Check it Out: a Guide to Effective Writing
Longman Paul, Auckland, 1991, $12.95
In many ways, this slim paperback is a more useful book than the latest truncated New Zealand Style Book, since its advice on matters such as abbreviations or the use of capitals is more up-to-date, while the book’s register is refreshingly less imperious. Although management communications lecturer Margaret McLaren wrote Check it out for secondary and tertiary students, the book is also ideal for office workers and for those desktop ‘editors’ who regard a plural as all invitation to insert an apostrophe (p78). Short, well-structured chapters take readers through technical terms, sentence structure, the mechanics of punctuation, spelling, grammar, italics, abbreviations and mechanics, the flow of language, common errors, referencing and quantitative information. In each section McLaren provides examples of the exceptions that make modern English such a minefield for the unwary.
Gavin McLean is a historian with the Historic Places Trust.