The Elements of Style Info

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Reviews for The Elements of Style:


September 12, 2016

I've read two different editions of this book - I borrowed the 6th? 7th? edition (the one with the blue cover that is expanded) and I own the 3rd edition (which is not expanded). Let me tell you, this slim book packs a powerful punch. I've always struggled with being concise in my writing, and this book is THE book to help you maximize your writing. It should be required in high schools everywhere.

Back when I worked for a newspaper, one of my editors was trying to get a review of mine on a particular page, which meant he needed to edit a little bit out ... he came back and told me - I couldn't edit your review. Every word was essential. - YES. Thank you, Strunk & White.

October 9, 2017

Bad version
Don't buy this kindle version, it's full of formatting errors. A shame to see a grammar book trashed like this. I had to ask for a refund. Look somewhere else.

December 31, 2016

The only writing book my son ever needed
Nearly one hundred years old, this book was originally written by William Strunk, who was E.B White's former professor. E. B. White later wrote the last part of this mini-manual. As you may recall, White was the author of the classic, Stuart Little. To study this book is to learn from the masters. When I was homeschooling my oldest son during his early high school years, this was the only writing book that we used. The only other instruction I gave him was to correct the mistakes on the novels he was writing at the time. When it was time for him to take the SAT test, he received the highest possible score on the writing section, and he hadn't even completed the essay because he ran out of time. If a parent or teacher is knowledgeable enough about writing, this is really the only writing book a student will ever need. Whenever anyone asks me for a recommendation for a writing book, this is the one to which I refer them.

July 9, 2017

One of the Best Books on English Composition
First published in 1920, this definitive text on English grammar and composition answers most style questions in approximately 100 pages. There have been countless other efforts since this one, often with hundreds more pages, but none do it better. It answers the basic questions any writer occasionally encounters-comma usage, clauses, paragraphs and construction. Despite the fact it's been nearly 100 years since this book was written, it's never been rendered obsolete. It doesn't matter if your field is business or creative writing, the rules of structure still apply. The English language is imprecise and difficult to master but without understanding the elements of it then properly constructing anything from an email to a thesis or novel will not occur. In these days of emojis and alphabetical shortcuts, we are losing the battle of writing proper sentences but this book, if studied, will remind us of how important the written word is and how to make it understandable. A must read for anyone interested in writing well.

May 18, 2017

A Good Desk Reference if/when it might be needed...
If you paid attention in (and remember) high school English composition, don't pay more than a buck for this. But I should qualify that I'm a senior citizen with two bright kids who went through school in the late 1980s, and (I dare say) they weren't taught nearly as well as I was back in the '60s and early '70s. So take this review with a grain of salt.

I'm writing this review for the free Kindle version with tan and dark red cover ( This Kindle version has clickable linkage, the Table of Contents is simple and well constructed, and the book is loaded with examples, so it's good to have as a reference for those times when one gets stuck on a cumbersome sentence or an overused word or expression, for suggestions on resolving active/passive voice, and so forth. Beyond that, my best advice for anyone who's already well-versed in grammar and composition is this, from the book's Introductory section:

"... once past the essentials, students profit most by individual instructions based on the problems of their own work...".

In other words, don't expect this book to work miracles. It won't write your book, essay or user guide for you. But as my heading says, I do recommend "Elements" as a desk tool for getting past any nagging nuances/bad habits one may have as a writer, or for attacking specific issues as they arise.

September 11, 2012

Strunk & White's 50th Anniversary Edition: It's the real thing...
I received The Elements of Style: 50th Anniversary Edition from a very close friend a few years back, and she was someone who understood my love for this book that goes back to my college days in the 1970s. Someone once asked me how I was able to hold a 3.9 average in college back in the post-Vietnam era when as a veteran I was in school and working full time. My answer then is as it is now: "Strunk and White."

But if my friend reads this, I hope that she will accept my apology that I rarely open the cover of this book, yet it's one of my most treasured. It's the accepted 4th edition, and now a collectable in this hardbound version. These days I use a well worn paperback edition, The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition, which is still accessed at least a few times a week. I just heep this one on a special bookshelf with my most treasured books, and still glance at it when using the paperback.

There are plenty of reviews, both pro and con, posted here on both of the above editions, and I am not as erudite as some of the other reviewers, nor am I an authority. As far as these editions go, Time Magazine listed Strunk & White's 'The Elements of Style' as "one of the 100 best and most influential books written in English since 1923" in their August 30, 2011 issue. But my concern is that there are many editions of "The Elements of Style" listed here on Amazon, both in paper and Kindle editions, yet few of them are what the reader may assume are the real ones.

For example, this THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE - The Original Edition (Annotated) may not be the edition that you're looking for. It's one of a number of versions of the original title "The Elements of Style" written by Cornell University English professor William Strunk, Jr., who wrote it 1918. But this is not the version that is also known as "Strunk & White." The product description is incorrect.

There are other Kindle reissues of the 1918 edition, most notably THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE (UPDATED 2011 EDITION) The All-Time Bestselling Book on Writing English Newly Edited (Special 2011 Edition) The Elements of Style OVER 10 MILLION COPIES SOLD! [Revised], which notes that it is newly revised and edited by Chris Hong, who is listed in the electronic flyleaf as a former editor at Harvard University, and bears a © 2011 The Elements of Style Press notation. This particular edition does have a slightly better layout on the Kindle, and the table of contents is well hyperlinked, but no mention is made of original author William Strunk, Jr., except for his name on the flyleaf.

Among the other Kindle editions are The Elements of Style (Original Edition), with the quill on it's cover is basic, and it costs under a dollar. But if you're going for basic, the The Elements of Style edition with its generic cover is a no-cost freebie. And there are other Kindle editions if you search.

The problem with these 1918 editions is that the writing style is dated. Original author Strunk had died in 1946, and in 1959, the publishers commissioned writer and author E. B. White, well known for his Charlotte's Web, that classic for children, to revise the 41-year-old text. This was was fitting as Strunk had been one of White's professors at Cornell. White's rework of the book was extremely well received, and further editions of the work followed in 1972, 1979, and 1999. White's expansion and modernization of Strunk's original became informally known as Strunk & White. As to whether it's considered a valid part of a writer's bookshelf, more than ten million copies of the three editions of Strunk & White have been sold.

The history of this writing manual can be found in Mark Garvey's Stylized: A Slightly Obsessive History of Strunk & White's The Elements of Style, which was published in 2009, an excellent book in its own right.

So if you're looking for the real Strunk & White, The Elements of Style (4th Edition), by William Strunk, Jr. and E. B. White, is one you want, and it's only available in paper editions, except for the rare The Elements of Style: 50th Anniversary Edition, which is now a collectable. Otherwise, you may enjoy one of the Kindle editions listed here, but think of them more as an interesting background than as contemporary writing style references.


January 7, 2019

Do Not Buy! Horrible Quality Editing
I purchased the paperback version of this book, which matched the description in some of the reviews below, but does not look like the pictures posted before. Someone appears to have just copied and pasted this from somewhere with no effort whatsoever put into editing or proof reading it. Given that this is a book about the correct use of punctuation and grammar, it becomes distracting at best and impossible at worst to understand the meaning of the authors when there are underscores, equal signs, and other odd formatting symbols added to the text. I regret purchasing this book, and I recommended against purchasing this version.

May 27, 2017

Hello, Kindle version!
I am sixty-six years old. It seems as though I have always had a version of this book on my desk at work, and in various bookshelves in my home. I recently threw out my office version because it was simply falling apart. (And, frankly, I had not had to refer to it in a few years.)

Today, I am working on a fairly complex document with another lawyer in the office. She's editing my work and I am editing hers. She made a "correction" to which E.B. White would surely have objected. I had no Elements of Style here at my office to prove this to her.

Hello, Kindle version! Thank goodness for it! (I'm now ordering another paperback copy for my office too.)

July 19, 2016

This book should come with a trigger warning
When I saw "The Elements of Style" pop up in my feed of items awaiting review, I thought the tiny gnomes ferrying data back and forth inside Amazon's massive underground lair must have made a terrible mistake—or were playing a cruel joke on me.

Then I remembered that Amazon had been giving away Kindle editions for free one day, and I had snagged one in a fit of academic hipster irony. It appears that impulsiveness has come back to haunt me.

You see, it took a graduate program in linguistics to cure me of the snake oil nonsense that Strunk, White, and their ilk peddled. "Rules" of vocabulary and usage fabricated from whole cloth, syntactic constructs enforced because they sound vaguely Latin (fun fact: English isn't a Romance language)—it's all great when you want to look like the most pretentious person at a party, but it's not how language works. I'd give examples, but I've already spent too long here; go look up a book by Steven Pinker or read a few posts on the Language Log.

I'm giving it two stars instead of one due to a frankly shocking level of equanimity (given the circumstances). Surely there is advice within its cursed pages that has genuinely helped at least one person write better. The cost, though, measured in misguided English teachers, ill-advised Internet grammar police, and fractured friendships, has surely been too great.

You have been warned.

July 6, 2016

It has some great bits on sentence logic
It has some great bits on sentence logic, but for the most part it's fussy, outdated, obsessively close-minded or all of it at the same time.

July 7, 2019

This book is NOT what you think it is!
Purchase this book only if you are interested in the history of how the book evolved. This book is the ORIGINAL book written in 1918, before the author's revisions and reprinting and before E.B. White's revised additions. I recommend the latest edition only!

September 5, 2019

I have become a returned convert
I love the elements of style. There are several versions. I started with a book about the elements of style and how it came about. Now I have three different versions of the elements to include a copy of the original. It is relevant, easy to use, and has re-improved my writing which had gotten lazy over the years. It is also helping me to leave behind work- place lingo and shortcuts and return to proper grammar. If you want to improve your writing and alter your writing style this guide is the one to have.

May 13, 2019

Not a half bad guide
In the whole, this guide could be rather handy. It presents information straight forward and direct, as it wants the reader to do, and has some practical guidelines to follow. However, there is a line that throws the entire thing into question, when it states in a note about spelling that a word is only spelled correctly if everyone agrees it does.

These rules follow the same guidelines. Simple, direct sentences are only right these days because enough people agree upon it. When the style changes, so will the usefulness of this book.

Just a thought

May 20, 2019

Recommend for federal employees!
I appreciated this reading experience. As a whistleblower attorney, author and CEO of a national office that confronts workplace bullying, I always appreciate any credible efforts to help people communicate better. Hopefully, potential conflict can be avoided as people enhance their communication skills.

In my own book, I observe how atrocious I found a lot of the writing I reviewed as the Program Manager for the Anti-Harassment Unit within a federal agency. Many employees within the government could really benefit from this work!

March 25, 2019

Would have given 0 stars for formatting if possible
The formatting is messed up. You lose a lot of the information this way.

September 4, 2018

Hard to read and to get to the point
After having read, enjoyed and learned from
Word Power Made Easy,
Elements of Style was a major disappointment.

August 7, 2018

Not the original version. We received a junk version.
This is not the original version. We received a cheap printing that is hard to follow. The cover has a strange waxy feel to it that is horrible to the touch. Why did you send us such a crappy version of this book? The writers would be appalled.

January 16, 2018

Got this by recommendation.
Got this by recommendation. Thought it would help with my writing but the information is dated and incorrect by modern standards

December 21, 2017

thought I paid for this...19-DAYS AGO...just saw "ORDER WAS CANCELLED" due to "Non-Payment...from AVAILABLE "Rewards Points"

"Sellers-&-Buyers" both loose when AMAZON FAILS TO ALERT-CUSTOMERS when our "Reward Points" are REJECTED for PAYMENT. We-Buyers "Think" our order is being processed for delivery, BUT IT'S NOT...(even when we have a "Back-Up Cr/Db Card Activated")

November 15, 2017

One Star
This book taught me nothing about how to dress my self appropriately

October 17, 2017

Bad Formatting
Extremely bad formatting. Unpleasant and often unreadable.

May 3, 2018

Not What I Expected
This book turned out to be a very old book with style guidelines that are no longer used. I had anticipated something current. This is useless unless someone wants to the history of usage in our language. I feel like someone was clearing out old books and recommended this to get people like me to buy it!

April 5, 2018

Two Stars
Very dry and old school.

October 23, 2017

Two Stars
keep getting new cover an new intro same book

October 17, 2017

An important read
A classic and a useful read for anyone wanting to improve his writing. One big problem: the formatting for this e-book version is awful.

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