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The Elements of Style

The Elements of Style

Written by William Strunk and E. B. White

Narrated by Frank McCourt


The Elements of Style

Written by William Strunk and E. B. White

Narrated by Frank McCourt

ratings:
4.5/5 (61 ratings)
Length:
4 hours
Released:
Jan 1, 2007
ISBN:
9781428193802
Format:
Audiobook

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Also available as bookBook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook

Description

The Elements of Style has long been a valued and beloved resource for all writers. Hailed for its directness and clever insight, this unorthodox textbook was born from a professor’s love for the written word and perfected years later by one of his students—famed author E.B. White. Ever since its first publication in 1959, writers have turned to this book for its wise and accessible advice.

Released:
Jan 1, 2007
ISBN:
9781428193802
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook

About the author

William Strunk Jr. was an American professor of English at Cornell University and the author of The Elements of Style. After revision and enlargement by his former student E. B. White, it became a highly influential English usage and composition guide during the late twentieth century.  



Reviews

What people think about The Elements of Style

4.5
61 ratings / 51 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (5/5)
    A classic I first read in college -- one that has informed my work ever since. Its embrace of brevity is admirable, and in the age of the Internet, more relevant than ever.
  • (5/5)
    A short, easy-to-read book that anyone who wants to use the written word to communicate with anyone else should take to heart and memorize. It isn't hard and it covers the basics -- where the punctuation goes and why, what are the essential parts of constructing a sentence, how to avoid bloated, nonsensical paragraphs -- it's all there. And it isn't all that long. The whole book has less than 200 pages and a LOT Of white space, so this is no daunting challenge. It can be read in under 2 hours, even if you take notes. It is easy to mark for future reference, too, if you forget something (and no points taken off for checking before using that semicolon).

    I recall during my not-short-enough stint as a professional proofreader that I often wanted to throw copies of this book at the authors and line editors when I found dozens of comma splices, run-on-sentences, verbless sentences, senseless constructions, and repetitive word use (we will just skip the whole "passive verb" thing for now -- I realize that's more of an addiction and requires a 12-step program, sort of like ellipses addiction and apostrophe abuse) in work that was supposed to be heading for the printer. This book can't save you from typos, but it can help you avoid full-out, no-excuse errors.

    Reading this book will not make you a grammar Nazi. It will not make you appear strange to your friends, give you understanding of Ezra Pound, or make your walk into the waves like Virginia Woolf. It will save you some embarrassment and stop people who judge you on your writing (like me) from rolling their eyes at you.
  • (4/5)
    Best book on writing I have read so far! concise and easy to understand...
  • (5/5)
    Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style, is a short, concise guide to effective writing. This short guide covers everything from basic grammatical usage to composition, but it is more than just a guide to good writing. The book is filled with provocative axioms to keep in mind while writing. Because writing is a form of communication, a hallmark of it is to be succinct.There is an overwhelming emphasis in this guide on clear, concise writing. “When a sentence is made stronger, it usually becomes shorter. Thus, brevity is a by-product of vigor.” (p. 19). The best-known writers—Homer, Dante, and Shakespeare are mentioned—grab the reader’s attention by being “specific, definite, and concrete” and use words to create pictures (p. 21) in order to create impactful writing. It is always important to use the active voice in writing and to avoid conditionals such as should, could, and would, in order to prevent a piece of writing from sounding as though it lacks authority. The authors therefore recommend rewriting and revising and to “ruthlessly delete the excesses” (p. 72).Composition is a major element in creating clear, readable writing. To be effective, writing must be organized and follow a specific plan—although that plan may not always follow the order of a writer’s thought process. However, it forces the writer to think; “the act of composition, or creation, disciplines the mind” (p. 70).In the course of their writing, writers end up revealing something about themselves and their identity, and this is what makes good writing stand out. A writer develops their style through practice and patience. EB White suggests that the writer first place themselves in the background, so that a sense of style can be achieved by first having none. “Style is the writer, and therefore what you are, rather than what you know, will at last determine your style” (p. 84).Although the authors are very definite in their opinions, they present them with humor in some places, preventing this book from becoming too pedantic. It is also important to consider that this guide is not the last word in what is “correct” writing or style; “the shape of our language is not rigid” (p. 39) and that “there is no satisfactory explanation of style, no infallible guide to good writing, no assurance that a person who thinks clearly will be able to write clearly, no key that unlocks the door, no inflexible rule by which writers may shape their course” (p. 66). However, The Elements of Style is an invaluable guide that gives a reader advice on how to think about their writing, how to write clear and concise prose, and how to achieve a unique sense of style.
  • (5/5)
    Whenever I write (this line included), I make use of something I read in this book.
  • (4/5)
    Is this a flawed book?Of course. The style of prose it advocates was already out of date when it was published. It presents the taste of its authors' as inviolable laws, leading to painful contortions in the written language of those who try to follow it.As the previous sentence indicates, even in matters of simple punctuation I do not agree with The Elements of Style.And yet much of the advice is still solid. Even if you disagree with Strunk and White, it is better to have consciously rejected a rule than to have never considered the matter. There is also a surprising playfulness with language that appears between dour pronunciations. This side of The Elements of style was unknown to me prior to reading it, seemingly having been missed by both its detractors and fanatics.