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This hefty compendium doesn’t seem to have left anything out. Brown has compiled a resource that covers it all. Beginning with the more typical — thank-you note, cover letter, letter of recommendation — Brown also examines best practices for business Facebook updates, a note to the babysitter and divorce condolences. Each heading has a description of the item to be written and an example of what not to do, and what one should do.

Brown approaches each item with six steps: purpose, reader, brainstorm, organize, draft, revise. And, in general, I think most people forget the first two. What is your reason for writing this down at all? What will it accomplish or convey? And, secondly, who will be reading it? What do they need to take away from it?

Some examples might elicit a snicker, like Holiday Family Newsletter. We’ve all gotten one that rambles and includes strange information. But once you follow her checklist, you see there really is a way to do it that is meaningful and will be enjoyed by the recipient.

And many of us have probably been in a presentation that used PowerPoint show — one that could have used a bit of polish. As Brown writes:

The term “death by PowerPoint” was first coined by Angela R. Garber and is widely used to describe the stultifying boredom that a bad of terrible PowerPoint slides. But when it’s your own presentation at stake, it’s no laughing matter. ~Pg 412

This is the perfect gift for grads this spring. They will be referring to it more than they would expect. And in it they will find concise, helpful information to make their writing the best it can be. It even has pointers for academic entry essays.

Additionally, Brown has a helpful site with tips for writing here: http://www.howtowriteanything.com/

Many thanks to Alice at WW Norton for the review copy.


Hardcover: 608 pages
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (April 14, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0393240142
ISBN-13: 978-0393240146
Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 7.1 x 1.4 inches
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