Strunk and White's Elements of Style, best writer's guide
The single most important writing guide I own
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 most helpful. If I had to choose only two, one would be my unabridged dictionary; the other would be this little tome, frequently referred to by many writers simply as "Strunk and White."
Tiny book, big on content
Given the near pencil-thin size of this book, it's amazing the number of questions it answers 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. At least, it is a fun read for geeky writerly types like me. (Blush)
Especially if you like to edit your work before hitting that submit button
If you've ever thought you would like a little help with your writing, click on the orange button above and take a look at this book. Just about every writer and author I've ever met had a copy on their desk.
What is your favorite writer's guide or style manual?
Omit Needless words!
Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences.
Strunk and White, Rule # 17