The Elements of Style – Strunk and White

the elements of style strunk and white

The Elements of Style is THE definitive guide to English writing.

It was originally published in 1918 by William Strunk, professor of English at Cornell University.  After revision and enlargement by his former student E. B. White, it became a highly influential guide to English usage during the late 20th century, commonly called Strunk & White.

Make every word tell.

The small but powerful book includes simple rules of usage, principles of composition, and commonly misused expressions and spelling.

The Approach to Style section is superb. Sometimes sharp, sometimes humorous – anyone interested in writing should really own a copy.

I have an illustrated copy of The Elements of Style which I love. The illustrations by Maira Kalman really brighten up a classic reference book.

“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.”


Every English language writer knows The Elements of Style. The book’s mantra, make every word tell, is still on point. This much-loved classic, now in its fourth edition, will forever be the go-to guide when in need of a hint to make a turn of phrase clearer or a reminder on how to enliven prose with the active voice. The only style manual to ever appear on bestseller lists has explained to millions of readers the basic principles of plain English.

READ NOW: The Elements of Style Illustrated

READ MORE: My 2019 reading list

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