Recommended reading


This list includes both new works and editions of standard works.

Many of them are available in public libraries. If you can’t locate what you are looking for, try your nearest university library.

English Usage

Crystal, David. Who Cares about English Usage? Penguin Books, 1984.

Fowler, H.W. A Dictionary of Modern English Usage. 2nd ed., rev. Sir Ernest Gowers. Clarendon Press, 1965.

Partridge, Eric. Usage and Abusage. Penguin Books, 1981.

Peters, Pam. The Cambridge Guide to English Usage. Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Quirk, Randolph. The Use of English. London: Longmans, 1969.

Swan, Michael. Practical English Usage. Oxford University Press, 2005.


Straus, Jane. The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation (10th ed.) Jossey-Bass, 2008.

Truss, Lynne. Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation. 2003.

History of the Language

Baugh, Albert C., and Thomas Cable. A History of the English Language. Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978.

Bryson, Bill. The Mother Tongue: English and How it got that way. HarperCollins, 1990.

Crystal, David. The English Language. Penguin Books, 1978.

McArthur, Tom. The English Languages. Cambridge University Press, 1998.

Mesthrie, Rajend, ed. Language in South Africa. Cambridge University Press, 2002.


The Chambers Dictionary (12th ed.) Chambers Harrap, 2011.

A Dictionary of South African English on Historical Principles. Oxford University Press, 1996.

(This work is currently out of print, but is available in many larger libraries.)

Hoad, T.F. The Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. Oxford University Press, 1986.

The Oxford English Dictionary (2nd ed.) Prepared by J.A. Simpson and E.C. S. Weiner. 10 vols. Clarendon Press, 1989.

(This major reference work is accessible in the larger reference libraries, and available to subscribers online and on CD.)

Oxford South African Concise Dictionary. Oxford University Press, 2010.

Writing guides

The Economist Style Guide (10th ed.) The Economist, 2010.

Peck, John and Martin Coyle. The Student’s Guide to Writing: Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling. Macmillan, 1999.

Strunk, William and E.B. White. The Elements of Style (4th ed.) 1918. Longman, 2000.

New Hart’s Rules, Oxford University Press, 2005.

Zinsser, William K. On Writing Well. Harper Collins, 2006.

Documentation guides

Note that many style guides are readily available online.

Chicago Manual of Style (16th ed.) University of Chicago Press, 2010.

MHRA Style Guide (3rd ed.) Modern Humanities Research Association, 2013.

MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (7th ed.) Modern Language Association, 2009.

MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing (3rd ed.) Modern Language Association, 2008.

Handbooks for editing and indexing

Booth, Pat. Indexing: The Manual of Good Practice. K.G. Saur, 2001.

Browne, Renni and Dave King. Self-Editing for Fiction Writers (2nd ed.) William Morrow, 2004.

Einsohn, Amy. The Copyeditor’s Handbook (3rd ed.) Denver Publishing Institute, 2011.

Indexing for Southern Africa. Ed. Jacqueline A Kalley, Elna Schoeman, Marlene Burger. University of South Africa, 2005.

New Oxford Style Manual. Oxford University Press, 2012.

Recommendations: The preparation of indexes to books, periodicals and other publications. British Standards Institute, 1974.




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