Wynford Hicks was my tutor on the City University Journalism degree course, and although he had been working on this book for a long time, it was after despairing at the quality of his student's standard of English that he finally got around to getting it into print. It is an excellent reference for all the usual grammar and spelling pitfalls, and a guide to avoiding the many, many errors, malaproprisms and other misuses of English that pedantic sub-eds love to punish lazy hacks with. I've recommended the book to numerous colleagues in the past and I've still got a copy on my desk for solving arguments. An essential tool for anyone who writes for a living.
Wynford Hicks, currently spending the rest of his days teaching cricket to locals in his adopted French home, thoroughly deserves his idyllic existence after helping thousands of journalists through their exams and careers with this stunning guide. He describes in plain English when and where to use different forms of punctuation, how to properly construct a sentence and make enjoying an article as easy as possible for today's busy reader. The section on journalistic style sticks two elegant fingers firmly in the face of English teachers who cry bad grammar at the merest hint of beginning a sentence with a proposition or dabbling with the GCSE demons of the split infinitive. The chapter on tabloidese is hilarious, chatting as it does about a employee who slammed his boss in a bid to win favour with colleagues and now fears he will be axed. The question he asks is do you ever here people conversing in this manner at a bus stop? He also launches an offensive against 'posh' and 'trendy' words, and helps writers resist the urge to use them simply to impress their colleagues, while bewildering the hapless reader. Invaluable.
Grammar is something we all confuse at one time or another, and journalists must be able to write with good grammar quickly. This book shows you how to use grammar to communicate ideas more effectively and concisely, with sections on style to help keep your prose flow. It is more a good reference book than a cover-to-cover read; useful when you're not sure how to convey exactly what you mean. The book won't turn you into a fabulous journalist, but it will make your prose more precise and readable.