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The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition Paperback – Picture Book, August 2, 1999

ISBN-13: 978-0205309023 ISBN-10: 020530902X Edition: 4th

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 105 pages
  • Publisher: Longman; 4th edition (August 2, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 020530902X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0205309023
  • Product Dimensions: 4.5 x 0.2 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,058 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #133 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"...a marvellous and timeless little book... Here, succinctly, elegantly and without fuss are the essentials of writing clear, correct English." John Clare, "The Telegraph"

From the Back Cover

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

Customer Reviews

It is concise and clearly written as well as very easy to use.
Veridad
This book is a must for anyone wanting to write well--not just for professional or aspiring writers.
bixodoido
Strunk and White's Elements of Style is still the most useful tool for clear and concise writing.
Thomas H. Alton

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

518 of 547 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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188 of 203 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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420 of 469 people found the following review helpful By EMAN NEP on March 19, 2001
Format: Paperback
While skimming through Stephen King's book ON WRITING, he highly recommended THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE. Taking his advice I searched for a copy and found one in a free bin--of all places! I looked at it and decided that it was so much better than any other textbook that I had seen that I decided to WRITE IT. Three pages a day for a month or so. It's a very short book, only about 80 pages or so. You learn everything from words that are often spelled wrong, to punctuation, to style, etc. Very blunt and to the point. No exercises in here, problems 1 - 10 all. Nope, you just read this book and enjoy it. Why, there's actually a little humor in it at times, which is pretty good for a textbook. Now I've heard some people say that this book is bad because it is saying to follow all these rules and don't stray from them. I think they got it all wrong. This book is essentially saying this: you can't blaze new trails in the English language without having a solid foundation in the basics first! This goes for ANYTHING. You don't suddenly set off an a 200 mile trek, you slowly work up to it, starting from the basics. After you have mastered the basics, then you can break free. One thing that this book continually points out is that it is OFTEN A MATTER OF EAR. Meaning that if you are experienced enough, you will know whether to stick to the traditional or whether to be liberal when phrasing something, for example. By far this is the most talked-about textbook that I've seen and the most valuable.
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56 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Eli Bendersky on June 30, 2007
Format: Hardcover
"The Elements of Style" was written by E.B. White in the 1950s. It is a revised and expanded version of a booklet used by his English professor William Strunk Jr. in 1919. During the years since its publication, the book reached the fourth edition, modernized and more suitable for the times (and the changes in language).

While this book was originally aimed at writers (of books and newspaper articles), solid writing skills are important for everyone. In these days of the content-rich web, people spend a lot of their collaboration time online. Blog entries, comments, forum and mailing list posts are quite a bit of writing, and one has to follow some simple but important rules to write correctly and effectively.

What's best about it is the size. These days, when the feeling is that writers and publishers get paid by the weight of their huge tomes, it is refreshingly pleasant to hold a small pocket book of only 100 pages, packed with useful information. The guidelines for correct writing are presented as a list of rules, divided to a few subtopics, with a well-selected index making things easy to find.

The book answers some of the most common doubts in writing English text:

1. Correct usage of punctuation: commas, colons, semicolons, dashes and periods.
2. Possessive singulars of nouns ("Charles's book")
3. Using the active voice, positive form and definite, concrete language for making a point effectively.
4. Pairs of words that are commonly confused: among/between, inside of/inside, shall/will, that/which

On the downside, this book can be seen as overly pedantic. Some words it discourages to use are already ingrained in modern English, and the strict rules it contains aren't the best fit for all kinds of writing.
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The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition
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