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Kessler and McDonald's WHEN WORDS COLLIDE is praised by students and professors alike for its straightforward and clear-almost conversational-presentation of grammar. This versatile grammar and usage handbook works for both beginning and continuing media writers, providing concise, clear explanations and examples, as well as quick and accurate answers to grammar or usage questions. The unique 'from writer to writer' perspective engages students and guides them firsthand through the writing process.

Lauren Kessler, University of Oregon

Lauren Kessler is professor and director of the Multimedia Journalism Master's Program at the University of Oregon as well as a national speaker, workshop leader, and founder and editor of ETUDE, the online magazine of narrative nonfiction. In addition, she is the author of three textbooks and seven works of narrative nonfiction, including MY TEENAGE WEREWOLF: A MOTHER, A DAUGHTER, A JOURNEY THROUGH THE THICKETS OF ADOLESCENCE, Pacific Northwest Book Award winner DANCING WITH ROSE (published in paperback as FINDING LIFE IN THE LAND OF ALZHEIMER'S), WASHINGTON POST bestseller CLEVER GIRL and LOS ANGELES TIMES bestseller THE HAPPY BOTTOM RIDING CLUB-–which David Letterman, in fierce competition with Oprah, chose as the first (and only) book for the Dave Letterman Book Club. She appeared twice on his late-night show. She is also the author of Oregon Book Award winner STUBBORN TWIG, which was chosen as the book for all Oregon to read in honor of the state's 2009 sesquicentennial. Dr. Kessler's journalism has appeared in THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE, LOS ANGELES TIMES MAGAZINE, O magazine, UTNE READER, THE NATION, and She received her Ph.D. from the University of Washington. Dr. Kessler blogs at out more at

Duncan McDonald, University of Oregon

Duncan McDonald is professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, where he also served as dean of the School of Journalism and Communications as well as vice president of Public Affairs and Development. He is a former deputy director of the Freedom Forum Media Studies Center at Columbia University. A former newspaper reporter, editor and publisher, he has co-authored texts in grammar, media writing, information gathering and graphics.
  • A focus on the dynamic, evolving, cross-platform, multi-media environment for today's writers.
  • An exploration of language in a different way than in past editions, with a revised chapter on The Sentence.
  • Updated and combined previous chapters on Agreement and Case, and omitted the chapter on spelling, moving this important subject into two quick, accessible new Appendices.
  • The "Topical Guide to Grammar and Word Use," included with the text, provides an easy and efficient way for students to look up correct usage.
  • Exercise Book: Exercises for When Words Collide, 8th edition complements the main text with 36 detailed exercises designed to reinforce the text's key concepts through hands-on practice using them.
  • This versatile text can be used both as an easy-to-use reference tool and as a grammar/usage textbook, making it a meaningful addition to any writer's bookshelf long after the course is complete.
  • Timeless and appropriate examples compare correct with incorrect uses,, giving students a chance to see and hear the difference.
  • A "Quickstart" chapter titled "Ten Little Secrets, Ten Big Mistakes" gets students engaged with the writing process right from the beginning of the text and provides them with great tips and tactics for successful writing.
  • Chapter 11 (Appropriate and Sensitive Language) covers the ""--isms"" of writing sexism,, racism,, ageism,, etc. and encourages students to be aware of and sensitive to these issues in their writing.
  • The text contains 3 Appendices on Spelling, Homonyms and Homophones, and Verb Forms.
  • Throughout the text, students will enjoy the authors' clear, concise explanations of important grammar issues delivered in a lighthearted, conversational tone.
1. Hey.
2. gmr: CWOT?
3. Ten Little Secrets, Ten Big Mistakes.
4. The Sentence.
5. Power and Precision: It Begins with the Verb.
6. The Rest of the Crew.
7. Are We in Agreement?
8. Punctuation: Graceful Movements, Confident Stops.
9. Clarity and Conciseness.
10. Style.
11. Appropriate and Sensitive Language.
Appendix A: Spelling.
Appendix B: Homonyms, Homophones, Spell-Checks, Oh My!
Appendix C: Irregular (Make That Troublesome) Verb Forms.

Textbook Only Options

Traditional eBook and Print Options

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  • ISBN-10: 1133381626
  • ISBN-13: 9781133381624
  • STARTING AT $15.49

  • ISBN-10: 0495572403
  • ISBN-13: 9780495572404
  • Bookstore Wholesale Price $92.50
  • RETAIL $122.95

  • ISBN-10: 049590144X
  • ISBN-13: 9780495901440
  • Bookstore Wholesale Price $111.50
  • RETAIL $147.95

"I believe it is the best grammar book out there, period. It is accessible in that it explains in an easy, understandable way concepts that can oftentimes be difficult to understand. It is neither condescending nor arrogant in its approach. The book is useful to the novice as well as the experienced writer, which is unusual… When Words Collide is the most important instrument in any writer's toolbox. It complements other writing books but is also essential as a stand-alone stylebook on writing and grammar."

"The first strength is its length/size. It's small enough that it doesn't seem to be a problem to carry around as a handy reference. The second is its clarity. It's written simply and to the point, and clearly demonstrates the principles its teaching. Last, it clearly has an advantage over many other writing books in that it's designed for media writers. "

Cengage provides a range of supplements that are updated in coordination with the main title selection. For more information about these supplements, contact your Learning Consultant.


Online Answer Key

ISBN: 9781285764368
Online Answer Key.

Student Workbook

ISBN: 9781305411067
Help your students apply the concepts presented in the text with this exercise workbook containing activities and exercises designed to give them the hands-on practice they need to build their confidence.

Web Site

ISBN: 9781285764375
This outstanding site features rich learning and test preparation resources-including chapter-by-chapter tutorial quizzes and a final exam.


Student Workbook

ISBN: 9781305411067
Apply what you are learning in the text with this workbook featuring thirty-six exercises that provide opportunities to practice key grammar concepts outlined in the text and will help you develop the skills you need to become a successful writer.

Web Site

ISBN: 9781285764375
This outstanding site features rich learning and test preparation resources-including chapter-by-chapter tutorial quizzes and a final exam.