Grammar Books for College Students

A visitor recently asked if I could recommend some good grammar books for college writing. Here are a few of my favorites:


The Elements of Style by Strunk and White. This one is a classic, no-nonsense introduction to English style and usage. Some may find it too pedantic, but I think it’s a great place to start. It’s also available online at

A Writer’s Reference by Diana Hacker. The author does a nice job concisely explaining a lot of principles. Also, it comes with a convenient spiral binding and tabbed chapter dividers.

The Everyday Writer. This book has everything a college writer could want—grammar, style, composition techniques, research tips, guidelines for docementation (MLA, APA, Chicago), and more.


Style: Ten Lessons in Clarity and Grace. This book provides very practical advanced techniques that will help your writing sing.

Understanding Style by Joe Glaser. I would rank this in the top five of my all-time favorite books on writing. Almost as enjoyable as Rhetorical Grammar.

Rhetorical Grammar by Martha Kolln. I was absolutely blown away when I first read this book. It presented a a whole new approach to grammar—an approach based on how grammar actually functions, how it is used to achieve various goals, rather than on grammar for its own sake. It has some theory, and Kolln can at times get a little too wordy with the explanations, but if you stick with this book, it will surely improve your writing.


Please keep in mind that all of these books, with the exception of The Elements of Style, are geared toward the college market and are, therefore, quite expensive if you buy them new. You can find used copies pretty easily at online shops such as and

Also, remember that this is merely my highly subjective list of personal favorites. If anyone else has a book on grammar, style, or writing in general to recommend to a college student, please leave a comment.

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One Response to Grammar Books for College Students

  1. Chris Starling says:

    Another really good book for college writing, and writing in general, is Rules for Writers. It is also by Diana Hacker and has a companion site with excercises, quizzes, etc. The book contains all of the basics of writing and gives alot of references to other sources. It is especially useful for doing research papers and essays for academics. I’m a first-year student and I have found this book to be essential. For about 20 dollars, it can’t be beat.