558 of 592 people found the following review helpful
on August 27, 2001
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.
142 of 148 people found the following review helpful
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.
235 of 255 people found the following review helpful
on August 24, 2011
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.
202 of 220 people found the following review helpful
on June 7, 2003
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.
101 of 108 people found the following review helpful
on October 28, 2005
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.
96 of 103 people found the following review helpful
on July 6, 2010
First of all, I want to make it clear that I love this book. I borrowed it from a friend a few years ago, which is why I thought it was high time I got my own copy. Unfortunately, once I did, I found that the actual quality of the printing of this edition is horrible. The paper feels cheap and the text looks as if it were poorly photocopied. You would definitely not expect this from an edition billed as "more durable and elegantly bound edition". The only good thing I could say about this edition is that the cover is indeed beautiful, which is a good thing if all you want is something that looks nice on a bookshelf.
I recommend the 4th edition instead.
433 of 483 people found the following review helpful
on March 19, 2001
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.
150 of 165 people found the following review helpful
on October 20, 2005
Strunk and White's Elements of Style is the absolute classic guidebook to grammar and to clear writing. It is underpinned by a simple philosophy of making every word count. The paperback edition resides on millions of desks world-wide: a wise guide to people who appreciate words and clear communication.
But here's a hardback edition, beautifully illustrated. Why not just go for the paperback? The answer is because Elements of Style has become much more than a reference text: it is an icon, and this edition is like a glorious piece of birthday cake that celebrates the fact that we've been in the presence of a faithful and inspiring servant for almost 50 years. Elements of Style is a classic that retains a resilient role even (or especially) in this age of txt.
If you love artful writing, buy a copy for yourself. For any friend who cherishes the written word, this book is the perfect gift. It allows us to stop, to marvel and to appreciate the power of simple truths, well told.
107 of 118 people found the following review helpful
on November 28, 2011
If you look on Kindle for "Strunk and White" you get this. The description even says Elements of Style, known colloquially as Strunk and White. It is, alas, not Strunk and White, but Strunk alone, a facsimile of the 1918 original (long before E.B. White lent his hand).
If you liked White's improvements and want to read that on Kindle, beware. Saying this edition is Strunk and White is like saying "Imagine" is by someone colloquially known as "Lennon and McCartney."
57 of 62 people found the following review helpful
on June 30, 2007
"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. Therefore, I would not advise using this book "religiously" as something obliging. Rather, it is best used as a useful reference for certain things. Some rules you might not agree with, but most of them are just plain common sense of English writing, and rules like the ones I listed above are decidedly essential.