Write to the Point

A funny, intelligent and practical guide to clear, correct and persuasive writing


This is the second in my series where I recommend books that I’ve been impressed by, learned from or simply enjoyed.

We’re all writers these days. You may be creating a new marketing campaign, writing your company’s call scripts or updating your website. You may want your email to raise more money for Julie’s present on the office whip-round. You may want your teenage kids to answer your texts. Or you may want more likes on your LinkedIn post.

It doesn’t matter which – they’re all important. And you’ll get a better response to them all when what you write is clear and well thought-out.

This book will help you do that.

Write to the Point by Sam Leith

What this book is about

It’s a warm-hearted, good-humoured and intelligent guide to persuasive writing (although Dan Brown, author of The Da Vinci Code, may contest my warm-hearted claim – he takes a bit of a hammering).

Who wrote it

It’s written by Sam Leith. He’s an author, journalist and literary editor at the Spectator. He’s written widely for the UK press including the Guardian, the TLS, the Financial Times and the Evening Standard. I first came across him when he had a column, Leith on Language, in Prospect magazine.

And yes, he is related to Prue Leith – she’s his auntie.

What the book covers

The book has eight chapters which take you from a practical guide to what language is, how speaking, writing and reading differ, right through to advice on writing an essay, your CV or even a tweet.

Why you should read it

You’ll be shocked when you find out how much you already know about grammar, even though you may not have known you knew this stuff. (I bet you’re thinking of either Donald Rumsfeld or an episode of Friends right now.)

It’s thorough. You can learn about everything from how our brains handle language to the correct way to address a Dame.

And it’s practical. Take this paragraph from his introduction to ‘the basic workings of English prose from the different parts of speech to the grammar and punctuation that organises them into sense-making sentences.’

‘…just as having a rough sense of how a car engine works might help you when you break down on the side of a motorway, having a basic technical vocabulary to talk about sentences will help you fix them.’

Why I recommend it

Even after eight years of writing for a living I learned a lot from Write to the Point. My copy is now dog-eared with folded down corners, notes and highlights marking sections I know I’ll come back to again and again.

I thoroughly enjoyed it too. Sam Leith is funny – at times I laughed out loud. And he’s human. He’s not a grammar Nazi. This is an entertaining and practical guide to more persuasive writing.

Others who recommend it

Reviewers on Amazon said: A grown up book but accessible; a clear description of the English language and how it should be written; stimulating, challenging and witty; a masterclass in communication; has you smiling pretty much all the way through.

The Observer said: ‘Useful, and persuasive.’

The Times Literary Supplement said: ‘[A] first-class guide.’

And The Oldie said: ‘Style guides are generally wine and water but this one… is pure wine.’


Hello. I’m Sarah Russell, a freelance copywriter from near Cardiff in south Wales.

Cheryl Barnes said: ‘Sarah has an incredible knack for getting under the skin of a business and finding exactly the right words to sum it up and promote it a compelling way.’

 I can do the same for you.

Call me on: 01873 776 153

Email me at: info@sarahrussellwriting.co.uk

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Thank you for reading my blog. I hope you found something in it to help or inspire you, or to make you smile. Please feel free to share it.