If you have room for just one writer’s reference beside your computer monitor or writing area, make it Diana Hacker’s A Canadian Writer’s Reference. This handbook answers all the questions of grammar, style, and format that come up while you are writing. Now in its third edition, A Canadian Writer’s Reference stays up to date and grows with the times: the newest edition includes advice on the production of electronic documents and web site design as well as instructions for properly citing an electronic source in several citation systems.
A number of special features make this writer’s reference particularly easy to use. A sturdy plastic coil binding makes it easy to open the book to any page and have it remain open on the desk while you work. It is easy to flip from page to page and from section to section. It’s easy to find things as well: a main menu inside the front cover divides the book up into twelve sections – four under “Composition/Style,” four under “Correctness,” and the remainder under “Research/Basic Grammar.” Within the text, these sections are easily located with index style tabs, and within each section there’s a more detailed menu of the section contents. At the back of the book, writers find all of the section menus together in a single detailed menu inside the back cover as well as an index.
Special features of Diana Hacker’s writer’s reference include detailed instructions for using the Modern Language Association (MLA), American Psychological Association (APA), and The Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) styles of documentation. There is a whole section written for speakers of English as a second language (ESL), and text boxes throughout the book highlighting ESL issues. Other text boxes contain quick checklists, examples to illustrate a point, or cautions about common problems with electronic grammar checkers.
A new feature for the third edition of A Canadian Writer’s Reference is a companion website that greatly expands the content of the book for writers connected to the internet. Throughout the book, On the Web text boxes provide information about the web site content and how it can be integrated with material in the book. Web site content is particularly useful for students, who will find many practice exercises there.
Anyone searching for a comprehensive writer’s handbook should consider A Canadian Writer’s Reference by Diana Hacker. This invaluable book clearly describes the correct approach to problems with English composition, grammar, documentation and other writing pitfalls. While it is endlessly useful to all English speaking writers it is particularly valuable to students and those grappling with ESL issues. Earlier editions are still relevant; however, the most current edition provides the best value.
Hacker, Diana. A Canadian Writer’s Reference 3rd ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2004