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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 55 reviews
281 of 293 people found the following review helpful
This book changed my life! 18 July 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
In 1985 I was a consultant and had to write a report on my findings for a client. I knew that my writing was not all that good, and since I was being paid a considerable sum to write the report I felt it should be written well.
Just at that time an ad in the New Yorker magazine caught my eye. It showed two columns side by side, one, the length of the page, the other, a quarter of the page. I read the ad and sure enough the first column was just like my writing, the second was crisp, to the point, and much more interesting to read. The headline said something to the effect of "how to take the first and turn it into the second".
I ordered the book and read it immediately. The first three chapters excited me so, I could hardly contain myself. It explained so clearly how I had to think about what I was writing, I felt I saw the light.
From that day on I took a whole different view of writing. It turned a task that I usually dreaded into something that I no! w love. Not that I am a great writer, but I feel confident that I can express myself well in my business and personal life. I feel that what I write is clear and easy to read. This has been very valuable to me as a businessman. I have written marketing material, technical manuals, company communications, and customer letters. Without this skill I know I would not have been nearly as successful and would have missed out on a great pleasure in life.
Well, I gave the book to my daughter when she went to college and I lost touch with it. A few years ago I wanted to locate it again but didn't know the title or author. The other day I suddenly got the idea that Amazon.com might help me find it. All I remembered was the year I saw the ad for the book and that a woman wrote it.
So I started to search and in less than 3 minutes I thought I had found it. I ordered it and sure enough it was Line by Line. When I got it in the mail I was so excited, I felt I had met up with a long los! t friend. I just ordered several more copies that I will sh! are with my staff because writing is one of the most important skills needed in today's business environment.
I recommend this book to anyone who wants to make writing a part of his or her everyday life. It is wonderful!
By the way, I was proud of the report I wrote and the customer loved it too.
And thanks Amazon.com, you found a long lost friend of mine.
108 of 111 people found the following review helpful
If you write, you should read this book. 11 May 2001
By Adam Pasztory - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book is fantastic. It's only about 200 pages, but densely packed with useful information, and every single page deserves careful study. The glossary of commonly confused words at the end is worth 10$ all by itself.
This is not a grammar book (though there is an appendix that gives an overview of English grammar). It is a book designed to improve your writing. It helps you make solid decisions about sentence structure, placing punctuation, and choosing the right words. This book can help guide you through some of the thorniest and most subjective aspects of writing English.
One of the neatest things about this book is that, in addition to the copious examples, the text itself serves as an example of excellent writing. Perhaps the major drawback is that after reading this book, you will end up being much more critical of the writing you encounter!
71 of 73 people found the following review helpful
A Great Book Has Always Been Greatly Revised 27 September 2005
By E. B. Brinkley - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
As the saying goes, "It's all in the revision." Or, there are no great first drafts. The true masters know that first drafts are terrible, second drafts are slightly better, and in the ninth or twelfth or twentieth draft, after sentences have been improved "Line by Line," mellifluous, deft prose reveals clearly what the author means to say. The meaning of too much writing is bogged down and obscured by under-par line editing. I once had the opportunity to work with an editor who had been at Henry Holt for many years, and when we sat down to go over my manuscript, she recommended this particular book. It has been at my bedside, along with the Bible and Whitman's "Leaves of Grass," ever since. The product of her years as a copy editor for the Modern Language Association (every writer should also own the MLA Handbook) Claire Cook's "Line by Line: How to Edit Your Own Writing," is not for the faint-hearted, nor is it for those who have yet to memorize "the little book" by Strunk and White. Even an English major and MFA holder who has written for newspapers, magazines, and literary journals will benefit greatly, and improve his or her chances of publication, by "eliminating the stylistic faults that most often impede reading and obscure meaning." A straightforward, five-chapter sequence addresses overwritten sentences, bad transitions, "mismanaged" references, problems with punctuation (at the advanced level), and other mistakes that doom writing, whether you're attempting to fine-tune a newsletter, a scholarly paper, a business proposal, or a short story. I have seen many, many books on improving one's writing, and this is, as the Holt editor indicated, as necessary a writing manual as Strunk and White's, and one that will elevate you from competent amateur to master prose stylist. (also recommended for the serious writer at any level: "The First Five Pages: A Writer's Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile," by Noah Lukeman).
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
You've got to buy this book! 11 June 2007
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Superb! I am a programmer by day and a writer of articles on programming at other times.

Growing up in England I was taught every miniscule detail of the English language. How to construct sentences and how pronunciation changes depending on word stems, Country of origin and so on. I had a pretty good grasp on writing. At work I spend some of my time re-writing briefing notes, user manuals, and proof-reading emails.

On top of this I study grammar and style manuals. You get a feel for where I'm coming from in terms of expertise.

This book changed my entire outlook on writing. I am only up to page 26 and already I have hacked through some articles like a whipper-snipper through a weeded garden. I found some habitual mistakes I constantly make and curbed some emerging ones. This is a fantastic book!

The last briefing note I edited started as a monstrosity of bad grammar and ended as a shining example of what this book has to offer.

I cannot recommend this book enough. It is only 200 pages but not a word is wasted. It is concise and packed full of information and is an example of its own subject.
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Line by Line 2 June 2006
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Line by Line: How to Improve Your Own Writing is a classic, and with good reason. If you like words like "gerund" and "prepositional phrase," Line by Line has a lot to offer. Specific instructions on how to tell if a sentence is wordy, for instance, even if you don't have an "ear" for it, include such factors as the ratio of nouns to active verbs, and how many prepositional phrases are used.
Examples throughout the book soften, but do not eliminate, the academic style. If you prefer something in plain English, read the excellent Woe Is I, by Patricia T. O'Conner. If you want a serious study-guide for improving your writing, Line by Line is a great choice.

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