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Messenger, William E. and Jan De Bruyn.

2nd ed. Scarborough (Ont.), Prentice-Hall, c1986. 621pp, paper, $13.95, ISBN 0-13-113259-8. CIP

Reviewed by Mary Fallis

Volume 14 Number 4
1986 July

This is the second edition of a very useful reference book first published in 1980. The authors are longtime members of the University of British Columbia department of english. Manuscripts of both editions have been checked by experts in universities across Canada.

The book is packed with detail, and the authors warn that the first thing a reader should do is learn how its system works. As well as a full table of contents and an index, there are lists of various topics treated, and numbered crossreferences have been provided throughout. The numbering system should be easy to use, though it is a little complicated. The whole subject is treated on a serious level, a demonstration of the fact that good writing takes serious concentration.

The book is full of useful discussions: e.g., of manuscript conventions; of the differences between American, British and Canadian spelling; of special rules and idiosyncracies in spelling usage. There are ample exercises to test recognition of faults in usage and their correction. The section on diction is full of good advice with regard to jargon, euphemisms, etc. The reader is urged to learn how to use a dictionary, which, of course, should be up to date.

Many readers (students or report writers) will find the section on principles of composition very helpful. There is advice on writing essay examinations and there are sample student essays with their grades and marking comments. The book is clear in its comprehensive coverage of both effective and faulty usage.

Recommended for university, college, and adult libraries, and as a handbook for individuals who want to work out details of writing usage on their own.

Mary Fallis, Prince George, B.C.
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