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The Elements of Style (4th Edition) 4th Edition

1,861 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0205313426
ISBN-10: 0205313426
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

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.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 105 pages
  • Publisher: Longman; 4th edition (September 3, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0205313426
  • ISBN-13: 978-0205313426
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.5 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,861 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,406 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

558 of 592 people found the following review helpful By Christopher B. Jonnes on August 27, 2001
Format: Paperback
When I write a book I use only a handful of reference tools: dictionary, thesaurus, Gregg's Reference Handbook, Writers Market, and the Elements of Style. Strunk and White is a wonderfully-written, extraordinarily concise tool that pays homage to classic high-end English. It takes language insight to make this prediction in 1979: "By the time this paragraph makes print, uptight... rap, dude, vibes, copout, and funky will be the words of yesteryear." The book begins with eleven "Elementary Rules of Usage," and then continues with eleven more "Elementary Rules of Composition," and eleven "Matters of Form." Each is presented as a brief statement followed by another sentence or two of explanation and a few clarifying examples. This amazing compilation fills only thirty-eight pages, yet covers ninety percent of good writing fundamentals. My favorite section is Chapter IV, a twenty-seven-page, alphabetical listing of commonly misused words and expressions. Here's a trade secret: when my manuscript is "done," I then turn to this chapter and use my word processor's Find function to study every instance of all these problematic words and phrases. I never fail to find errors this way. Many great writers are so only because they've learned to make use of the best available tools. The end of the book contains an essay on "An Approach to Style" with a list of twenty-one "Reminders." Those who fight the apparently-natural tendency to go against these recommendations succeed as writers. Those who don't, fail. It's that simple. The single drawback of The Elements of Style is that it's too concise; it does not stand alone as an all-encompassing tutorial or reference guide. Many readers will seek other sources for more in-depth explanation of style elements. Despite that, it easily replaces ten pounds of other reference material. --Christopher Bonn Jonnes, author of Wake Up Dead.
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141 of 147 people found the following review helpful By E. Bukowsky HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 20, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This jazzy edition of the classic "The Elements of Style," by Strunk and White, features stylized, exuberant, riotously colorful, and often whimsical illustrations by Maira Kalman. In addition, a few references have been changed to make the book more relevant. For instance, in the earlier edition, the authors cautioned against the use of acronyms with this example: "Not everyone knows that SALT means Strategic Arms Limitation Talks." The new edition states, "Not everyone knows that MADD means Mothers Against Drunk Driving." In the section on slang, Strunk and White advised writers to use standard language and avoid such words as "uptight, groovy, rap, hangup, vibes, copout, and dig." In the new edition, examples of slang are "psyched, nerd, ripoff, dude, geek, and funky." Strunk and White advocated "using scissors on the manuscript, cutting it to pieces and fitting the pieces together in a better order." In the current edition, writers are encouraged to use a word processor to move text from place to place.

Is a new edition of this handbook really necessary? I believe that it is, not only because of the archaic references that needed updating, but also because today's younger writers need visual stimulation and pizazz to capture their attention; this edition has both. Strunk and White's words of wisdom are, for the most part, reprinted as they appeared in earlier editions. The authors discuss such topics as elementary rules of usage, principles of composition and form, words commnonly misused, and tips on how to develop an effective and natural style. Even experienced writers would do well to review "The Elements of Style" now and then to remind them of the importance of clarity, brevity, simplicity, and consistency.
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235 of 255 people found the following review helpful By Judah on August 24, 2011
Format: Paperback
This is a public domain version of an old 1919 copy of a grammar text by William Strunk Jr. It is not useful. Writing standards are different in 2011 compared with 1919.

"The Elements of Style (4th Edition)" by William Strunk (Author), E. B. White (Author), Roger Angell (Foreword) is what you want to buy.
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201 of 219 people found the following review helpful By Peggy Vincent on June 7, 2003
Format: Paperback
As the 'rules' in this iconic book take up only 14 pages, it continually amazes me how often I can find the answer to a grammar or punctuation guestion within those pages. It doesn't cover everything, and some of the 'rules' are of course changing with the passage of time - but if a wannabe writer can't afford a whole bookcase of tomes on How to Write, then this is the one he or she should buy.
Beyond those 14 pithy pages, however, are another 100 or so that extend the value of the book immeasurably: Principles of Composition, Commonly Misused Words, and perhaps the most valuable: An Approach to Style, which gives excellent advice along the lines of Do not overwrite, Avoid qualifiers, Don't over-explain, Avoid adverbs, Avoid dialect, Don't inject opinion, and tons of others.
When all's said and done, however, one of the very best parts is a wonderful essay by the inimitable EB White himself - the Introduction, which serves as a perfect example of all that the rest of the small book preaches: write concisely, clearly, and well, and say something worthwhile.
Other books for writers to consider: Bird by Bird, On Writing, and Writing Down the Bones.
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101 of 108 people found the following review helpful By pistachio on October 28, 2005
Format: Hardcover
For the reviewer who pines for life as it was 50 years ago, actually in 1959, William Strunk Jr.'s Elements of Style, which had gone out of print at that point, was revised by a former student of Strunk's, E.B. White. This 2005 revision takes nothing away from the book, but reconsiders the original from a design perspective. As far as I'm concerned, the cloth cover, the 57 color illustrations, the high-quality printing, only add to the pure pleasure of reading or re-reading this book.
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