, you’ll invest in your ability to excel, whether you write regularly or occasionally.