Strunk and White's Elements of Style, the Best Writer's Guide
Without style, they’re just words strung together
Lie or lay? Farther or further? Which or that? Affect or effect? Did I use the word correctly? A quick thumb through Strunk and White, and I'm back on track.
Of all the reference books on my shelf, Strunk and White's little book of style is by far the most dogeared and the most helpful. If I had to choose only two reference books to guide me through the twisted, often tortured world of words, or should I say my war with words, the first would be my big, five-pound, unabridged dictionary. The second, and last, (Only two remember?), would be this tiny, pencil-thin tome, frequently referred to by many writers simply as "Strunk and White."
Strunk and White Rule #17: Omit needless words!
Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences.
Tiny book, big on content
Given its diminutive proportions, the book answers an astonishing number of questions about punctuation, grammar and style. Just reading the table of contents is a writing lesson in itself. In fact, you could print it out and tape it to your computer as a handy reference guide.
Take a few of the titles in Section 5, "An Approach to Style," all of which I quote verbatim.
- Place yourself in the background
- Write in a way that comes naturally
- Work from a suitable design
- Write with nouns and verbs
- Revise and rewrite
- Do not overwrite
- Do not overstate
All common sense, right? Yet it is so easy to forget these simple rules when we are writing.
Not only will you find the answers to everyday usage and style questions such as those above, but the authors give excellent advice for writing clearly and engagingly--and they follow their own advice so well that the book is fun to read. Or maybe I’m just that geeky.
Especially if you like to edit your work before hitting that submit button
What is your favorite writer's guide or style manual?
© 2013 Kathryn Grace