No one writing handbook or grammar guide should suffice for careful writers, and though Jane Straus’s The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation is less comprehensive than some other resources, its large-format workbook approach provides a reader-friendly introduction to the intricacies of proper prose.
Straus was still a college student when she began her career as a writing consultant for the State of California, teaching good writing habits to state employees. When, during her preparation for leading the writing workshops, she found herself dissatisfied with the handbooks and workbooks available at the time, she took matters into her own hands and created what became The Blue Book.
Chapters on not just grammar but also punctuation, capitalization, numbers take readers briskly through basic writing skills. There’s also a chapter on confusing words, many of them explained by a synonym or a brief description but others discussed with sample sentences.
But the other half of the book consists of dozens of quizzes (and their answer keys). Most quizzes are specific — covering, for example, pronouns, lay versus lie, apostrophes, and capitalization — but there are also two general pretests and summary tests, one each for grammar and another for punctuation, capitalization, and numbers. Sometimes, the quizzes seem like overkill, but after you’ve completed not just one but two sixteen-item quizzes on affect versus effect, chances are that you’ll never confuse the two words again.
One benefit of the pairs of quizzes is that a tutor or teacher can use one as an oral quiz with students and assign the other as a written test. (Study partners can also quiz each other.)
You’ll be wise to supplement the lesson portions of this book with other handbooks I’ve mentioned and reviewed in other posts, but the wealth of diagnostic quizzes makes this book a valuable resource for English-language learners, students, and other novices, and might come in handy even for more experienced writers.
Here’s the link to the book on Amazon.