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Encyclopedia > The Elements of Style
The Elements of Style, 2000 edition.
The Elements of Style, 2000 edition.

The Elements of Style ("Strunk & White") is an American English writing style guide. It is one of the most influential and best-known prescriptive treatments of English grammar and usage in the United States. It originally detailed eight elementary rules of usage, ten elementary principles of composition, "a few matters of form," and a list of commonly misused words and expressions. Updated editions of the paperback book are often required reading for American high school and college composition classes. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (416x708, 87 KB) Summary Personal copy scanned by Daniel Case 2005-09-14 Licensing This image is of a book cover, and the copyright for it is most likely owned either by the artist who drew the cover or the publisher... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (416x708, 87 KB) Summary Personal copy scanned by Daniel Case 2005-09-14 Licensing This image is of a book cover, and the copyright for it is most likely owned either by the artist who drew the cover or the publisher... For other uses, see American English (disambiguation). ... Write redirects here. ... An Identity Standards Manual page—for the graphic design branch of corporate identity design and branding. ... In linguistics, prescription is the laying down or prescribing of normative rules for the use of a language. ... In printmaking, an edition is a set of prints off one plate, composing a limited run of prints. ... For other uses, see High school (disambiguation). ... College (Latin collegium) is a term most often used today to denote an educational institution. ...

Contents

History

The book was originally written in 1918 and privately published by Cornell University professor William Strunk, Jr., and was first revised with the help of Edward A. Tenny in 1935. In 1957, it came to the attention of E. B. White at The New Yorker. White had studied under Strunk in 1919 but had since forgotten the "little book," a "forty-three-page summation of the case for cleanliness, accuracy, and brevity in the use of English." A few weeks later, White wrote a piece for The New Yorker lauding Professor Strunk and his devotion to "lucid" English prose. The book's author having died in 1946, Macmillan and Company commissioned White to recast a new edition of Elements of Style, published in 1959. In this revision, White independently expanded and modernized the 1918 work, creating the handbook now known to millions of writers and students as, simply, "Strunk and White". White's first edition sold some two million copies, with total sales of three editions (over a span of four decades) surpassing ten million copies. “Publisher” redirects here. ... Cornell redirects here. ... William Strunk Jr. ... Elwyn Brooks White (July 11, 1899, Mount Vernon, New York – October 1, 1985, North Brooklin, Maine) was a leading American essayist, author, humorist, poet and literary stylist. ... For other uses, see New Yorker. ... Year 1946 (MCMXLVI) was a common year starting on Tuesday (link will display full 1946 calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Macmillan is a global publishing firm founded in 1843 by Daniel and Alexander Macmillan, two brothers from the Isle of Arran, Scotland. ...


Strunk's original version concentrates on specific questions of usage, cultivation of what he considered good writing, and avoidance of prolixities. "Make every word tell," he writes. One chapter is the simple admonition: "Omit needless words!" White updated and extended these sections, and prefixed an introductory essay adapted from his New Yorker article. He also added the concluding chapter, An Approach to Style, a broader prescriptive guide to writing in English. White updated two more editions of The Elements of Style in 1972 and 1979, when it grew to 85 pages. By the time the fourth edition of "Strunk and White" appeared in 1999, its second author had died, and the manuscript rights were acquired by Longman, who added a foreword by White's stepson, Roger Angell, an afterword by Charles Osgood, a glossary, and an index. An anonymous editor modified the text of this 1999 edition. Among the noticeable changes was the removal of Strunk's short but spirited defense of "he" for nouns embracing both genders. (See the "they" entry in Chapter IV, and also gender-specific pronouns.) Write redirects here. ... For other uses, see Essay (disambiguation). ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... Longman is a firm of English publishers. ... Roger Angell (born September 19, 1920), is an important figure in the world of American letters, having spent the vast majority of his career as a fiction editor and regular contributor at The New Yorker. ... Charles Osgood For the American psychologist see Charles E. Osgood. ... The gender-specific pronouns of a language distinguish between male and female people (and often of animals as well). ...


The year 2005 saw the release of The Elements of Style Illustrated (ISBN 1-59420-069-6), with design and illustrations by Maira Kalman. The text follows the 1999 edition. Maira Kalman is an American illustrator, author, artist, and designer who authored a series of books about Max Stravinsky, the poet-dog. ...


Overview of contents, 3rd ed.

Fifty-four pointers are presented along with a list of common mistakes concerning individual words: Eleven rules of punctuation and grammar; eleven principles of writing; eleven matters of form; and twenty-one reminders for a better style in Chapter V, which White wrote with no input from William Strunk, who had died previously. The last reminder, "Prefer the standard to the offbeat," reads like a separate essay and contains advice on the proper mindset of a writer, such as trying to please only yourself and aiming for "one moment of felicity," as Robert Louis Stevenson found, so your words would live on.


See also

In linguistics, prescription is the laying down or prescribing of normative rules for the use of a language. ... A Dictionary of Modern English Usage, often referred to simply as Fowlers Modern English Usage, or Fowler, is a style guide to British English usage, authored by Henry W. Fowler. ... Plain Words is a style guide for British English written in 1948 by Sir Ernest Gowers, and expanded and reissued in 1954 as The Complete Plain Words (ISBN 0140511997). ... An Identity Standards Manual page—for the graphic design branch of corporate identity design and branding. ...

Editions in print

  • Hardcover 4th edition, (1999), ISBN 0-205-31342-6
  • Paperback 4th edition, (2000), ISBN 0-205-30902-X
  • The Elements of Style: A Style Guide for Writers by William Strunk, (2005), ISBN 0-97522-980-X
  • The Elements of Style Illustrated by William Strunk Jr., E.B. White and Maira Kalman (Illustrator), (2005), ISBN 1-59420-069-6
  • The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. & How To Speak And Write Correctly by Joseph Devlin, (2006), BN Publishing, ISBN 956-291-263-9

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