The Library

The Elements of Style {Free eBook}

The Elements of Style {Free eBook}It has been around since 1918, and still finds its way into homeschool catalogs and is frequently recommended as a definitive grammar guide.

The Elements of Style by William Strunk covers usage, composition, spelling and commonly misused words.  But perhaps it is the manner in which in covers these matters that has kept it in the public eye.

For example:

Interesting. Avoid this word as a perfunctory means of introduction. Instead of announcing that what you are about to tell is interesting, make it so.

An interesting story is told of (Tell the story without preamble.)
In connection with the anticipated visit of Mr. B. to America, it is interesting to recall that he Mr. B., who it is expected will soon visit America

This light touch makes The Elements of Style an “interesting” read on its own, but useful in its simplicity.

This book aims to give in brief space the principal requirements of plain English style. It aims to lighten the task of instructor and student by concentrating attention … on a few essentials, the rules of usage and principles of composition most commonly violated. In accordance with this plan it lays down three rules for the use of the comma, instead of a score or more, and one for the use of the semicolon, in the belief that these four rules provide for all the internal punctuation that is required by nineteen sentences out of twenty.

The Elements of Style is in the public domain.  However, please be aware that the online version differs significantly from the print version now in its fourth edition with introduction by E.B. White.  The examples have been expanded and updated, the elements themselves have been increased in number, a section has been added on “An Approach to Style,” and the exercises deleted.

Still, students can continue to profit by reading and re-reading this little gem that has stood the test of time.

Free eBook:

Our children have profited by spending one of their upper level years outlining The Elements of Style and developing their own Elements of Style notebook.  This not only keeps these valuable English language tidbits fresh in their minds; they also benefit from the exercise of outlining.