The Broadview Guide to Writing. 2nd ed.


413 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 1-55111-424-0
DDC 808'.042





Reviewed by Sarah Robertson

Sarah Robertson is the editor of the Canadian Book Review Annual.


With its bland interior design, lack of second color for highlights, and
bulky, space-hogging paper stock, the second edition of The Broadview
Guide to Writing falls far short of the competition, esthetically
speaking. But there are compensations. Babington, director of the
Writing Center at Queen’s University, and LePan, author of The
Cognitive Revolution in Western Culture (1999), are thoughtful,
judicious arbiters of style and usage matters. Their book is
comprehensive, lucidly written, and competitively priced.

Section dividers and side headings facilitate navigation of the
book’s 10 parts and four appendixes, which cover the writing process,
grammar, word order, writing by computer, bias-free language,
punctuation, spelling, and documentation, among other familiar topics.
The authors provide plenty of examples (which generally take the form of
a needs checking and revised structure) and use the book’s sample
essay—a university-level essay titled “Research or Racism: A
Question of Academic Freedom”—to illustrate aspects of the writing
process. The two documentation sections cover APA style, Chicago style,
CBE style, and MLA style, with a strong emphasis on the latter; it’s
perplexing that the Broadview Guide contradicts these authorities by
hyphenating compounds that include an adverb ending in -ly (e.g.,
“widely-adopted textbook”).

Babington and LePan endorse standard English but vigorously “resist
the assumption that where the English language is concerned, change
implies debasement.” “What was a fuzzy and confusing coinage in the
1950s,” they write in reference to the verb finalize, “has found a
clearly-defined place in the language of the 1990s.” In a similar
vein, they applaud “the move towards bias-free language,” and would
be happy to see a return to Shakespeare’s use of “they or their to
refer to anyone and everyone.”

A caveat for students or instructors who have LePan’s The Broadview
Book of Common Errors in English (3rd ed., 1998) in their personal
libraries: much of the material in that book is reproduced, word for
word, in the Broadview Guide.


Babington, Doug, and Don LePan., “The Broadview Guide to Writing. 2nd ed.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 17, 2024,