Book Review: Elements of Style by Strunk & White

Book Review: Elements of Style by Strunk & White

The Book In 3 Sentences

There are no specific steps or recipes for writing however, a writer should learn certain elements of style in order to best express themselves. These elements include clarity, conciseness, coherence, unity, correctness (grammar), precision (word choice), and taste (style). The elements of style are not all the same. Some are inflexible rules, while others may be broken at a writer’s discretion.

My 411

An information packed book filled with suggestion, opinions and pertinent examples, Elements of Style has proven to be a classic for any inspiring writer who wants to become better. No wonder Time magazine, for example, named it as one of the 100 most influential non-fiction books written in English since 1923.

This book is filled with rules, examples of the usage of the rules by providing negative and positive usages and conditions when certain phrases are applicable. For example, Chapter 3 alphabetically enumerates common mistakes and states the appropriate corrections.

There were definitely times some of the grammatical lessons went over my head and other parts I had to skim through but I am still glad I read this book as I want to become a better writer.


Tips for Strong Writing

  • Use the active voice where possible
  • Write statements in the positive form
  • Avoid modals of uncertainty
  • Avoid overstating your argument
  • Place the key point at the end

Tips for clear writing

  • Create an outline and stick to it
  • Use the paragraph as the basic unit of composition
  • Use transitions to connect different parts of the text
  • The order of the text should reflect the order of the actions
  • Keep related words together and unrelated words apart
  • Split long sentences
  • Use definite language
  • In dialogue, ensure that the reader knows who is speaking
  • Maintain consistency in verb tenses
  • Convey connected ideas using a similar form

Tips for concise writing

  • Omit unnecessary text
  • Avoid repetition
  • Avoid the use of qualifiers
  • Use the active voice and positive form
  • Revise and rewrite
  • Conciseness must not come at the cost of clarity

Tips for good form

  • Use consistent and conventional spelling
  • Be cautious in the use of idioms and slang
  • Use figures of speech sparingly
  • Avoid “fancy” vocabulary
  • Avoid using foreign-language terms
  • Be sparing in your use of adverbs
  • Avoid repeating the same sentence structure