Triangle Grammar Guide’s gift guide

Having edited several gift guides in the past week or so (and facing another when I go in this morning — let me tell you, I am running out of headline ideas), I decided to issue my own gift guide. Here are three ideas for anyone who cares about writing.

A good hardcover dictionary. Any of the dictionaries listed on this page would be fine. I like “Webster’s New World College Dictionary,” but I wish I had a version of the Oxford English Dictionary. I also think it’s good to have a computer version of a dictionary to load on a laptop. It’s better to have a book, though, because it’s portable and thorough. It’s faster to look up words in a book, too.

A good usage authority’s book. I like “Garner’s Modern American Usage” because Bryan A. Garner is practical, thorough and straightforward. The book is arranged alphabetically and contains no snarkiness. Others on this Amazon page would make good choices. I like “Fowler’s Modern English Usage” (the R.W. Burchfield version).

A reliable style guide. Of course, I must have the “Associated Press Stylebook,” but I also consult “The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage” and “The Gregg Reference Manual.” Some organizations use “The Chicago Manual of Style” and academics consult the “MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers.” Just find a good guide for punctuation.

This article was originally posted by the Raleigh News & Observer, a subsidiary of The McClatchy Co.; is posted here to provide continuity; and is copyright © 2011 The News & Observer Publishing Company, which reserves the right to remove this post.