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The Elephants of Style : A Trunkload of Tips on the Big Issues and Gray Areas of Contemporary American English Paperback – March 12, 2004
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"What Walsh calls his 'curmudgeon's stylebook' contains such useful items as differentiating names of peoples ...His 'gray areas' are stimulating." -- William Safire, On Language, New York Times Magazine
From the Back Cover
A thorough, and thoroughly entertaining, guide to writing like the pros
What do writers and editors mean when they talk about style? Sometimes they mean formatting for consistency and clarity. (Is it Texas or Tex. or TX? One space or two after a period?) Sometimes they mean correctness in spelling, grammar, word usage and punctuation. (A historic or an historic? The data is or the data are?) And sometimes they mean style as in stylishness. (Bright and breezy or just-the-facts-ma'am? Is that cute little idea fresh and original or tired and silly?) Inside, you'll find answers that will add polish and sparkle to your writing.
In the word-nerd classic Lapsing Into a Comma, Bill Walsh of the Washington Post entertained, educated and enlightened writers, editors, students and language lovers with commonsense guidelines and opinionated commentary on American English in the computer age. In The Elephants of Style he takes a step back and presents an in-depth look at the basics, including spelling, capitalization, abbreviations, subject-verb agreement, plurals and possessives.
With sometimes acerbic wit, the author also addresses:
- The lies your English teacher told you.
- Balancing the traditional ("Once wrong, always wrong") with the progressive ("Everybody does it") as language continues to evolve.
- How and why major publications differ in their handling of basic spelling, capitalization and punctuation issues.
- How empathy between writers and editors can make writing better.
The Elephants of Style includes a continuation of The Curmudgeon's Stylebook, Walsh's A-to-Z glossary of style matters big and small, guaranteed to address questions that no other usage manuals cover. Is Starbucks a coffee shop? Is it porn or porno?
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Top customer reviews
The advice in this book is outstanding for news reporting but cannot be used for preparing an article for publication in a scientific journal because, at least for this one reason, of the advice on acceptable usages of "data" as a singular noun (it's not. No exceptions) and I didn't notice any advice to string together a convoluted maximum entanglement of words in a rambling sentence of forbidding length for the purpose of saving space.
The author includes some pertinent differences in usages described other newspapers' style guides so that the reader can judge what's best for his or her intended forum.