The only problem with The Complete Idiot's Guide to Meeting and Event Planning (Alpha Books, 2001) is the title (do you really want to hand it to a new hire?), but who are we to argue with success? The brand-name educational books now cover more than 300 subjects, from cigars to poetry.

The book deals with everything from goal setting to software to negotiations to registration and housing — and that's not the half of it. This A-to-Z approach means that some subjects get rudimentary treatment, but that's just fine for a beginner.

Each chapter begins with a bulleted summary and ends with a box titled “The Least You Need to Know.” Along the way, chapters are broken into bite-size bits and dotted with four must-read sidebars:

Meeting Speakone or two terms of the trade. (Could you define attrition, fam trip, or lavaliere when you first started?)

Don't Drop the Balla heads-up about common mistakes. For example, take a mock-up of your mailer to the post office to be sure it complies with size and weight restrictions.

Food for Thoughtadvice and helpful tips

The Inside Scoop — industry practices explained. For example, one box discusses the lack of standardized planning documents in the meeting industry.

The appendices include checklists, sample forms, industry Web sites, and a glossary. Thankfully, there's an extensive index. For more information, visit