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Economical Writing

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  367 ratings  ·  41 reviews
A valuable short guide for mastering the craft of academic writing! Students and young professionals who care about direct, clear expression should read this lucid, delightful gem by an author who practices what she advises. McCloskey s systematic treatment provides a range of insights and practical advice for better writing by scholars in every field.
Hardcover, Second Edition, 98 pages
Published January 1st 2000 by Waveland Press (first published May 1999)
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Average rating 4.25  · 
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 ·  367 ratings  ·  41 reviews


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Matt C
May 19, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Two spaces after a comma is barbaric

This deserves four stars, but lost one due to the completely baffling decision to advise readers to include two spaces after a comma.
Patrick
Mar 01, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Certainly economical

JDN 2456722 PDT 15:29.

A review of Economical Writing by Deirdre McCloskey

There is a certain paradox inherent in the "style manual": Legislating style is like legislating personality. If we all followed such manuals to the letter, we'd all sound alike, and the world would be a boring place indeed. There are on the other hand certain useful things one can say, just as there are certain personality types we can all agree are unhealthy (e.g. obsessive-compulsive, antisocial).
...more
Antonia Malvino
Dec 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Highly enjoyable and on point. This book made me think and laugh and highlight many parts. She had my rapt attention throughout and so I wrote this review before finishing and was condemned to revise it with each new freshet of wit shared. The author has a great sense of humor!
Trey Malone
Jul 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I would never claim that I'm a great writer, but as I finish my PhD in applied economics, I've found that there are three surefire ways to improve your writing. First, you need practice and meaningful feedback. Second, you need to be critically examining other comparable texts constantly so you can see what good writing looks like. And third, you should buy this book and thumb through it often. McCloskey lays out some very insightful guidelines for crafting a strong economic argument, and anyone ...more
Don Lim
May 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
McCloskey does not provide any new advice on writing better, but she does collect existing advice from other books and compiles them, focusing more specifically on writing in the subject of economics. Although some of her advice is a bit dated (such as using two spaces after a period, question mark, or exclamation mark), many are useful and would improve writing, if kept in mind. A few examples include: reading out loud, use active verbs, be concise and clear, rewrite and revise, etc. All these ...more
John  Mihelic
Jun 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Most academics probably last took a class in writing their freshman year, maybe sophomore unless they are of the sort who found a way to test out of that. (And oddly enough the ones with the least training in writing are the most didactic about how a paper looks - inhaled some sport of prescriptivism in eight grade and never let it go.) Even those of us who beleive in constant improvement can benefit from multiple angles. This is a strunk and white for the social science set, and using it to ...more
Nicky
Nov 11, 2018 rated it liked it
This is not the best style guide of ever read. I feel like theres a lot better books, but I hope riders figure out how to do their practice. And some of the rules that she included were arbitrary, or at least fault arbitrary, which you can write another reviews. The thing that I want to talk about the most though, is her tone. Her tone feel so like such a slap in the face. And someways, it feels condescending and that she doesnt redid the her audience. ...more
Chloe' Henson
Jun 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Transitioning from undergraduate to graduate writing techniques is very difficult for me. I've gotten several papers back with red marks all over them. After reading this, I understood why I was receiving so many red marks. The author lays out several rules and details that help the reader understand more efficient ways to write exactly what you are meaning to say. I wouldn't say it is a "how-to" book, but this book has definitely helped me already in my writing.
Alexia
Amazing book on how to write better

I only found out about this book because it is required reading for one of my postgraduate courses. Kudos to my professor, because this book is incredible.

McCloskey's writing is so succinct, friendly and easy to read, and her advice on writing is already helping me improve my uni assignments. I'd definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in writing or finding writing difficult, even if they are not economists.
Antonn Park
Jan 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Great read but I had some issues with three tips, which aren't tips because they are incorrect: use two spaces after a period, create proper nouns out of thin air, and put commas wherever you want. I hope that the newer edition (coming out in April and published by Univ. of Chicago Press this time) will omit these three suggestions.
Max Lauber
Jun 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This slim book probably taught me more about writing in a week than two and a half years of Language Skills and Culture did. Although the book targets economists specifically, I recommend it to anyone who wants to improve their writing.
Nick Stumo-Langer
A slim volume that I can't wait to return to while I write. McCloskey is firm and proscriptive but never unbending in her recommendations. She wants us all to be better writers and readers. I cannot wait to try.
Phoebe Phelange
Oct 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A short book jam packed with good advice (though there were a few I did not agree with). Definitely a must-read for any aspiring scientists/social scientists!

Rachel Crowley
Jan 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book provides ample opportunities to evaluate the reader's writing. The author provides a variety of insights that are obvious when pointed out, but are often ignored.
Aram Kokoy
Mar 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
If you are an undergraduate or a graduate students in economics, this is a bible for you.
Morgan Rasco
Mar 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Funny & informational! Definitely would recommend if you want to improve your writing skills.
Jadrian Wooten
Jun 25, 2017 rated it liked it
It was cute, but I'm not sure how useful it will really be.
Jack Raia
Jan 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Book makes the point that much of academic writing is terrible. Clarity is stressed along with ways to make writing readable. Fast read.
Ben Labe
Jan 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Deirdre McCloskey is an adequate writer, which is to say, a better writer than almost all economists. Most writing handbooks are exactly what they most admonish: unreadable. They tend to be dry and uninviting. Understanding that irony well, McCloskey has imbued "Economical Writing" with just enough wit and excursus to make it pleasurable. The book's funniest moments are when she sneaks the mistakes that she is describing into her descriptions of them, as in the chapter titled "The Order Around ...more
Sarah
Jun 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
"In brief, then: We can do better, much better, than the say-what-you're-going-to-say, elegant variation, inefficient exposition, boilerplate, incoherent paragraphs, impenetrable tables, unemphatic word order, straggling sentences, contrived triplets, verbosity, nominalization, passive verbs, barbaric neologisms, abstractions, five-dollar words, teutonisms, acronyms, this-es, and fractured idioms of modern economic prose. Please. For our splendid science."
Elizabeth
Jan 08, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2012
If you are so pressed for time (but still feel the need to read a style book) that you cannot bear to pick one that is over 100 pages up, this is the text for you. If not, read Joseph Williams' Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace, which is both richer in the similar advice it gives and more timeless in the ways it diverges from McCloskey.

Joshua Smith
May 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: technical
I read this book after reading Chris Blattman's blog post. the author accomplished her goal with this book: it is built from several short (2 page or so) chapters that can be read independently, but arranged in a sensible way. This book will be good as a reference, similar to Strunk & White.
A.L.
Jun 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing
Improve your prose through the Game of Writing. Not sure if it is quite as fun as the Game of Thrones, but there is definitely less death involved. On a more serious note, this short and sweet book will definitely benefit students and academics. But I would also recommend it to anyone interested in improving their writing quality
Jason
Sep 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Economists, Social Scientists
An entertaining and insightful book that should help any economist or social scientist become a better writer. "The big secret in economics is that good writing pays well and bad writing pays poorly."
C.J.
Dec 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
A small, simple, and concise book that talk about the techniques and mindset that the writers in economics should know about. The writing itself is concise and down-to-earth making the reading very enjoyable.
N.D. Hendrix
Apr 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
Somewhat outdated in parts (seriously, two spaces after a period??), but otherwise a useful way to write clearly and in a reader-friendly way. Her emphasis on accessible argument is a balm to the interdisciplinary soul, who often finds himself reading articles outside his field.
Naeem
Oct 27, 2007 rated it liked it
This one is short, efficient, and to the point. I can never work long enough on making my writing clear. McClosky demonstrates what it takes to write clearly.
Bill Zhou
Mar 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: economics
The way to write a paper in Economics.
Priscilla Previl
May 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
One of the best guides ever for writing clearly.
Graeme Roberts
Apr 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A necessary addition to the writer's bookshelf, not just for economists.
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Deirdre Nansen McCloskey has been distinguished professor of economics and history and professor of English and communications at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is the author of numerous books, including Bourgeois Equality: How Ideas, Not Capital or Institutions, Enriched the World.

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