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The Elements of Style: 50th Anniversary Edition

1,859 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0205632640
ISBN-10: 0205632645
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Editorial Reviews


"...a marvellous and timeless little book... Here, succinctly, elegantly and without fuss are the essentials of writing clear, correct English." John Clare, "The Telegraph" --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

You know the authors’ names. You recognize the title. You've probably used this book yourself. And now The Elements of Style—the most widely read and employed English style manual—is available in a specially bound 50th Anniversary Edition that offers the title's vast audience an opportunity to own a more durable and elegantly bound edition of this time-tested classic.

Offering the same content as the Fourth Edition, revised in 1999, the new casebound 50th Anniversary Edition includes a brief overview of the book's illustrious history. Used extensively by individual writers as well as high school and college students of writing, it has conveyed the principles of English style to millions of readers. This new deluxe edition makes the perfect gift for writers of any age and ability level.



Fifty Years of Acclaim for The Elements of Style, by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White


“I first read Elements of Style during the summer before I went off to Exeter, and I still direct my students at Harvard to their definition about the difference between 'that' and 'which.'  It is the Bible for good, clear writing.”

                        -- Henry Louis Gates Jr.


“For writers of all kinds and sizes the world begins and ends with Strunk and White’s Elements of Style. Only something to actually write about trumps the list of what is required to put words together in some kind of coherent way. I treasure its presence in my life and salute its fifty years of glory and accomplishment.”

                        -- Jim Lehrer


The Elements of Style remains an unwavering beacon of light in these grammatically troubled times.  I would be lost without it.”

                        -- Ann Patchett


"To the extent I know how to write clearly at all, I probably taught myself while I was teaching others -- seventh graders, in Flint, Michigan, in 1967.  I taught them with a copy of Strunk & White lying in full view on my desk, sort of in the way the Gideons leave Bibles in cheap hotel rooms, as a way of saying to the hapless inhabitant: ‘In case your reckless ways should strand you here, there's help.’  S&W doesn't really teach you how to write, it just tantalizingly reminds you that there's an orderly way to go about it, that clarity's ever your ideal, but -- really -- it's all going to be up to you."

                        -- Richard Ford



The Elements of Style never seems to go out of date. Its counsel is sound and funny, wise and unpretentious. And while its precepts are a foundation of direct communication, Strunk and White do not insist on a way of writing beyond clear expression. The rest is up to the imagination, the intelligence within.”

                        -- David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker


 “It’s the toughness—the irreverence and implicit laughter—that attracted me to the little book when I was seventeen. I fell in love with Strunk & White’s loathing for cant and bloviation, the ruthless cutting of crap, jargon, and extra words. For me, that skeptical directness included a tacit permission by The Elements of Style to break its rules on occasion: an alloy of generosity in the blade, a grace I still admire and still learn from.”

                        -- Robert Pinsky


“In the quest for clarity, one can have no better guides than Strunk and White. For me, their book has been invaluable and remains essential.”

                        -- Dan Rather


"Eschew surplusage! A perfect book."

                        --Jonathan Lethem


"Not until I started teaching writing and I reread The Elements of Style did I realize that

most everything I would be teaching young writers, and everything I would be learning myself as a writer, was contained between the covers of this slim, elegant, wise little book."

                        -- Julia Alvarez


 “Strunk and White seared their way into my brain long ago, and I benefit from them daily.”

                        -- Stephen J. Dubner, co-author of Freakonomics


“Since high school, I have kept a copy of this book handy. That should be unnecessary. I should, by now, have fully internalized The Elements of Style. But sometimes I get entangled in a paragraph that refuses to be ‘clear, brief, bold.’ I dip back into The Elements of Style and am refreshed.

     After Scott Simon interviewed me on NPR about whether the word ‘e-mail’ needs a hyphen (yes, it does), some listeners, including friends of mine, wondered why I had answered in the affirmative when asked, in passing, ‘Are you a drunken white man?’ Those listeners misheard. ‘Strunk and White man’ was what Scott said.”

                        -- Roy Blount Jr.


“Strunk & White--writing's good-natured law firm--still contains enough sparkling good sense to clean up the whole bloviating blogosphere."

                  -- Thomas Mallon


 “I used Strunk -- that’s what we called it, Strunk -- as a student at Berkeley fifty years ago.  I didn't know that it was new, and that we were the first generation to be educated in The Elements of Style.  I got a firm foundation in the English language, learned to write basically, and could depict the realistic world.  Then I was able to become an impressionist and expressionist.” 

                  -- Maxine Hong Kingston


 “Strunk and White's gigantic little book must be the most readable advice on writing ever written.  Side by side with Roget, Shakespeare, the Bible, and a dictionary, it's an essential for every writer's shelf.”

                        -- X.J. Kenned...


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Longman (October 25, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0205632645
  • ISBN-13: 978-0205632640
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.5 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,859 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #196,692 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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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234 of 254 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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