July 10, 2013

The Elements of Style

§ english     # book English

“No book in shorter space, with fewer words, will help any writer more than this persistent little volume.” — The Boston Globe

A friend recommended a book to read, “The Elements of Style” by W. Strunk. It resonated with me strongly, here are a couple of quotes:

Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all sentences short, or avoid all detail and treat subjects only in outline, but that every word tell.

  • “Do not join independent clauses with a comma.” (Rule 5.)
  • “Do not break sentences in two.” (Rule 6.) “Use the active voice.” (Rule 14.)
  • “Use definite, specific, concrete language.” (Rule 16.) “Omit needless words.”
  • (Rule 17.) “Avoid a succession of loose sentences.” (Rule 18.)

The book advocates and illustrates how to write forcibly, clearly, and succinctly; something I value and aspire to incredibly in all sorts of communication, but also in thinking. The book’s volume, 85 smaller-than-A5 pages, reinforces the message and makes it an ideal manual to keep at hand.

Link to the on-line version of the book: http://www.keck.ucsf.edu/~craig/The_Elements_of_Style.html

There is a whole Wikipedia article about it with some background history bits:

— `If you knew Time as well as I do,' said the Hatter, `you wouldn't talk about wasting IT. It's HIM.'
$ Last updated: Feb 7, 2021 at 13:38 (EET) $