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Awards for Word Up!

Thumbs Up for Word Up!

Grammar Girl

Great debut!
—Mignon Fogarty, Grammar Girl


I head a user-experience consultancy in Singapore called PebbleRoad. We recently started doing a lot of content work. We want to do high quality work and were looking for a standard to follow. Word Up! is our standard now.
—Maish Nichani, Managing Director, PebbleRoad Pte Ltd

Bryan Garner | How to write

—Bryan A. Garner, author of Garner’s Modern American Usage, on “You Don’t Know From Prepositions”

Kristina Halvorson | How to write

This book embodies the adage practice what you preach. Marcia’s writing style is powerful in its own way: engaging, funny, instructive, and supportive. I’ve longed for a book on writing to recommend to clients and colleagues … and this is it!
—Kristina Halvorson, author of Content Strategy for the Web

Caroline Leavitt | How to write

I love this little book … It’s so entertaining, that bettering your prose is almost effortless.
—Caroline Leavitt, book critic for The Boston Globe and People
(See interview)

Garret Romaine

It’s got the zen of editing.
—Garret Romaine, professor of English, Portland State University

Karen McGrane

This book shows how language can be clear, easy-to-read, and enjoyable. If all my clients read this book, their websites would provide more value—and I bet their emails would be better too. I’ll be recommending this book often.
—Karen McGrane, author of Content Strategy for Mobile


I have ebook and physical copies of Word Up!—I have to have it with me in line at the supermarket, on airplanes. But at home, I love cracking open the paperback and “remembering” the pages I’ve hit with colored highlighter.
—Maxwell Hoffmann, technical communicator (See comment)

Todd Albertson | How to write

I read Word Up! in one sitting. I love the witty language and Monty Python references. The glossary alone is so valuable I’m copying it and pinning it to the wall above my computer.
—Todd Albertson, Portland State University student

Rahel Bailie | How to write

You rarely get this kind of knowledge in such an engaging way. Read the book like a collection of short stories.
—Rahel Anne Bailie, coauthor of Content Strategy


If you’re in the business of communication—and you are— Word Up! is an essential business resource.
—Margot Bloomstein, author of Content Strategy at Work

Eddie VanArsdall | How to write

I simply love the book. It gives me ideas about my own direction. Marcia was smart to write it as a series of essays rather than attempting to create a formal style guide. She has a unique voice. I’m glad she let us hear it.
—Eddie VanArsdall, author of Content Insomnia blog

Informative and funny.
—Penny J. Beebe, retired senior lecturer in writing at Cornell University

Renee Barrett | How to write

This book deals with grammar and usage in a way that I was never taught in school or any workshop I ever attended.
—Renee Barrett, author of Writer’s Block blog
(See review)

Kitty Burns Florey | How to write

—Kitty Burns Florey, author of Sister Bernadette’s Barking Dog, on “A Modern Take (Is Take a Noun?) on Parts of Speech”

Keith Kmett | How to write

Why can’t style guides explain writing like Marcia Riefer Johnston?
—Keith Kmett, certified usability analyst

Carolyn Kelley Klinger | How to write

I’m only 35 pages in but I started at midnight last night and do you know what I did the moment I woke up? Turned on my light and resumed reading. Marcia Riefer Johnston has an engaging, clear, and humorous style. I am enjoying every word—and rolling on the floor laughing. I feel myself becoming more powerful already!
—Carolyn Kelley Klinger, president of the Society for Technical Communication, Washington DC chapter

Tom Johnston | How to write

Light, fun, and enjoyable to read. Marcia approaches grammar and style with a refreshing perspective. I wanted to make a checklist of principles to remember as I edit my own writing.
—Tom Johnson, author of I’d Rather Be Writing blog
(See his post)

Cheryl Landes | How to write

Better than coffee.
—Cheryl Landes, technical writer and indexer

Andrew Nhem | How to write

These tips have changed the way I work.
—Andrew Nhem, content strategist

Danielle Villegas | How to write

I recommend Word Up! to my students. I enjoy the casual approach and the sense of humor infused in each chapter.
—Danielle M. Villegas, author of TechCommGeekMom blog

Kerry Carnahan Ellis | How to write

My writing has improved as a result of this book’s guidance, which I find sitting on my shoulders like little angels (and devils) at the oddest moments.
—Kerry Carnahan Ellis, author of Content Insight blog

I read with interest and pleasure. Nice examples, and I especially liked the discussion of stylistic reasons why one would or would not choose to use verb particles. Marcia has a wonderfully engaging writing style that is quite refreshing.
—Muriel R. Schulz, coauthor of Analyzing English Grammar, on excerpts

Martha Brockenbrough | How to write

—Martha Brockenbrough, author of Things That Make Us [Sic], on “What Brand R U?”

David Caruso | How to write

Put this book in your reading queue immediately.

—David Caruso, manager of the Information Design and Architecture special-interest group, Society for Technical Communication

Gilion Dumas | How to write

I am a grammar geek and love all kinds of “how to write well” books, from The Elements of Style to The Harvard Blue Book (that one dates me!) to Eats, Shoots and Leaves. I read them cover to cover, like novels. [Word Up!] is particularly good—livelier than most, with plenty of substance.
—Gilion Dumas, author of Rose City Reader blog
(See review)

Jack Hart | How to write

Marcia Riefer Johnston has packed this volume with nuggets of wise advice. Any aspiring writer would be wise to mine them.
—Jack Hart, author of A Writer’s Coach

Colleen Jones | How to write

Marcia expertly weaves together writing strategy and tactics. Whether you’re new to professional writing or a pro seeking handy tips, this book has you covered.
—Colleen Jones, author of Clout

Arthur Plotnik | How to write

Illuminating. If some of those sharp-witted classical rhetoricians were blogging in today’s idiom, they might sound like Marcia Riefer Johnston, delivering both quintessential and quirky writing tips along with charming, pointed asides. With bright style and nimble tips that even professional writers forget (or never knew), she channels the inspirations and lessons of her own writing career into a brisk giddyap for balky prose.
—Arthur Plotnik, author of Spunk and Bite

Danalyn Loitz | How to write

It’s refreshing to be entertained while learning. The Enjoyability factor takes this book from useful and relevant to a great user experience.
—Danalyn Loitz, technical communicator and usability advocate

Jennifer DeAngelo | How to write

I find myself forcing others to listen while I read “this great part” out loud every few minutes. My dogs will soon be English experts! I plan to give this book to all my English teachers.
—Jennifer DeAngelo, grammar geek

Melissa Amos | How to write

Since reading Marcia’s book, my sentences are 42 percent more powerful. Plus they have jazz hands.
—Melissa Amos, technical writer

Barbara Saunders | How to write

I am having so much fun with this book.
—Barbara Saunders, writer

Tom Klammer | How to write

I admire Marcia’s clarity and thoroughness. Her examples are excellent in that they illustrate distinctions admirably. She is fun to read.
—Thomas P. Klammer, coauthor of Analyzing English Grammar, on “You Don’t Know From Prepositions”

Linda Branam | How to write

Clever and clear, funny and wise. I’m a tech editor who wants to transition to fiction editing. Quotes from Word Up! will be more effective in my comments than those from some stuffy, grammar-geekish style guide (sorry, “Chicago”).
—Linda Branam, senior technical editor

PG Bartlett--how to write

Fun with words and a great read.
—P. G. Bartlett, head of product management for Acrolinx

Sherri Henkin--how to write

These lessons are Wheaties for writing!
—Sherri Henkin, author of Growing the Write Way blog
(See review)

David Hooker--how to write

In the last five minutes, I’ve deleted ten be-verbs and reworded four ofs. Thanks for teaching me.
—David Hooker, writer/editor at Prezi

Emily Menard--how to write

I enjoy the pace, tone, and momentum of this book. Once I get going, it’s hard to stop reading! I love the real-world perspective and candidness. Word Up! engages me as a professional writer but also seems accessible to people just diving into the world of writing.
—Emily Menard, M.A., tech writer, editor, formatting expert

Frank Mazur--how to write

Books on writing—the careful use of words and exercise of grammar—can be catonically dull, not because of the information they present, but because of the presentation itself. Not so in Word Up! by Marcia Riefer Johnston. This book is a fresh and humorous compilation that writer and nonwriter, adult and teen, will find invigorating. Thirty brief chapters, each digestible within a few minutes and in any order, will bring both understanding and chuckles to even the most jaded readers of grammar and word usage. And special segments, such as Johnston’s comic bit on how to obfuscate and wow your employer with just the “right” word comprising a deliberate surfeit of syllables, will produce outright laughter.
—Frank Mazur, fiction writer

Jacqui Licht--how to write

I am a flabby writer. That is the conclusion I came to after reading Marcia Riefer Johnston’s Word Up! Marcia has a way of highlighting common mistakes and showing us how to write power sentences—all with a sense of humour. Marcia’s style of writing (about grammar mind you) got me chuckling out loud.
—Jacqui Licht, technical writer

Wendy Hood | How to write

Like vitamin-enriched chocolate. This book brought me a smile as well as instruction.
—Wendy Hood, Marcia’s sister

Stella Robertson | How to write

Buy this book.
—Stella Robertson, Marcia’s mom

Seriously. Buy this book.
—Your mom

Word Up! Reviews around the Web

IndieReader Approved sticker

Adrienne Hartz on Word Up!:

(Filming and editing by Asia Brown)

You Can Say That Again Reviews around the Web

Last modified: October 21, 2022

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