USC Dornsife – The Writing Center


Academic Writing


Writing for General Audiences


Grant Writing




Booth, Wayne C., et al. The Craft of Research: Fourth Edition. UChicago Press, 2016

This book is a classic on conducting research. It is valuable for writers because it explains how to formulate a cogent argument.

Klinkenborg, Verlyn. Several Short Sentences About Writing. Random House, 2013.

This book is a brilliant exploration of style in writing. It encourages writers to make sentences “short enough to feel the variations in length” and points out, “The longer the sentence, the less it’s able to imply, and writing by implication should be one of your goals.”

Longknife, Ann, and K.D. Sullivan. The Art of Styling Sentences. Barron’s, 2012.

This book provides twenty basic patterns that writers use to add style and variety to their sentences. Not all sentences fit within these twenty patterns, but these patterns provide useful ways to organize complex ideas. The book also discusses figurative language in sentences.

Williams, Joseph M., and Joseph Bizup. Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace. Pearson, 2017.

This book is another tremendously valuable work on prose style. It emphasizes clarity in writing, and breaks down exactly how writers achieve this elusive quality. It includes tips such as, “Open your sentences with familiar units of information,” or “Get to the main verb of the sentence quickly.” The principles provided by this book are elegant and flexible.

Semenza, Gregory C. Graduate Study for the 21st Century: How To Build an Academic Career in the Humanities. Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.

For graduate students in the humanities:

A classic work on graduate study in the humanities, with all sorts of useful advice on multiple aspects of academia.

Evans and Ruba. How to Write a Better Thesis: Second Edition. Melbourne University Press, 2014

This book will provide tremendous insight into just about every aspect of coming to your thesis. From proposal to examination, producing a dissertation or thesis is a challenge. Grounded in decades of experience with research training and supervision, this fully updated and revised edition takes an integrated, down-to-earth approach drawing on case studies and examples to guide you step-by-step towards productive success.