Recommended Reading

Here you will find more than one hundred books and websites, each categorized and briefly annotated, that help shape Writing to Make a Difference. You'[ll also find books written by many of our Special Guests on Writing Wednesdays.

Remember that many books these days have related websites, and many websites also offer regular newsletters. Be sure to check for them!


Fundraising for the GENIUS: The Only Book You’ll Ever Need to Raise More Money and Support for Your Organization

Throwing Lead: A Writer’s Guide to Firearms (And the People Who Use Them)


E Writing: 21st Century Tools for Effective Communication
This is more about e-writing for communication within an organization, but also has good general information on e-writing.

Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer
A trusty toolbox of 50 concise chapters (each with an exercise at the end), written by a writing teacher at thePoynter Institute.

Writing Creative Nonfiction
Familiarize yourself with this style of writing and you can begin to incorporate some of its techniques.

A Writer’s Coach: An Editor’s Guide to Words That Work
An acclaimed newspaper editor who has coached many successful writers shares his practical wisdom andinsight on writing with clarity, style, and efficiency.

Spunk & Bite: A Writer’s Guide to Punchier, More Engaging Language & Style
This updated version of Strunk & White’s classic shares bolder, fresher, and more forceful techniques to draw inyour readers.

The Writing Group Book: Creating and Sustaining a Successful Writing Group
Tips on forming in-person and online writing circles, contributed by real writing group participants (from manydiff erent genres).

Powerful Paragraphs (The Effective Writing Series)
Part of the “Effective Writing Series” of advice for strong writing, with lots of examples.

The Elements of Style (4th Edition)
This famous classic is also online at:

Writing for Business: Helpful Easy-To-Apply Advice for Everyone Who Writes on the Job
An oldie but goodie: a collection of short essays covering a wide range of writing issues. Looking for more traditional English writing instruction? Try this book.

On Writing Well, 30th Anniversary Edition: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction
A classic from a well-known and bold writing teacher. Garbl’s Writing Center.  A slew of general writing resources.

The Word Spy. Lots of fun new words with definitions and example citations.

General Copywriting

The Online Copywriter’s Handbook: Everything You Need to Know to Write Electronic Copy That Sells
Although the Internet changes extremely rapidly, these concepts for online copywriting remain solid.

Can I Change Your Mind?: The Craft and Art of Persuasive Writing
Good info and examples about the principles and techniques of persuasive writing (by a witty, seasoned Britishauthor).

Tested Advertising Methods (Prentice Hall Business Classics)
A copywriting classic.

Gabay’s Copywriters’ Compendium
An eclectic and thorough copywriter’s almanac/encyclopedia/phrase book from a well-known Britishcopywriter.

Writing Copy for Dummies
A modern, comprehensive primer on many kinds of copywriting.

Ogilvy on Advertising
This copywriting classic comes from a veteran advertising wizard.

Copywriting: Successful Writing for Design, Advertising and Marketing
Illustrated examples and copywriting guidance from a graphic design perspective.

The Adweek Copywriting Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to Writing Powerful Advertising and Marketing Copy from One of America’s Top Copywriters
A great collection of decades of wisdom shared by a man who is often described as a copywriting legend.

CopyBlogger. A resource about online copywriting.

Flyte Blog. Blog about web copywriting for small businesses.

Marketing Power: American Marketing Association. Great site for all kinds of marketing info for socially responsible organizations of all kinds; free web seminars, articles, and more.

Marketing Profs. Membership site with expert advice on marketing concepts and strategies.

Mr. Fire. The website of well-known copywriter

Joe Vitale. Online Fundraising and Nonprofit Marketing. The online fundraising website from Network for Good.


Robin Hood Marketing: Stealing Corporate Savvy to Sell Just Causes
Written by a journalist, marketer, and nonprofit professional, this important book analyzes successful marketing campaigns and shows how to apply the principles to marketing in the public interest.

Writing for a Good Cause: The Complete Guide to Crafting Proposals and Other Persuasive Pieces for Nonprofits
Mostly on writing grant proposals, but includes other guidance too.

Undoing the Silence: Six Tools for Social Change Writing
Advice for writing from the grassroots.

Why bad ads happen to good causes: And how to ensure they won’t happen to yours
Guidance on what to do and what NOT to do in your advertising campaigns; available via download:

ImpactCause Marketing Network. A great place to learn about cause-related marketing.

Marketing 4 Change. A blog on how new media and social media marketing can help tell your story; also includes a nice blogroll.

Social Edge. Join these online discussions on marketing and communication topics for social entrepreneurs.


Branding for Nonprofits
Guidance on how to launch a great new mission-based brand or enliven an existing one, from a writer and designer.

Strategic Communications for Nonprofit Organization: Seven Steps to Creating a Successful Plan
This guide walks you through a deep process of communication planning.

The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding
This marketing classic teaches branding from a traditional corporate point of view—learn from it! Make sure you get the edition that includes the 11 Immutable Laws of Internet Branding.


Marketing Research That Won’t Break the Bank: A Practical Guide to Getting the Information You Need, 2nd Edition
Detailed guidance on low-cost ways to get the information you need to make smart, strategic decisions.

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference
This book explains several specific types of people who make ideas take off.

Permission Marketing : Turning Strangers Into Friends And Friends Into Customers
Classic about marketing on the Internet without interrupting your reader’s flow.

The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People Are Changing the World
Describes the values and lifestyles of the creators of a new subculture of change; your organization is probably working with many of them!

Free Demographics. Free access to data from both the 1990 and the 2000 U.S. Census.

Public Agenda.  A nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization that provides free current public opinion data.


The Fieldstone Alliance Guide to Crafting Effective Mission and Vision Statements
This little book will help you hammer out the right mission and vision statements for your organization.


Shared Minds: The New Technologies of Collaboration
Discusses how computer technologies enhance creative collaboration across issue or approach or perspective—for marketing and other purposes.


Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences
Learn about what Americans know and don’t know about numbers—and what that implies.

FrameWorks Institute. A great organization that shares their communication research on social issues. Innovation Network. Free evaluation instruments for social impact.

United Way’s Outcome Measurement Resource Network. A solid resource of outcome measurement tools based on United Way’s experiences.


Storytelling for Grantseekers: A Guide to Creative Nonprofit Fundraising
Applies storytelling techniques to the art of crafting grant proposals; also talks about seeing a proposal in a larger context of audience relationships and packaging.

Telling True Stories: A Nonfiction Writers’ Guide from the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University
This excellent collection of essays covers nonfiction narrative writing from several points of view and will help you write powerful stories.

Elements of the Writing Craft
For the serious student of the writing craft comes this book of brief literature passages and stimulating exercises to analyze and practice techniques used by distinguished writers past and present.


Lockhart, Janet, and Susan M. Shaw. Writing for Change: Raising Awareness of Difference, Power and Discrimination. Teaching Tolerance, 2002.Very good resource for exploring bias in American English, with more than 50 activities; available

Talking About People: A Guide to Fair and Accurate Language
Comprehensive, explanatory dictionary of ways to use words and phrases to avoid bias. Poynter Institute’s Diversity Tip Sheets/Resources. Updates on new ways to enhance storytelling from diff erent perspectives.


The Mind Map Book: How to Use Radiant Thinking to Maximize Your Brain’s Untapped Potential
The popularizer of the mind mapping concept explores many ways for writers and others to benefit from this non-linear thinking and planning technique.

“Writer’s Block” Busters 101 Exercises to Clear the Deadwood and Make Room for Flights of Fancy
This little book, written by a playwright, is great for getting your creative juices flowing by focusing on characters and scenes.

Writing the Natural Way. Using Right-Brain Techniques to Release Your Expressive Powers
Offers creative ways to let your inner writer out.

The Writer’s Mentor: A Guide to Putting Passion on Paper
Advice for those choosing a writer’s life, including topics on how to get started and keep going.

Unstuck: A Supportive and Practical Guide to Working Through Writer’s Block
Each chapter ends with exercises you can do to help you get unstuck.

FreeMind. This free mindmapping software can enhance your productivity. Recommended Resources


Don’t Think of an Elephant! Know Your Values and Frame the Debate
In-depth info on the use of framing and metaphors in political rhetoric.

Cliché finders. and Two great indexes of clichés you can freshen up and then use.

Metaphor Project. Resources for using metaphors to frame messages of peace, justice, and ecological sustainability.


Plain Language. Document checklist and other info from the federal government about clarity and conciseness.


From the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation. Three book-length essays about cutting jargon — beginning in the foundation world.

CHAPTER 15: MAKE SURE IT SOUNDS RIGHT’s Speeches Audio Gallery. Listen to or watch clips of famous speeches throughout history.

Vital Speeches of the Day’s Virtual Library of Resources. Recommended websites on speechwriting.

Wikisource Collection of Speeches. This site provides the text of many famous speeches.


Powerlines: Words That Sell Brands, Grip Fans, and Sometimes Change History (Bloomberg)
Here we learn about the ultimate in concise writing for brand-building: the all-powerful tagline or slogan that makes a marketing campaign sing or croak.

The Dictionary of Concise Writing: More Than 10,000 Alternatives to Wordy Phrases
Dictionaries are not usually concise, but this one shows you how to turn verbosity into brevity—in sentences,phrases, and individual words.

Getting Attention. Offers advice on taglines and other marketing tools for the mission-minded organization.


Visual Persuasion: The Role of Images in Advertising
If you want a solid, illustrated academic analysis of the visual aspect of advertising, read this book.

Editing by Design: For Designers, Art Directors, and Editors–the Classic Guide to Winning Readers
A well-illustrated design education if I ever saw one.

The Non-Designer’s Design Book: Design and Typographic Principles for the Visual Novice
A wonderfully concise introduction to key design principles.

Dreamstime. Free and low-cost stock images.

Everystockphoto. Search engine of free license-specific photos. Photos you can use with a copyright notice; links to other free photo sites.

Green Clipart. A collection of clipart with an ecological theme. iStockphoto. Low-cost photos, illustrations, video, and audio.

Pro Corbis. Royalty-free images and stock photos for a fee.


Sin and Syntax: How to Craft Wickedly Effective Prose
Updated grammar and style “rules” and when to break them, along with traditional and non-traditional examples.

Woe Is I: The Grammarphobe’s Guide to Better English in Plain English, 3rd Edition
Very readable and witty grammar book.

Words Fail Me: What Everyone Who Writes Should Know about Writing
Here O’Conner builds on her grammar advice to give us more thoughts on effective writing style.

Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
This entertaining guidebook contains some British-isms but is all-around helpful to both punctuation nit-pickers and the rest of us.

Lapsing Into a Comma : A Curmudgeon’s Guide to the Many Things That Can Go Wrong in Print–and How to Avoid Them
A real-world style guide written with insider commentary by a veteran Washington Post copy desk chief.

The Elephants of Style : A Trunkload of Tips on the Big Issues and Gray Areas of Contemporary American English
This manual continues in the same vein as Walsh’s earlier work.

100 Most Often Misspelled Words in English. This site offers friendly advice on how to remember those tricky spellings!

Alan Cooper’s Homonyms. This is actually a long list of homophones, but who’s counting?

Ask Oxford. That’s right: You can ask questions of the people who put out the famous dictionary.

Capital Community College Foundation’s Guide to Grammar & Writing. Good collection of grammar guidance, interactive quizzes, and FAQs.

Common Errors in English Usage. An extensive alphabetical list of errors, written by a Washington State University English professor (with a personality).

English Grammar Secrets. This site offers many grammar lessons and interactive exercises.

Grammar Bytes! Another great online grammar site.

Grammargirl. A popular podcast on grammar.

Lynch’s Guide to Grammar and Style. This extensive (and free) guide comes from an associate professor of English at Rutgers University and lists a few other good online resources.

Online Writing Lab (OWL). This well-known resource offers free writing advice from Purdue University.

Self-Study Homonym Quizzes. Homonym exercises written for ESL learners but helpful for anyone.


The Associated Press Stylebook

The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage : The Official Style Guide Used by the Writers and Editors of the World’s Most Authoritative Newspaper

MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing, 3rd Edition

The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th Edition


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