The Elements of StylePaperback Elements of Style
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- Publisher: Longman Inc
- Format: Paperback | 105 pages
- Dimensions: 114mm x 183mm x 13mm | 136g
- Publication date: 2 August 1999
- Publication City/Country: New Jersey
- ISBN 10: 020530902X
- ISBN 13: 9780205309023
- Edition: 4
- Edition statement: 4 Revised ed of US ed
- Sales rank: 477
You know the authors' names. You recognize the title. You've probably used this book yourself. This is The Elements of Style, the classic style manual, now in a fourth edition. A new Foreword by Roger Angell reminds readers that the advice of Strunk & White is as valuable today as when it was first offered.This book's unique tone, wit and charm have conveyed the principles of English style to millions of readers. Use the fourth edition of "the little book" to make a big impact with writing.
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William Strunk, Jr. first used his own book, The Elements of Style, in 1919 for his English 8 course at Cornell University. The book was published in 1935 by Oliver Strunk. E. B. White was a student in Professor Strunk's class at Cornell, and used "the little book" for himself. Commissioned by Macmillan to revise Strunk's book, White edited the 1959 and 1972 editions of The Elements of Style.
By John Smithee 13 May 2012
"The Elements of Style" was recommended to me by Stephen King in his book "On Writing". I see it as basically filling in the gaps that King left in his book. King's book was more concerned with the practical matters of writing, whereas, TEOS is all about LANGUAGE and how to use it, which King only touched upon.
And this book certainly packs a lot of information and advice, especially given that it is only 85 pages long. It has five chapters. The first chapter is called ELEMENTARY RULES OF USAGE and contains eleven grammatical tips, from the use of commas and semi-colons to structuring of a sentence. The second chapter, ELEMENTARY PRINCIPLES OF COMPOSITION, is more about writing style and ways to keep your writing punchy and fresh. Chapter 3, A FEW MATTERS OF FORM, mostly concerns physical presentation of your work and may be more suitable to formal letter writing that fiction, but may be useful to other forms nonetheless. Chapter 4 is about WORDS AND EXPRESSIONS COMMONLY MISUSED and includes some of my pet hates, including those who turn "I couldn't care less" into "I could care less", thus completely destroying the meaning of the phrase. I also learned a few new things from this section. The fifth chapter is called AN APPROACH TO STYLE and contains 21 general tips, or "reminders", about how to keep your writing consistent and stop it going bad. A lot of my description here sounds very general and vague, and makes most of the sections sound the same, but trust me that it all makes sense and has a point in the book that I just can't quite explain - I need a bigger vocab!
There are one or two minor problems with the book. For example, as Stephen King points out, it says that the most important part of a sentence should always go at the end - but is "With a hammer he killed Frank" really better than "He killed Frank with a hammer"? I don't think so, either. Also, it seems to me that a lot of this advice, particular when it comes to grammar, depends on your own comforts and preferences and those of your editor and/or publisher. That doesn't mean we should pay it no heed, but I do believe that you can quite easily get away with ignoring half of this book's advice and still be a respected, published writer.
But overall, an excellent little book that I think every writer should read, whether they are beginners or highly experienced. The writing style of Strunk himself is straightforward and formal, occasionally venturing into humour and informality, which means that you are likely to learn something by reading it, but unlikely to be bored while doing so.
Highly recommended to writers of all talents.
"...a marvellous and timeless little book... Here, succinctly, elegantly and without fuss are the essentials of writing clear, correct English." John Clare, "The Telegraph"
Back cover copy
Some acclaim for previous editions: "Buy it, study it, enjoy it. It's as timeless as a book can be in our age of volubility." -- "The New York Times" "No book in shorter space, with fewer words, will help any writer more than this persistent little volume." -- "The Boston Globe" "White is one of the best stylists and most lucid minds in this country. What he says and his way of saying it are equally rewarding." -- "The Wall Street Journal" "The book remains a nonpareil: direct, correct, and delightful." -- "The New Yorker" ." . . Should be the daily companion of anyone who writes for a living, and for that matter, anyone who writes at all." -- "Greensboro (N.C.) Daily News" "This excellent book, which should go off to college with every freshman, is recognized as the best book of its kind we have." -- "St. Paul Dispatch - Pioneer Press "It's hard to imagine an engineer or a manager who doesn't need to express himself in English prose as part of his job. It's also hard to imagine a writer who will not be improved by a liberal application of "The Elements of Style."" -- "Telephone Engineer & Management"
Table of contents
FOREWORD. INTRODUCTION. I.ELEMENTARY RULES OF USAGE. 1.Form the Possessive Singular of Nouns by Adding 's. 2.In a Series of Three or More Terms with a Single Conjunction, Use a Comma after Each Term except the Last. 3.Enclose Parenthetic Expressions between Commas. 4.Place a Comma before a Conjunction Introducing an Independent Clause. 5.Do Not Join Independent Clauses with a Comma. 6.Do Not Break Sentences in Two. 7.Use a Colon after an Independent Clause to Introduce a List of Particulars, an Appositive, an Amplification, or an Illustrative Question. 8.Use a Dash to Set Off an Abrupt Break or Interruption and to Announce a Long Appositive or Summary. 9.The Number of the Subject Determines the Number of the Verb. 10.Use the Proper Case of Pronoun. 11.A Participial Phrase at the Beginning of the Sentence Must Refer to the Grammatical Subject. II.ELEMENTARY PRINCIPLES OF COMPOSITION. 12.Choose a Suitable Sesign and Hold to It. 13.Make the Paragraph the unit of Composition. 14.Use the Active Voice. 15.Put Statements in Positive Form. 16.Use Definite, Specific, Concrete Language. 17.Omit Needless Words. 18.Avoid a Succession of Loose Sentences. 19.Express Coordinate Ideas in Similar Form. 20.Keep Related Words Together. 21.In Summaries, Keep to One Tense. 22.Place the Emphatic Words of a Sentence at the End. III.A FEW MATTERS OF FORM. IV.WORDS AND EXPRESSIONS COMMONLY MISUSED. V.AN APPROACH TO STYLE (WITH A LIST OF REMINDERS). 1.Place Yourself in the Background. 2.Write in a Way That Comes Naturally. 3.Work From a Suitable Style. 4.Write with Nouns and Verbs. 5.Revise and Rewrite. 6.Do Not Overwrite. 7.Do Not Overstate. 8.Avoid the Use of Qualifiers. 9.Do Not Affect a Breezy Manner. 10.Use Orthodox Spelling. 11.Do Not Explain Too Much. 12.Do Not Construct Awkward Adverbs. 13.Make Sure the Reader Knows Who is Speaking. 14.Avoid Fancy Words. 15.Do Not Use Dialect Unless Your Ear Is Good. 16.Be Clear. 17.Do Not Inject Opinion. 18.Use Figures of Speech Sparingly. 19.Do Not Take Shortcuts at the Cost of Clarity. 20.Avoid Foreign Languages. 21.Prefer the Standard to the Offbeat. Afterword. Glossary.