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The Elements of Style


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Table of Contents

  • 1.Form the Possessive Singular of Nouns by Adding 's.
  • 2.In a Series of Three or More Terms with a Single Conjunction, Use a Comma after Each Term except the Last.
  • 3.Enclose Parenthetic Expressions between Commas.
  • 4.Place a Comma before a Conjunction Introducing an Independent Clause.
  • 5.Do Not Join Independent Clauses with a Comma.
  • 6.Do Not Break Sentences in Two.
  • 7.Use a Colon after an Independent Clause to Introduce a List of Particulars, an Appositive, an Amplification, or an Illustrative Question.
  • 8.Use a Dash to Set Off an Abrupt Break or Interruption and to Announce a Long Appositive or Summary.
  • 9.The Number of the Subject Determines the Number of the Verb.
  • 10.Use the Proper Case of Pronoun.
  • 11.A Participial Phrase at the Beginning of the Sentence Must Refer to the Grammatical Subject.
  • 12.Choose a Suitable Sesign and Hold to It.
  • 13.Make the Paragraph the unit of Composition.
  • 14.Use the Active Voice.
  • 15.Put Statements in Positive Form.
  • 16.Use Definite, Specific, Concrete Language.
  • 17.Omit Needless Words.
  • 18.Avoid a Succession of Loose Sentences.
  • 19.Express Coordinate Ideas in Similar Form.
  • 20.Keep Related Words Together.
  • 21.In Summaries, Keep to One Tense.
  • 22.Place the Emphatic Words of a Sentence at the End.
  • 1.Place Yourself in the Background.
  • 2.Write in a Way That Comes Naturally.
  • 3.Work From a Suitable Style.
  • 4.Write with Nouns and Verbs.
  • 5.Revise and Rewrite.
  • 6.Do Not Overwrite.
  • 7.Do Not Overstate.
  • 8.Avoid the Use of Qualifiers.
  • 9.Do Not Affect a Breezy Manner.
  • 10.Use Orthodox Spelling.
  • 11.Do Not Explain Too Much.
  • 12.Do Not Construct Awkward Adverbs.
  • 13.Make Sure the Reader Knows Who is Speaking.
  • 14.Avoid Fancy Words.
  • 15.Do Not Use Dialect Unless Your Ear Is Good.
  • 16.Be Clear.
  • 17.Do Not Inject Opinion.
  • 18.Use Figures of Speech Sparingly.
  • 19.Do Not Take Shortcuts at the Cost of Clarity.
  • 20.Avoid Foreign Languages.
  • 21.Prefer the Standard to the Offbeat.
  • Afterword.
  • Glossary.

Promotional Information

You know the authors' names. You recognize the title. You've probably used this book yourself. This is The Elements of Style, the classic style manual, now in a fourth edition. The revisions to the new edition are purposely kept minimal in order to retain the book's unique tone, wit, and charm. A new Glossary of the grammatical terms used in the book provides a convenient reference for readers. The discussion of pronoun use is revised to reflect the contemporary concern with sexist language. In addition, there are numerous slight revisions in the book itself which implement this advice. A new Foreword by Roger Angell reminds readers that the advice of Strunk & White is as valuable today as when it was first offered.This book has conveyed the principles of English style to millions of readers. Use the fourth edition of "the little book" to make a big impact with writing.

About the Author

William Strunk, Jr. first used his own book, The Elements of Style, in 1919 for his English 8 course at Cornell University. The book was published in 1935 by Oliver Strunk.

E. B. White was a student in Professor Strunk's class at Cornell, and used "the little book" for himself. Commissioned by Macmillan to revise Strunk's book, White edited the 1959 and 1972 editions of The Elements of Style.


Anyone who writes and edits for a living (including librarians, naturally) is no stranger to William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White's classic writing manual, The Elements of Style. This "little book" barely makes the 100-page mark (even with a glossary and an index in the back), but it has influenced generations of writers since it was first released in 1959. The Elements of Style owes its status as much to the authors' sound advice as to the amusing anecdotes throughout. To commemorate its 50th anniversary this spring, Pearson is releasing a black leather-bound, gold-embossed reprint of the fourth edition from 2000 (pictured), which includes a new publisher's note outlining the book's history, along with quotes from celebrities like Dorothy Parker, Dan Rather, and Ben Affleck. An event to celebrate the occasion will be held on April 16th in New York City with a panel of writers and journalists. Cornell University's Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections (keepers of the papers of E.B. White) will host an exhibit in the Olin Library to coincide with the anniversary. The best-selling book about writing ever published (ten million copies and counting), The Elements of Style, in the now 30-year-old words of E.B. White, still stands "erect, resolute and assured," ready to conquer a new generation of writers synonymous with blogging, texting, facebooking, twittering, and other forms of how-fast-can-you-reach-me communication. And while we appreciate the opportunities those new forms of expression have afforded us, we can all benefit from not dressing up words by adding -ly "as though putting a hot on a horse"; overusing qualifiers like rather, very, and pretty that are like "leeches that infest the pond of prose, sucking the blood of words"; and writing nite for night or pleez for please in daily emails, unless we "plan to introduce a complete system of simplified spelling and are prepared to take the consequences." Libraries of all backgrounds owe it to every aspiring writer out there to invest in this sturdy new edition.-Mirela Roncevic, Reference Editor, LJ Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

"...a marvellous and timeless little book... Here, succinctly, elegantly and without fuss are the essentials of writing clear, correct English."

John Clare, The Telegraph

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