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The Elements of Style: 50th Anniversary Edition Hardcover – Oct 15 2008

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Longman; 1 edition (Oct. 15 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0205632645
  • ISBN-13: 978-0205632640
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.3 x 20.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 299 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (200 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #218,314 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"...a marvellous and timeless little book... Here, succinctly, elegantly and without fuss are the essentials of writing clear, correct English." John Clare, "The Telegraph" --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

You know the authors’ names. You recognize the title. You've probably used this book yourself. And now The Elements of Style—the most widely read and employed English style manual—is available in a specially bound 50th Anniversary Edition that offers the title's vast audience an opportunity to own a more durable and elegantly bound edition of this time-tested classic.

Offering the same content as the Fourth Edition, revised in 1999, the new casebound 50th Anniversary Edition includes a brief overview of the book's illustrious history. Used extensively by individual writers as well as high school and college students of writing, it has conveyed the principles of English style to millions of readers. This new deluxe edition makes the perfect gift for writers of any age and ability level.



Fifty Years of Acclaim for The Elements of Style, by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White


“I first read Elements of Style during the summer before I went off to Exeter, and I still direct my students at Harvard to their definition about the difference between 'that' and 'which.'  It is the Bible for good, clear writing.”

                        -- Henry Louis Gates Jr.


“For writers of all kinds and sizes the world begins and ends with Strunk and White’s Elements of Style. Only something to actually write about trumps the list of what is required to put words together in some kind of coherent way. I treasure its presence in my life and salute its fifty years of glory and accomplishment.”

                        -- Jim Lehrer


The Elements of Style remains an unwavering beacon of light in these grammatically troubled times.  I would be lost without it.”

                        -- Ann Patchett


"To the extent I know how to write clearly at all, I probably taught myself while I was teaching others -- seventh graders, in Flint, Michigan, in 1967.  I taught them with a copy of Strunk & White lying in full view on my desk, sort of in the way the Gideons leave Bibles in cheap hotel rooms, as a way of saying to the hapless inhabitant: ‘In case your reckless ways should strand you here, there's help.’  S&W doesn't really teach you how to write, it just tantalizingly reminds you that there's an orderly way to go about it, that clarity's ever your ideal, but -- really -- it's all going to be up to you."

                        -- Richard Ford



The Elements of Style never seems to go out of date. Its counsel is sound and funny, wise and unpretentious. And while its precepts are a foundation of direct communication, Strunk and White do not insist on a way of writing beyond clear expression. The rest is up to the imagination, the intelligence within.”

                        -- David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker


 “It’s the toughness—the irreverence and implicit laughter—that attracted me to the little book when I was seventeen. I fell in love with Strunk & White’s loathing for cant and bloviation, the ruthless cutting of crap, jargon, and extra words. For me, that skeptical directness included a tacit permission by The Elements of Style to break its rules on occasion: an alloy of generosity in the blade, a grace I still admire and still learn from.”

                        -- Robert Pinsky


“In the quest for clarity, one can have no better guides than Strunk and White. For me, their book has been invaluable and remains essential.”

                        -- Dan Rather


"Eschew surplusage! A perfect book."

                        --Jonathan Lethem


"Not until I started teaching writing and I reread The Elements of Style did I realize that

most everything I would be teaching young writers, and everything I would be learning myself as a writer, was contained between the covers of this slim, elegant, wise little book."

                        -- Julia Alvarez


 “Strunk and White seared their way into my brain long ago, and I benefit from them daily.”

                        -- Stephen J. Dubner, co-author of Freakonomics


“Since high school, I have kept a copy of this book handy. That should be unnecessary. I should, by now, have fully internalized The Elements of Style. But sometimes I get entangled in a paragraph that refuses to be ‘clear, brief, bold.’ I dip back into The Elements of Style and am refreshed.

     After Scott Simon interviewed me on NPR about whether the word ‘e-mail’ needs a hyphen (yes, it does), some listeners, including friends of mine, wondered why I had answered in the affirmative when asked, in passing, ‘Are you a drunken white man?’ Those listeners misheard. ‘Strunk and White man’ was what Scott said.”

                        -- Roy Blount Jr.


“Strunk & White--writing's good-natured law firm--still contains enough sparkling good sense to clean up the whole bloviating blogosphere."

                  -- Thomas Mallon


 “I used Strunk -- that’s what we called it, Strunk -- as a student at Berkeley fifty years ago.  I didn't know that it was new, and that we were the first generation to be educated in The Elements of Style.  I got a firm foundation in the English language, learned to write basically, and could depict the realistic world.  Then I was able to become an impressionist and expressionist.” 

                  -- Maxine Hong Kingston


 “Strunk and White's gigantic little book must be the most readable advice on writing ever written.  Side by side with Roget, Shakespeare, the Bible, and a dictionary, it's an essential for every writer's shelf.”

                        -- X.J. Kennedy


“With what joy I welcome the fiftieth anniversary of The Elements of Style. I am greatly indebted to this book for the invaluable help it has given me all these years.”

                        -- Horton Foote


“Elegant, droll, and perfectly proportioned, and like your favorite aunt, strict but affectionate. And, like your favorite aunt, full of optimism: You can, and will, be a better writer! There has never been a better, briefer, or more loved book about the art and craft of communicating.”

                        -- Susan Orlean


“This book is an essential tool.  It has been of great use to me and is probably responsible for my best writing.  I owe my success to Strunk and White; only the mistakes are mine.”

                        -- Ben Affleck, in O, the Oprah Magazine


“This book is a wonderful example of teaching by example.  Not only does it recommend clear and concise writing, it demonstrates it. Written in the style of a friend offering help, it is a godsend to anyone wanting to put words on paper. Thank you, Messieurs Strunk and White.  And Happy Anniversary, Elements of Style.”

                        -- S.E. Hinton


 “When I began to have ... I wouldn't say arguments but conversations in my mind with Strunk and White about a few of their rules and principles, I knew I was coming into my own. If only they were still here to talk things over! No doubt their side of the exchange would be kindly put, well-informed, and wise. They'd probably help me with my side of it. What more could one want from writers reaching out to help other writers?”

                        -- Barbara Wallraff, language columnist for The Atlantic


 “I don't believe there is a serious writer alive who doesn't have a worn copy of ‘Strunk & White’on his or her bookshelf.”

                        -- Mignon Fogarty, author of Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing  


“This little book has inspired hundreds of thousands of people to write better – partly by precept and partly by example.  It continues to influence more writers than any other.  It’s a force for good in the world.”

                        -- Bryan A. Garner, author of Garner’s Modern American Usage


“I can think of no better guide to good writing, and I always think of this little classic with a warm heart.  More importantly, I revisit its pages often.  It's the one essential book on writing."

                        -- Jay Parini, author of Why Poetry Matters


“Clarity and simplicity have always been the goals, and this book shows the way.  It has always been a lighthouse in the dark and stormy night of student prose, of all of our prose.”

                        -- Ron Carlson


“The only rules you are ever going to get from me are all in Strunk and White.”  

                        --Ursula K. Le Guin, from Steering the Craft


“[The Elements of Style is] a book to which I return from time to time, the way I periodically reread Shakespeare. I always discover something new, settle a question that has been puzzling me, or learn a principle of usage that I have been pretending to know, a pretense that has resulted in inconsistency and in the sort of errors from which I can only pray some saintly copy editor will save me.”

                        -- Francine Prose, from Reading Like A Writer


“…still a little book, small enough and important enough to carry in your pocket, as I carry mine.”

                        -- Charles Osgood


“Almost every writer has a Strunk and White story. One journalism professor spends the first two weeks of school forcing his students to memorize the book. A top editor at a major paper buys copies at yard sales to distribute to her writers and interns. It has even caused love affairs. . . . Could its greatness be any more clear?”

                        -- Jesse Sheidlower, American Editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, on NPR


“If the English language is one of the finest homes ever devised for the human spirit, Elements is the best guided house tour we’ve got.”

                        --David Gelernter, The Wall Street Journal


“…Should be the daily companion of anyone who writes for a living and, for that matter, anyone who writes at all.”

                        --Jonathan Yardley, Greensboro (N.C.) Daily News


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

                        -- Herbert A. Kenny, The Boston Globe


“Buy it, study it, enjoy it.  It’s as timeless as a book can be in our age of volubility.”

                        -- Charles Poore, The New York Times


“White is one of the best stylists and most lucid minds in this country.  What he says and his way of saying it are equally rewarding.”

                        -- Edmund Fuller, The Wall Street Journal

“If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy.”

                        -- Dorothy Parker, Esquire


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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. My favourite example is his strong criticism of how the word ‘hopefully’ is used.
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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 M. D. Cummings on Dec 20 2001
Format: Paperback
Twenty-one years ago, a professor in one of my English Lit. classes brought out a book that was NOT one of those texts that you thought you were going to have to take along into the next life in order to finish it. The book was quite the opposite. It was a small 78 page publication that was no more intimidating than a comic book.
I was a student that needed help in my punctuation, word usage, and style. I hoped, as did all the students, that the day would come when we would be published. The professor said, "If you're ever going to make it in the writing field, this book will be your best guide. Stick to the principles mentioned in its pages and you will achieve your goals. That is, assuming you have any writing ability in you at all."
Currently, I am taking a refresher course through a correspondence school back East. Guess what book is part of their curriculum? You're right, it's The Elements of Style. This time I have given the book a strict credence, and in the next few months I will have my first publishing credit.
I believe, The Elements of Style, is still the best book on correct writing techniques there is on the market. It was so tweny-one years ago and it will be so twenty-one years from now.
M.D. Cummings
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Corey Austin on May 9 2004
Format: Paperback
A pithy little handbook that gives rules and examples to help you avoid the most common mistakes in writing, plus some smart advice on the finer points by a renowned essayist and children's writer. It is by far the single most useful book on writing. But it is not the last word. For those who wish to go further, I recommend these books in addition to Strunk & White: The Prentice Hall Handbook for Writers, for a review of basic grammar and syntax; Style: Ten Lessons in Clarity and Grace, by Joseph M. Williams, for more detailed advice on constructing paragraphs; The Oxford Essential Guide to Writing, by Thomas Kane, for more general advice; and Garner's Modern American Usage, for intelligent, detailed, and up-to-date guidance on diction. All these books belong on the shelf of every serious writer.
(By the way, I agree with the previous reviewer that the third edition is slightly preferable to the current one.)
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