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4.5 out of 5 stars204
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 28 November 2007
"The Elements of Style" was recommended to me by Stephen King in his book "On Writing". I see it as basically filling in the gaps that King left in his book. King's book was more concerned with the practical matters of writing, whereas, TEOS is all about LANGUAGE and how to use it, which King only touched upon.

And this book certainly packs a lot of information and advice, especially given that it is only 85 pages long. It has five chapters. The first chapter is called ELEMENTARY RULES OF USAGE and contains eleven grammatical tips, from the use of commas and semi-colons to structuring of a sentence. The second chapter, ELEMENTARY PRINCIPLES OF COMPOSITION, is more about writing style and ways to keep your writing punchy and fresh. Chapter 3, A FEW MATTERS OF FORM, mostly concerns physical presentation of your work and may be more suitable to formal letter writing that fiction, but may be useful to other forms nonetheless. Chapter 4 is about WORDS AND EXPRESSIONS COMMONLY MISUSED and includes some of my pet hates, including those who turn "I couldn't care less" into "I could care less", thus completely destroying the meaning of the phrase. I also learned a few new things from this section. The fifth chapter is called AN APPROACH TO STYLE and contains 21 general tips, or "reminders", about how to keep your writing consistent and stop it going bad. A lot of my description here sounds very general and vague, and makes most of the sections sound the same, but trust me that it all makes sense and has a point in the book that I just can't quite explain - I need a bigger vocab!

There are one or two minor problems with the book. For example, as Stephen King points out, it says that the most important part of a sentence should always go at the end - but is "With a hammer he killed Frank" really better than "He killed Frank with a hammer"? I don't think so, either. Also, it seems to me that a lot of this advice, particular when it comes to grammar, depends on your own comforts and preferences and those of your editor and/or publisher. That doesn't mean we should pay it no heed, but I do believe that you can quite easily get away with ignoring half of this book's advice and still be a respected, published writer.

But overall, an excellent little book that I think every writer should read, whether they are beginners or highly experienced. The writing style of Strunk himself is straightforward and formal, occasionally venturing into humour and informality, which means that you are likely to learn something by reading it, but unlikely to be bored while doing so.

Highly recommended to writers of all talents.
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83 of 85 people found the following review helpful
on 22 October 2001
First published in the 1930's, this tiny gem is jammed with
timeless writing advice. The Elements of Style shows you how to be
clear, concise and precise, and is itself written in a similar
style. No other book packs as much useful information into such a tiny
space. The authors of 1000 page tomes, such as the Chicago Manual of
Style, would do well to follow Strunk's enduring advice. This should
be mandatory reading for anyone involved in a career in research, editing or
technical authoring.
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93 of 96 people found the following review helpful
HALL OF FAMEon 5 January 2006
I first encountered Strunk and White's 'Elements of Style' when I was an undergraduate, and I have been a fan of this book ever sense. Perhaps it is because of the excellent teamwork that is apparent on the pages between the master of language, William Strunk, and the master of narrative, E.B. White. How can you go wrong learning grammar from the likes of the author of such wonderful tales as Stuart Little?
During my English composition class as an undergraduate, we had to read this book twice, once at the beginning of the term, and again at the end. I have since referred to the pages so often that I am on my fourth or fifth copy, as the binding and pages have worn out from use. Long before books such as 'Woe is I' or 'Eats, Shoots and Leaves', this book, 'The Elements of Style' has held a certain pride of place in being useful, accessible and interesting in its presentation of a traditionally and typically boring subject - grammar and usage.
Among the pieces I re-read on a frequent basis is the list of commonly misused or abused words and phrases. Here is a list of easily corrected mistakes that the typical writer and speaker needs to keep in mind. Also, the suggestions for composition are gentle reminders that creativity and good craftsmanship need not be contradictory.
This is a wonderful gift and wonderful treat for oneself.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
This is the classic book on how to write. If you've already read it, you don't need me to tell you how good it is. If you haven't, then stop reading this review and go get it--either online for free or in an inexpensive paper version. I'll just suggest three books to back it up on your shelf. Strunk and White is the best by far, but these will help you, too.

Kilian Crawford's Writing for the Web provides guidance and examples for successful online writing. Web readers have different expectations and attention spans and it takes different techniques to capture, hold and develop their interest in your message.

Roy Peter Clark's Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer provides strategy advice that ranges from "Nuts and Bolts" like "Begin sentences with subjects and verbs" to "Useful Habits" such as "Turn procrastination into rehearsal."

Mark Kramer and Wendy Call's Telling True Stories: A Nonfiction Writers' Guide contains advice from experienced writers and editors on a range of topics. The short chapter format makes it perfect for opportunistic reading by busy writers.

Who am I to make these recommendations? Some great writer, maybe? Nope. I'm a so-so writer who enjoys it, wants to be better at it, and needs all the help he can get. And I've read each of these books and learned something. My guess is that you will, too.

Feed your shelf and it will be there for you.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 5 November 2010
Many people recommended The Elements of Style, but have I made a mistake buying this publication? This edition is written by William Strunk, Jr only, he wrote the original version 1918. E.B. White updated the book in 1959 and wrote several subsequent editions expanding on the original text. The other clue that this book is not up to date is a statement inside the cover saying - Filiquarian Publishing, LLC is publishing this edition of Elements of Style, due to its public domain status. So is this version a publication of William Strunk's original version? If so, (I kind of feel like I have been duped) I wish I had brought the updated and expanded version. It is probably worth spending the extra money for the 50th Anniversary version because at least you know what you are buying.

I have also noted that reviews for this publication are exactly the same as the Strunk & White 1999 edition, this is deceiving as you perceive them as the same book.

I have given this publication two stars because, despite the above, I have learnt a bit.
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
There are currently 2 different editions of the Elements of Style commonly available on Amazon. One is a poorly formatted copy of the Public Domain version of the work, attributed only to William Strunk jr. The other is the revised edition of the work edited and expanded by E.B. White.

Be careful which version you buy.

I made the mistake of picking up the cheaper version and despite the woeful formatting, it's still an incredibly useful book.
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54 of 56 people found the following review helpful
on 25 March 2006
This handy no nonsense book was recommended to me by Stephen King in his foreword for the book "on writing". I fully agree with him and that no word is wasted and examples are given to amplify the points. Anyone who is interested in improving their prose should get one...and it's easy on the pocket.It should be the first book you buy on style and finding your voice.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 29 March 2011
I had been thinking about buying this book for two months, in the end i bought it so i could stop thinking about it.
I have read a number of books on this subject and did not think i needed another, but I read reviews of this book elsewhere about it being the "Best Book Written on Writing," so i wanted to find out if this was true.
This book covers nothing that the Oxford or Collins guide dont, but what it does do is keeps it simple and to the point. It's written in a style that's simple to understand and hard to forget. A book you will find yourself taking out to look something up, and then find yourself reading the whole thing again.

You will learn something, if you dont; I'll give you your money back!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 17 February 2009
Recommended by a journalist friend, The Elements of Style has proved ideal for this latent grammar nerd. Good if you have to write for your job and care about not reading like an illiterate. Sadly the gaps left by the UK education system may mean that you don't have the technical understanding to take on some of the finer points. Contains some excellent jokes.
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136 of 152 people found the following review helpful
on 16 August 2002
This brief book can teach the inexpert writer much, and even experts will learn a few new things. However, it presents itself, and is often presented by others, as a flawless masterpiece - something it is not.
What jars most is that the book itself is riddled with errors. I'm not nit-picking about pedantic subtleties - there are real, serious mistakes: the authors spell the English place "Bridgwater" as "Bridgewater", for example, and they often omit essential hyphens, thereby missing their meaning.
I was also upset that so many of the before-and-after examples are flawed. Too often, in mending style, nuances are lost; in many cases I could see alternatives that were more correct, brief, elegant and exact.
It would be interesting to see Strunk's original offering, or an earlier edition of White's adaptation: some of the material is pristine and unobjectionable, so maybe successive editings have let the work fall from former greatness. It is hard to tell, now.
If you are buying just one book on English usage, let it be Bill Bryson's "Troublesome Words". If you want to own a legendary work on the subject, buy Fowler. If you already have a dozen such books, by all means get this one too.
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