REVIEW - Read Me First! - A Style Guide for the Computer Industry

Title:

Read Me First! - A Style Guide for the Computer Industry

Author:

Sun Technical Publications

ISBN:

0131428993

Publisher:

Prentice Hall Professional (2003)

Pages:

356pp

Reviewer:

Francis Glassborow

Reviewed:

October 2003

Rating:

★★☆☆☆

As titles go this must be one of the least descriptive. The subtitle is a bit more helpful 'A Style Guide for the Computer Industry'. But that could easily lead you to think that it might be something about software/source code style. You would be completely mistaken.

This book is about writing, ordinary technical writing. In this context the injunction of the title is right on the mark. If you have never written before (or even if you have, but are yet to get glowing tributes about the clarity of your writing) this is a book that would be worth investing some time with before you write your next article, manual or book. Mind you, I am not happy with all the advice and examples in the book. For example the authors sometimes get so focused on one aspect of a piece of advice that they miss some other aspect. For example on page 10 concerning pronouns:

  • l Do not use first person pronouns

Incorrect:

We recommend that you install the custom components only on large systems

Correct:

Install the custom components only on large systems.

Now I do not know about you, but the correct version would seem to be: Only install the custom components on
large systems.

The book covers all forms of writing including writing for the Web.

While I am happy to recommend this
book as being better than nothing I think that the book (now in its second edition) would benefit from having a genuinely fluent writer of English involved in its next edition.
Much of the language is unnecessarily
stilted and thereby gets between the reader
and the content. In other words the content
is fine but the book fails to teach by
example.


Book cover image courtesy of Open Library.