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Recommended reading

We get a number of requests from people who want us to 'endorse' or publicise their language books, magazines and software. However, if you would like us to consider reviewing your book for our magazine, please send a copy to us at the usual address.

We have compiled a list of recommended books and guides which we use here at the campaign, and which we suggest you track down if you can. You will find the Plain English Campaign titles in the Free guides section of this website.


If you don't already have one, buy the most comprehensive dictionary you can afford. You may also find specialist dictionaries helpful for explaining technical terms. For example:

  • Dictionary of Accounting and Finance
    R Brockington
    FT Prentice Hall, 1993
  • Collins Plain English Dictionary
    FT Prentice Hall, 1993
  • Concise Medical Dictionary
    FT Prentice Hall, 1993

Basic grammar

  • English Grammar
    L Alexander
    Longman, 1993
  • Guide to Better English
    R Gee
    Usborne, 2004


  • The Penguin Guide to Punctuation
    R L Trask
    Penguin, 2004

Plain English

  • Plain English
    Collinson, Kirkup, Kyd and Slocombe,
    Open University Press, 1992
  • The Complete Plain Words
    E Gowers
    Penguin, 2003
  • Effective writing - Plain English at work
    E Murphy and S Snell
    FT Prentice Hall, 1991
  • How to write letters in plain English
    and The Complete Plain Words
    Plain English Campaign

Design and typography

  • The Designer's Handbook
    A Campbell
    Little, Brown and Company, 1993
  • The Complete Manual of Typography
    J Felici
    Adobe Books, 2003
  • Designing Instructional Text
    J Hartley
    Routledge Farmer, 1994
  • Design of Forms in Government Departments
    HMSO, 1972


  • The Penguin Dictionary of Troublesome Words
    B Bryson
    Penguin, 1987
  • The New Fowler's Modern English Usage
    R W Burchfield
    Oxford University Press, 1998
  • Who Cares About English Usage?
    D Crystal
    Penguin, 2000
  • Guide to Better English
    M Manser
    Bloomsbury, 1994
  • Usage and Abusage
    E Partridge and J Whitcut
    Penguin, 1999
  • The Economist Style Guide
    Economist Books, 2003
  • Mind the Gaffe
    R L Trask
    Penguin, 2002

Legal language

  • Plain English for Lawyers
    National Consumer Council, 1990
  • Plain English for Lawyers
    R Wydick
    Carolina Academic Press (USA), 1998

General interest

  • Mother Tongue
    B Bryson
    Penguin, 1991
  • The English Language
    D Crystal
    Penguin, 2002
  • The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language
    D Crystal
    Cambridge University Press, 2003
  • The Unfolding of Language
    G Deutscher
    Heinemann, 2005
  • English Today (quarterly magazine)
    Cambridge University Press
  • Mightier than the Sword
    C E Good
    Lel Enterprises, 1989
  • Politics and the English Language (PDF, 141KB)
    George Orwell
    Web based copy of article published in the journal "Horizon", 1946 (volume 13, issue 76, pages 252-265)
  • Eats, Shoots and Leaves
    L Truss
    Profile Books, 2003
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