Book Review: The Elements of Style, by Strunk, White, and Kalman

As a part of the Quinnipiac social media writing class, we had to purchase and reference The Elements of Style (illustrated) by William Strunk, E. B. White, and Maira Kalman.

Rather than just reference this work, I read it from cover to cover. And it turned out to be an easy read, considerably more comprehensive and better than I had remembered.

Simple Rules

Simple rules emerge in clear and concise prose which never talks down to the reader. It contains all of the rules that so many people should known, and should have learned years ago. Yet these days it seems that so many people just plain don’t know.

Case in point: forming possessives. Therefore, on Page 1 the guide just says, “Form the possessive singular of nouns by adding ‘s.”

That’s it, no more.

It seems a pity to so much as comment on this.

Punctuation

Information about punctuation remains equally succinct. Hence on Page 15, the guide says,

“A colon tells the reader that what follows is closely related to the preceding clause. The colon has more effect than the comma, less power to separate than the semicolon, and more formality than the dash.”

Easy to follow and remember, the above two sentences tell more about colons, semicolons, and dashes than I think I learned in most of my formal education.

Do YOU Know the Elements of Language?

Furthermore, language comes across as something knowable, with rules and formal logic. This is instead of what English can sometimes seem like, e. g. a messy stew of words from all over the world. The work gives the English language structure and predictability. Both of these things make it a lot easier to know the rules.

Rules, of course, can be broken. They were probably made to be broken. But at first you need to know what you’re throwing out. Keep the baby, not the bath water.

Book Review: The Elements of Style, by Strunk, White, and Kalman

The Elements of Style (illustrated)

There is but one thing left to say, and the Elements of Style certainly says it.

Write better.

Review: 5/5 stars.

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