The Elements of Style – Author Resources

There are so many author resources out there that it is sometimes hard to know where to start. In this Author Resources series, I help you out, by recommending some of my favorite books for (aspiring) writers. In this installment, I present to you: “The Elements of Style” by William Strunk.

Reasons to read The elements of Style

The Elements of Style recommendation on Passionate Writer Coaching

The Elements of Style is a long-time classic. If you grew up in the US, you might even have encountered it in one of your language classes, in in an edition just by William Strunk, or the product of his collaboration with E.B. White. The book was first published in 1918 in various updated editions. And in 2011 Time named it as one of the 100 best and most influential books written in English since 1923. So I figured I certainly needed to dedicate a post to it in this Author resources blog series. 

1. You can finally prove you’ve been right all along in correcting your friends’ misuses of words and phrases

Yes, I’m talking to you. If you read this post, I just know that you have that one friend who always says “as to whether”, and you want to finally rid them of that particular quirk. Well, this book will help. It contains a list of commonly misused words and phrases. I found a few in there that were extremely useful (and that I was unaware of). But it will certainly help you cure your annoying friend. 

2. It’s thin

My hardback copy of The Elements of Style is a modest 81 pages. Now, usually I’m of the opinion that longer is better. However, this book is different. Whereas most books in this Author Resources series you can curl up with and enjoy, that’s not what this book is for. This book helps remind you of the main rules in the English language (because you need to know the rules before you can break them). And as Strunk prioritizes the values of simplicity and brevity (in sentences and paragraphs), this book is both: simple and brief.

3. It allows you to quickly check the rules of punctuation

Yes, I know, it’s not glamorous. But punctuation can make or break a sentence. Strunk says: there’s a lot of ways to use the comma. But for 90% of the sentences, three rules for uses of the comma and one rule for the use of the semicolon will be enough. So if you ever encounter a sentence when writing or editing, and you’re wondering what punctuation to use: just open your Elements of Style and check! 

This is not a book that you will read cover to cover. But if you do have it on your shelf, it will prove to be an invaluable reference work that you’ll check again and again. 

So what's next?

If you have thoughts to share about this book or blogpost, I would love to hear from you! You can use the comment section below or find me on social media. 

If you are a (nonfiction) writer and want me to help you work on your text, you can go to my editing or coaching pages to find out how I can help you. Or you can simply schedule your first free video meeting to discuss your project with me directly

And if you’re looking for more author resources, just check out all posts in this category, or visit one of my three latest author resources posts by clicking on the links below.