- Paperback: 105 pages
- Publisher: Pearson; 4th edition (August 2, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780205309023
- ISBN-13: 978-0205309023
- ASIN: 020530902X
- Product Dimensions: 4.5 x 0.4 x 6.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 2,822 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #276 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition 4th Edition
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"...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."
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Top customer reviews
Back when I worked for a newspaper, one of my editors was trying to get a review of mine on a particular page, which meant he needed to edit a little bit out ... he came back and told me - I couldn't edit your review. Every word was essential. - YES. Thank you, Strunk & White.
I purchased a used copy of this book as part of a graduation gift for my 18 year old nephew who recently sent me an e mail that shocked me since he is an honor student at his high school. For someone so bright his writing skills have much to be desired, no doubt in part due to extensive use of text messaging amongst teens (and some adults) these days. Though he's majoring in physics he will still have to take basic general education courses which will involve some degree of composition. He'll probably thank me after he gets the first C in his life in English 101.
I read it decades ago and remember it being more helpful than I found it this time around. I read it again after assigning it to students (based on my memory). When I reread it, looking for pieces to assign students and quiz them about, it was hard to do.
I don't think it would be very helpful to students of this generation (millennials).
It's also a great "gift" to give college writers who know how to write for the web, but also at least understand basic rules of writing!
And what a celebration it is!
The first thing noticed is how familiar the original text is. The same outline format, the same structure, the same sage (and somewhat whimsical) advice that is in the current (4th) edition is there in the first--in all its unvarnished glory.
That is a glowing testament both to Mr. Strunk's genius and enduring power. Dr. Boyd K. Packer noted, "Refined substance combined with brevity are very difficult indeed to achieve." And Strunk was up to the task. Consider other style- and writing- guides, their quiddities and quillets, their hair-splitting and niggling, with the resulting volume. Then flip through this 1st edition, which maxes out at 52 pages. You see why this book is so popular.
And why it is so useful.
Even so, there are noticeable differences between the 1st and 4th editions. The first is the accruals to the text. The 3rd edition included an index by Lawrence W. Mazzeno; the fourth had glossary by Robert DiYanni. Both of these are welcome helps.
But some of the other accruals are not so helpful. White's introduction is helpful in explaining the whys and wherefores of "The Little Book," and about the man William Strunk, Jr. Roger Angell's foreword, thought interesting, is more for a book on motivating writers, such as "Zen in the Art of Writing: Essays on Creativity" by Ray Bradbury. And Charles Osgood's afterword (really a testimonial) does not add anything to the text. Again, it does have a place *somewhere*, but not necessarily in this book.
As to White's revision of Strunk's text, almost all of the changes are needed. The spelling and exercise sections were excised and have not been missed."An Approach to Style," White's biggest inclusion, is helpful to floundering wordsmiths. And his philosophical discussion of what exactly is good writing spurs thought and discussion.
Yet, there is one exception. One section should have been left intact, "Section II: Elementary Principles of Composition." White kept most of Strunk's ideas, but excised the sections on outlining, and the paragraphs that were diagrammed. This is a pity, since the outline is a writer's crucial tool.
Ayn Rand ("Atlas Shrugged") celebrated outlining. She asserts, "No beginner should write without an outline. If I could enforce this as an absolute, I would. ... One reason for the dreadful articles in our media is that they are written without outlines, and thus fall apart structurally" ("The Art of Nonfiction: A Guide for Writers and Readers," Ch. 5).
So it is worth the price and than bother to track this edition down just for Strunk's comments on outlining. Everything else a writer would need is found in the current edition--suggestions, clarifications, and Strunkian motivation and celebration:
"Vigorous writing is concise ..."
NOTE: Since the 1st edition has passed into the public domain, Amazon.com has been bombarded with various reprint editions. ISBN: 978-9562916462 was used in this review. It is a photographic reprint of the original book. This adds to the excitement of reading, since we see the text as E. B. White--and even Strunk himself--used 100 years ago at Cornell. Other editions have reset type and text, and are easier on the eye. I prefer the reprint editions. The text tastes of authentic history.
And, of course, the current edition, either hardback (The Elements of Style (4th Edition)) or softback (The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition).