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The Elements of Style (4th Edition) Hardcover – Aug 24 1999

208 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 105 pages
  • Publisher: Longman; 4 edition (Aug. 24 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0205313426
  • ISBN-13: 978-0205313426
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.2 x 21.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 249 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (208 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #46,265 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

About the Author

William Strunk, Jr. first used his own book, The Elements of Style, in 1919 for his English 8 course at Cornell University. The book was published in 1935 by Oliver Strunk.

E. B. White was a student in Professor Strunk's class at Cornell, and used "the little book" for himself. Commissioned by Macmillan to revise Strunk's book, White edited the 1959 and 1972 editions of The Elements of Style.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Zaid on March 12 2006
Format: Paperback
This is the most precious book I have ever read. I have learned from it in few hours what I could not learn in more than 12 years of schooling. In particular, it is a little book about how everyone must write in English, and I emphasize on the words ‘little’ and ‘must’ for reasons you will know as soon as you start reading the book.
The book contains 11 elementary rules of usage, 11 elementary principles of composition, a few matters of form, and a list of words and expressions commonly misused that establish the, not a, solid ground, of plain English style in brief space. All these rules and principles are given by William Strunk Jr. in the form of sharp commands, who is appropriately strongly self-confident of his approach to English writing style. The book is enriched by the revision of E. B. White and his addition of a chapter on writing. The author strongly argues that the main elements of correct English style are “cleanliness, accuracy, and brevity”, with a very strong emphasis on the latter. Under Strunk’s sixth principle of composition, Omit Needless Words, he writes:
"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 his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that every word tell."
I liked Strunk’s audaciousness and self-confidence of presenting his view on the topic. He also has a very nice sense of humour, which he had probably never intended.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Danny Iny on June 12 2006
Format: Paperback
Roughly 80 years ago, William Strunk wrote a small textbook for students in his English Composition class. He wrote it with the intention of creation a short and accessible reference for his students, one of whom - E. B. White, author of the children's classic "Charlotte's Web" - would revise it almost thirty years later for publication to the general college market.

Since its inception, "The Elements of Style" has been the definitive text on clear written communication. It contains explicit guidelines that can easily be followed by anyone, and lays down the law in the form of 22 Elementary Rules of Usage and Elementary Principles of Composition (my favorite of which, "Omit needless words," I couldn't resist quoting in my own book).

Perhaps most importantly, from the perspective of the aspiring writer (who generally has neither an abundance of time nor money), the book is short (can be leisurely read in a couple of hours) and inexpensive (affordable for even the starving student).

This book is highly, highly recommended for anyone who considers taking pen to paper.

Danny Iny

Author of "Ordinary Miracles - Harness the power of writing and get your point across!" (ISBN 1-4116-7252-6)
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on Sept. 4 2003
Format: Paperback
The second edition of this classic work improved on the first edition, and the third was the best of all. It was perfection. The fourth, posthumous edition slips a little bit. It's still better than any other style guide, but a hint of Political Correctness has crept into some of its advice and examples. Why did the publishers feel the need to tinker with perfection? If you already have the third edition, don't bother getting the new one. If you don't have any copies of this great book, check the used bookstores for the previous edition.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Material Girl in a Fantasy World on Dec 17 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I love this book because it talks about the elements of style of good, old-fashioned English. In the past, I've been disappointed by reading some books which appear to promote slangy styles in the name of current usage and wanting to 'fit-in'. Thankfully, this book sticks to the proper rules, many of which we learnt in school and thereafter quickly forgot while communicating with the mostly grammar-hating crowd on the net.

I must admit I was dismayed when I first held this book - it appeared much too slim to contain anything substantial; while quickly scanning through it, it also appeared to be too basic. But when I actually started reading it, I realized that the author has managed to pack quite a lot of information in this slim volume (it also makes it easy to carry in your bag while commuting, especially for those who use public transit).

The information is presented in concise, no-nonsense style, unlike many chatty-sounding books where the information is buried in a volume of unnecessary talk. If you're the kind that prefers the latter, then this book is not for you.

I gave this book 4 stars instead of 5 only because the format looks too textbooky. While this works for me, I do know several people who need a more enterprising and colorful presentation. This minor detail, however, must be overlooked considering the fact that it was originally published in 1920, when the style of presentation was different from what it is now.

All in all, it's a great book, but if you're looking for a frivolous read, this is not it.
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