- Paperback: 56 pages
- Publisher: Waking Lion Press (August 7, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1434102815
- ISBN-13: 978-1434102812
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.1 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (2,689 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,639,062 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Elements of Style: The Original Edition
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About the Author
William Strunk, Jr. (1869-1946) was professor of English at Cornell University. He wrote The Elements of Style back in 1918. He attended meetings of The Manuscript Club, which was "an informal Saturday-night gathering of students and professors interested in writing." There he met E.B. White, who would later revise and expand The Elements of Style and propel it to bestseller status. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top customer reviews
I'm writing this review for the free Kindle version with tan and dark red cover (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B005IT0V8O/ref=cm_cr_ryp_prd_ttl_sol_0). This Kindle version has clickable linkage, the Table of Contents is simple and well constructed, and the book is loaded with examples, so it's good to have as a reference for those times when one gets stuck on a cumbersome sentence or an overused word or expression, for suggestions on resolving active/passive voice, and so forth. Beyond that, my best advice for anyone who's already well-versed in grammar and composition is this, from the book's Introductory section:
"... once past the essentials, students profit most by individual instructions based on the problems of their own work...".
In other words, don't expect this book to work miracles. It won't write your book, essay or user guide for you. But as my heading says, I do recommend "Elements" as a desk tool for getting past any nagging nuances/bad habits one may have as a writer, or for attacking specific issues as they arise.
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.
Part 1 is essentially a recap of the most commonly abused rules. How to use parentheses, possessive nouns, commas, colons, cases, hyphens, participles, are a few of the addressed topics. Even if you're a decent writer who doesn't misuse a few of these elements, it's still beneficial to know the rules behind their proper usage. Some naturally know where a comma goes in a sentence, but explaining it is another matter.
Part 2 Is about composition. Voice, tense, tone, paragraphs, and connecting ideas are the primary topics here. Additionally, Strunk and White introduce and develop their characteristic minimalism in writing. How can we omit needless words, pare down our paragraphs, and become effective writers by sticking to the main points of argument? They can help.
Part 4 is more about misused phrases and words. There are a bunch of homonyms, idioms, and homophones that give people trouble in writing. Do you know when to use pare or pear, bare or bear, less or fewer? They give you the proper usage and a few tricks to remember their use.
Parts 3 and 5 are concerned with developing an individual style in writing. They use the principles of strong writing to aid the reader in developing a subjective style. This may seem counterintuitive; the rules are objective but the style is subjective. But by learning the essentials of style, you have the ability to contemplate how you would personally expand these principles to achieve your own voice. Would you prefer a terse and staccato style or a whimsical and flowery style?
It really should be handed out to anyone planning on attending university. Too many of today's students are awful writers, and it's simply because they haven't been taught. This can help.