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Book Review: Microsoft Manual of Style, Fourth Edition by Microsoft Corporation

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The fourth edition of The Microsoft Manual of Style is a reference book for a variety of Microsoft users. As the cover claims it is the “ideal reference” for writers, editors, content creators, and content managers. It is definitely intended for computer professionals, rather than the average user — such as myself.

On this point, I was somewhat mistaken. I actually thought that The Microsoft Manual of Style was intended to clarify some of the more obscure terms used in Windows. That is not really the case here, although there is some material which could be of value for “the rest of us.”

Some of the material that I found helpful were some of the industry terminology and concepts. There is a great deal of clarification as to how exactly Microsoft expects those who develop content wants the accompanying literature to read. Although this information is very specific, and almost reads like Strunk and White’s classic The Elements of Style, I found some interesting explanations of terms which I had only basically guessed at before.

The Microsoft Manual of Style is definitely not Microsoft 7 For Dummies. I mistakenly thought that it might have been a bit more sophisticated version of such a handbook, and that is not the case at all. So, caveat emptor there.

If you are a programmer or, more precisely, a writer of manuals for programs, then this book is a must. Among the items included in the book which I did find useful, even as a non-programmer, was the glossary section, containing the proper usage of over a 1,000 terms and acronyms which all Microsoft users do come into contact with pretty regularly.

Other elements of the book include guidance on style and grammar as well as emerging terminology and standards especially in consideration of writing web content. The book is published by the Microsoft Press, so there is no question that the content is definitive. Just be aware that the Microsoft Manual of Style is really not intended for the “general” public, but for professionals in the business. If you are one of those, however, then this book is a must. Even though a lot of the material contained inside is a little over my head — I still found it quite intriguing.

The Microsoft Manual of Style Fourth Edition is available through a number of sources, including Microsoft Press itself.

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