The [Personal] Must-Read List of Books for Technical Communicators

Like every technical communicator, I too have always had some books that I have next to my work desk. And, hence like every one of them, I always wait for a chance to talk about them. In this post, I will share the list of must-have, must-read, and must refer books for technical communicators. I don’t really have a laundry list, and hence I will keep adding a book or two as I come across any.

One more thing: I’ve rated the books on a scale of 10, on a few parameters. (10 being the highest and 1 being the lowest.) Going forward, I will add more parameters – just as I will add more books to the post.

So, the following is the list of books:

The Elements of Style

This is one book I suppose every technical communicator has read (or been asked to read). I list this book because it has a simplistic style, which every one of us tries to achieve and – mostly – successfully fail to. Although the book is available as a free PDF, but I recommend you to pay for learning. Also, some of the principles do not apply today, but the basics will still remain same.

Ease of understanding: 9

Depth of concepts: 8

Overall: 8.5

Penguin Guide to Punctuation

R L Trask has made it easy for non-native English speakers, like you and I, to understand and learn the language. I recommend the book – and the writer, of course – for the style, simplicity, and effectiveness of the concepts.

Ease of understanding: 8

Depth of concepts: 8

Overall: 8

 

Eats, Shoots and Leaves

Yes, that comma is in the title of the book. This book is your fun-packed learning resource, and Lynne Truss grabs your attention till the last line of the last page. The book is a page-turner, and I could not put it down before I finished reading it. Thank you, Lynne, for the book! Just a mention: She’s tried to cover everything possible, so don’t expect her to get into the details.

Ease of understanding: 8

Depth of concepts: 6

Overall: 7

 

Technical Editing: The Practical Guide for Editors

This is one of the most important books for you – if you are a technical editor or if you switch roles between writing and editing.

Ease of understanding:7

Depth of concepts: 9

Overall: 8

 

How to Not Write Bad

Well, although the writer confesses that the title could have been “How to not write badly”, it is correct to write “bad” for “badly.” The book contains a lot of badly written examples. I found those examples to be US-centric, but it is good to assume that the book is largely written for US-specific readers (although the writer does not mention this).

Ease of understanding: 8.5

Depth of concepts: 6

Overall: 6

 

Line by Line

This is one of the most neatly structured books I’ve read in a long time. Claire is truly a master of the English language. She has quoted examples for everything she’s discussed. If you want to pursue a career in writing and aim to write clearly, then this is the book for you.

Ease of understanding: 6

Depth of concepts: 9

Overall: 8.5

 

On Writing Well

When I read this book for the first time, it took me almost three months to read this book cover-to-cover. Last month, I finished reading it for the fourth time, and I still learned a lot from it. I am sure you too will find it worth reading and referring to. The book has been there for more than 35 years, and it still seems fresh with examples.

Ease of understanding: 6.5

Depth of concepts: 9

Overall: 8.5

 

The Deluxe Transitive Vampire

This is one book, which required special attention. For the first couple of chapters, I remember asking my boss to help me comprehend it. I glean that every writer has their signature style; and so does Karen. Once I became accustomed to reading her writing style, it was fun all the way. I must mention that it is for the first time that I read anything about grammar in such a format. But, her writing is catchy, and once you get a hang of the style, reading and learning from the book becomes easy and quick.

Ease of understanding: 5

Depth of concepts: 7.5

Overall: 6.5

 


 

The following points are noteworthy:

  • This personal judgment of books should in no way be regarded as the overall quality of the books. Since the rating is purely personal, I request you to read the books to reach your own conclusions.
  • The books are copyrights of their respective owners/affiliates.
  • I’ve learned a lot from these books. But, I do not assume that you too will learn, grow, or develop your skills by reading the same books. It is just that the books matched my reading habits or could interest me.
  • Every writer has their own way of storytelling. Every book has its own story to tell. Every reader has their own assumptions and expectation from the book. These are my views, which are restricted to my imagination, knowledge, experience, and circumstances. This does not change the thought process and hard work undergone in completing the books.
  • Appropriate links are provided to the books. Some books may not have correct or active links. Also, the links in no way solicit the use of the linked or referred website for purchases.

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