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The Economist Style Guide Hardcover – 8 Sep 2005

4.6 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Economist Books; 9 edition (8 Sept. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1861979169
  • ISBN-13: 978-1861979162
  • Product Dimensions: 14.2 x 2.5 x 22.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 601,596 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'The gold standard'
-- Independent on Sunday

About the Author

The Economist is one of the world's most notable magazines. Circulation in the United States and Canada is now more than 700,000 weekly.


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Format: Hardcover
Excellent glossaries e.g. of proper names that have changed over recent years (UKraine, not the Ukraine; Beijing, not Peking) and of currencies.
Excellent for pointing out fuzzy thinking in your writing and for exposing the emptiness of certain cliches.
Perfect for journalistic purposes; less exhaustive for academic writing or other formal writing.
Beware: many of the recommendations are Economist house style and are not standard British English (e.g. small capitals for all abbreviations).
You will need Oxford: New Hart's Rules (now contained in the Oxford Style Manual) for a full examination of the punctuation of quotations, since the Guide applies journalistic conventions, in which the standard rules of British English puncutation are often reversed.
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Format: Hardcover
If you're under the impression that the Economist has started giving out fashion advice, then this book is not for you.

If you are reading this review, then I hope you know what a Style Guide is. The Economist has gained a reputation for clear communication, and the Style Guide is part of that.

I'm not a journalist, but writing about financial matters is something I need to do as part of my professional life. Having a single reference that can answer questions like "on-line or online" for me has been very useful.

This is not a book that seeks to debate on the merits of different styles of written prose, but lays out, clearly, the style recommended for those writing for one publication.

The Economist's style isn't always appropriate - in organisations that prefer a "conversational marketing" approach, a more discursive style may be appropriate. However, having a consistent set of ground rules can be useful.

Oh, and the Style Guide not only explains what ground rules are, confirming that my usage was correct, but prevented me from just hyphenating the term in this review.
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Format: Hardcover
The title I have used is the third of George Orwell's "six elementary rules" to writing good English. These six rules still have a prominent place in this book's introduction, although there are now many more, gleaned from and generally attributed to other writers. This, to come to the point immediately, is my only criticism of The Economist's Style Guide. In its ninth edition, it must be more than twice the length of the one I bought in the early 90s (and now lost - probably lent to someone). The extra length detracts, I think, from the clarity of the stylistic advice, confusing it with detail, e.g. distinguishing flaunt from flount, numerous entries on currencies and the writing of nationalities. Much of the detail is relevant only to those writing on global politics and economics, although the core principles apply to everyone writing in the hope of being read, or read with pleasure!

It is perhaps unfair, though, to criticise this book for being too much of a good thing. It purports to be the actual style guide used by The Economist's journalists, and I am sure that that is just what it was (but that the current version is a little longer again). It is particularly good on he differences between American and British English, and how one can find words and expressions that are unobjectionable in both. It is humorously written - although if you want a more humorous differentiation of words you might try that redoubtable (Anglo-?)American Bill Bryson's "Troublesome Words". (Mr Bryson has however given the book a generous commendation, quoted on its back cover.) It is an excellent reference source - although if that is what you are after some of The Economist's other publications will give you much more of the same.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a very useful publication if you are writing, editing or, like me, designing publications. On many subjects it is definitive, others are more subjective and you can make your own determination... the important thing is to have a style guide and follow it consistently. Not only will this lend consistency to your production, it will shortcut many an argument and support your sanity in the face of impending deadlines.
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