Sound Writing was launched in 2019 as a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike text, culminating several years' work toward a writing handbook that is as accessible as possible—free of cost, screen-reader ready, and welcoming of the many identities that writers bring to their work. Though our text grows out of the particular local needs of students and faculty members at the University of Puget Sound, it is our hope that audiences beyond our campus will find the writing advice in this text to be useful and will adapt the text to their own local needs.
Sound Writing is the product of communal efforts over more than a decade, and we have many people to acknowledge. Julie Neff-Lippman—director of the Center for Writing, Learning, and Teaching (CWLT) from 1984 until 2011—laid the groundwork for this handbook, exploring the possibility of a Puget Sound writing handbook, working with writing advisors to develop many of the handouts still in use in the CWLT, and developing the culture of peer leadership in the CWLT that makes a project like this possible. Julie Nelson Christoph—director of the CWLT 2012–2018—has further developed the project, leading a pilot of some commercial handbooks, one of which was chosen and customized as the first Puget Sound writing handbook, in use from 2012–2017.
In 2015, conversations on campus about linguistic diversity, about the special role of writing in a liberal arts context, and about the benefits of online and freely accessible books made us wonder: Could Puget Sound develop its own writing handbook? And if we could, who would write it? How long would it take to write? What would the platform look like?
Supported by the leadership of Julie Nelson Christoph, Student Writing Advisors Kylie Young ('17, STS and SOAN major), Kieran O'Neil ('16, Biology major), and Cody Chun ('17, English major) took a chance in spring 2016 and applied for the somewhat nebulous job of being “Writing Handbook Developers.”
This handbook originated in conversations among the four authors—over coffee in Seattle; about articles we read and scholarly lectures we attended on language and learning; in the comfy chairs in the Center for Writing, Learning, and Teaching; over weekly transatlantic and transpacific Skype calls when our team was physically separated; and, always, through our abiding faith in the worth and importance of our project. Cody, Kieran, and Kylie composed the words you are about to read, using Julie as a sounding board, advisor, and editor through the process. The writers are grateful to Julie for her mentorship, her trust in us and our abilities, and her ever-inspiring guidance and gusto.
As with any group project, part of the work has been identifying individual talents and coordinating efforts. We've been extremely fortunate in having a diverse range of interests and disciplinary backgrounds represented on the team. We've all learned a great deal about writing and collaboration from each other, and the team as a whole has coordinated efforts so that the project has progressed continuously, sometimes with the full team, sometimes with individual members stepping up and doing more when others were unable to do so. The collaborative process and support has been truly remarkable.
Many, many thanks go to former Associate Dean Martin Jackson for supporting the project in countless ways from the very earliest moment; this has been a huge project to undertake, and your willingness to entertain the possibility, to find the funding, to bounce ideas, and even to pinch-hit as a programmer have been invaluable.
Isabelle Anderson ('18, Chemistry and English major) was the first annual writing handbook developer and met with departments at Puget Sound to listen to faculty and develop many of the disciplinary writing guidelines that appear here. Sarah Walling-Bell ('20, Computer Science) accomplished significant revisions to the Writing with Awareness chapter, incorporating important contributions of student members of identity-based groups on our campus. Jordan Fonseca ('18, Physics and Mathematics) substantially revised the content on strategies for academic success and improved the consistency of coding throughout the handbook. Bethany Llewellyn (’21, Biology and Environmental Policy and Decision Making) has continued the work of keeping the handbook up to date and is largely responsible for the revisions to this edition that widen access to Sound Writing to users outside of Puget Sound; she's spent countless hours considering ways that we might, for instance, replace the Puget Sound-specific references to "Grizz" and "President Crawford" to more universally relevant terms. We, the initial writers, are grateful for our successors' willingness to improve the book that has come to mean so much to us.
Special thanks go to Rob Beezer for developing the fabulous PreTeXt (née MathBook XML) format and for taking a chance on a non-math project. Rob's technical expertise has enabled us to realize our initially vague desires to create a text that would be accessible in multiple senses of the word. Without Rob's collaboration, our hopes for the reach of our text could not have been developed to the extent they are here, and we look forward to our continued collaboration and to the new audiences that PreTeXt will facilitate.
Thanks also to Jahrme Risner ('18, Math and Computer Science major) for inputting all those Google Docs into the PreTeXt format, fielding feedback in multiple platforms and from multiple people with aplomb. Cara Farnell, Bethany Llewellyn '21, and Rob Beezer have continued that work. We are grateful to Sarah Stall, Michaela Alden, and Julie Reynolds for helping us consider design options for the handbook and, especially, for Sarah's intensive work proofreading a near-final draft. Fletcher Crone '25 created the cover design.
We would also like to thank Geoffrey Block, Bill Breitenbach, Gwynne Brown, Kris Imbrigotta, Chris Kendall, Kriszta Kotsis, and Amy Spivey for making the time to be interviewed about writing, writing process, and advice to student writers. We also thank the departments who have shared faculty meeting time with us to develop discipline-specific writing guidelines and the student groups who have given generously of their time and experiences to develop the Writing With Awareness chapter. Thank you, as well, to Fallon Boyle, Bill Breitenbach, Nancy Bristow, Bev Conner, George Erving, Will Gent, Dexter Gordon, Priti Joshi, Pierre Ly, Julie Neff-Lippman, Helen Shears, Ariela Tubert, and Kara Widergren for their assistance with the example student papers and writing prompts. Thank you to Rachael Shelden of the CWLT for her guidance on student success strategies and to the many student writing advisors who have shared this book with classes at Puget Sound and have strengthened the ongoing feedback loop with our readers. As always, thank you to Peggy Burge, Jane Carlin, and everyone at Collins Memorial Library for your collaboration. And thank you to the many Puget Sound students and faculty who have responded to surveys and participated in focus groups and discussions that have shaped this book.
Perhaps our greatest thanks are to you, our users! Thank you for using the Puget Sound writing handbook. We hope you will enjoy using it and that it will inspire you—as it has us—to think critically about language, to talk with each other about writing, and to engage in the communal effort that is at the heart of scholarship. Sound Writing is a living document and will continue to be revised online; please collaborate by sending your comments and suggestions to
firstname.lastname@example.org 1 .