Re: Reference book survey - SUMMARY

Subject: Re: Reference book survey - SUMMARY
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 11 Mar 2002 21:56:57 -0800

kcronin -at- daleen -dot- com wrote:

Most popular reference books, in order:

Microsoft Manual of Style
Chicago Manual of Style
Elements of Style (Strunk & White)
Newton's Telecom Dictionary
American Heritage Dictionary
Webster College Dictionary (various editions, all with the word "College"
or "Collegiate")
Roget's Thesaurus (various editions)
Gregg Reference Manual
Dictionaries and Thesauruses (thesauri?) were listed generically twice

Interesting. I own several of these books, but I don't think I refer to any of them regularly when doing technical writing. Except for jargon, my vocabulary for technical writing is much smaller than my vocabulary for journalism, fiction, or poetry, so I don't have much use for dictionaries or thesaruses (it would be interesting, by the way, to see a statistical analysis of the number of words used in technical writing compared to other genres, such as popular fiction and academic papers). When I need definitions for jargon, I've come to rely on on-line searches, because often the jargon either won't be in a dictionary or won't be explained in enough detail to be useful.

I notice, too, that not a single person referred to any O'Reilly books (at least, not that I saw). I remember one company I worked at where the coders came home from the Atlantic Linux showcase, each with a stack of books with cheap animal clip-art on the cover, and I can't help thinking: there's another difference between developers and writers. I'm not sure that some of those coders ever read a book that wasn't published by O'Reilly.

My fellow whirlers disappointed me by preferring cats. Here are the

Evil feline beasts - 16
Noble faithful dogs - 12
Pigs - 2

I notice that none of those who belong to parrot flocks responded at all (I know they're on the list, because a number wrote me when I mentioned our parrots last week). I attribute this to the fact that pets and their people tend to grow alike and, like parrots, those who live with them wouldn't bother cooperating unless they could see something in it for them. :-)

Bruce Byfield 604.421.7177 bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com

"The following morning, the headlines were tall,
'Really, it was inevitable,
Mr. Dumpty was drunk when he fell from the wall,
He was already cracked, and shell-shocked and all.'"
- Tommy Sands, "Humpty Dumpty Was Pushed"

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