The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition

Author: 俊雄·高野
All Reddit 98
This Month Reddit 3


by jkingsbery   2020-11-05
The large tech company I work for puts a lot of emphasis on writing. Here are a few suggestions:

1. If you want people to read what you wrote and give you feedback, conciseness is important. We have a general rule of thumb that it takes people 30 minutes to read 4-6 pages of terse material, and it takes roughly an hour to then discuss it. As a result, pretty much all our docs are 6 pages (in the main body; appendixes might be added but are written in a way so that the doc stands on its own without them).

2. For many forms of (non-fiction) communication, the inverted pyramid is a helpful way to structure your thoughts. People are most likely to read the beginning of something, When we read the whole thing, we're more likely to pay more attention to the beginning. It's important then to get the most important information in the beginning, with supporting details as you go.

3. Know the audience, and focus on why the audience should care. If it's not clear why the audience would care, try rephrasing or restructuring to focus on the part they actually would care about.

4. Do lots of iterations. Get feedback from others. You can also iterate on your writing yourself: I find that when I write something and come back to it later, I'm better at finding issues. In order to do a lot of iterations, that means you need to plan out your time. In my company, we often kick-off the doc writing process with a "working backwards" schedule: we're presenting to such-and-such VP on Day X, so we have to have a rough draft of the whole doc on Day Y, so we have to have drafts of individual pieces by Day Z.

5. Be aware of what kind of thing your writing. I'd say 75% of my writing, my audience is myself: I'm writing in order to work through thoughts. I approach that differently when I'm writing something for review by teammates, which I again approach differently from a doc written for other groups.

6. Maybe a bit controversial in some circles, but: Strunk and White ( It's a short book, and even if you don't do everything in it, the focus on clarity and succinctness is still useful.

by dblknotspy   2019-11-17

"onomatopoeia" Big word, had to look it up. I'm so sorry if I've offended you by my ignorance. Not really. Using proper spelling, punctuation, and sentence structure is really important to effective communication you might want to give this book a tumble:

by thecrowdwestmoved   2019-11-17

Acquire this book:

by j03nam3   2019-11-17

This will change your life The elements of style

by gesher   2019-11-17

I agree. OP should try reading these two books:

  • The Elements of Style by Strunk and White
  • On Writing Well by William Zinnser
by [deleted]   2019-11-17

When I was taking composition classes in college the first paper I submitted to my professor drove him up a wall because I come from a poetry background, so my commas were wherever I damn well pleased them to be, his only written comments were THIS, HAS, GOT, TO, STOP, and it was only my first submission. So I get the comma splice struggle, I often, and highly suggest Strunk and White's The Elements of Style, (9 dollars) that helped me with a lot of my grammar woes and gave me a roadmap for understanding and developing style. It has a list of 20 something "rules" for style do's and don'ts that were fairly revelatory for me, to have them laid plainly out was a godsend. Its a tiny book you could read in an evening but its a reference not a novel.

Everything else I mentioned just comes with reading a ton of books and sharing my writing with people who are far better at this stuff than I am, it is wise to revel in being deconstructed, I certainly do.

by tdellaringa   2019-11-17

Every writer should own this book. Hat tip to Stephen King.

by threadofhope   2019-08-24

Have you read Strunk & White's Elements of Style? It's a classic in writing English well. It's a short and interesting read.

by dblknotspy   2019-08-24

I'm not one to make an effort when it isn't needed, but I see a chance here to help. Don't care about the context of the original post. You're post "Literal fake news." why not just "Fake News", why use literal? Is that an effort to insure what you're saying is the bye god truth? When a writer's statement is prefaced by literally or honestly my first inclination is to think the writer is trying to impress the reader with their wordsmithing prowess. My second inclination is to assume that anything this person says that is not prefaced with literally or honestly is specious. Less is better in the written word, yes, you did use 'literal' correctly but you didn't need to use it at all, it only muddled what you were saying. There is a great book that will help your writing and really help your readers understand the information you're trying to convey. I've published one book and countless magazine, newspaper and short story articles and Strunk And White was a catalyst to get me going, here's a link✌

by dblknotspy   2019-08-24

Nice try at what? You could have dropped compartmentalize and tangentially and said the same thing only far more concisely. You don't have to dumb it down, you have to make it an understandable sentence. If a reasonably intelligent person has to stop and figure out what the hell you are saying you're saying it wrong. Most written word, news papers etc are written on an 8th grade level, not because people are stupid but because it's understandable. Trying to sound smart is pedant and off-putting, drop the pretence and just say in clear concise words what is on your mind. There's a great book for wannabe writers called Strunk & White's The Elements Of Style that will keep you from looking like a pseudo intellectual moron. Here's a link for it:

by theearthisasphere   2019-07-21

I'm 2 years into a part time physics degree, I'm in my 40s, dropped out of schooling earlier in life.

As I'm doing this for fun whilst I also have a full time job, I thought I would list what I'm did to supplement my study preparation.

I started working through these videos - Essence of Calculus as a start over the summer study whilst I had some down time.

Ive bought the following books in preparation for my journey and to start working through some of these during the summer prior to start

Elements of Style - A nice small cheap reference to improve my writing skills

The Humongous Book of Trigonometry Problems

Calculus: An Intuitive and Physical Approach

Trigonometry Essentials Practice Workbook

Systems of Equations: Substitution, Simultaneous, Cramer's Rule

Feynman's Tips on Physics

Exercises for the Feynman Lectures on Physics

Calculus for the Practical Man

The Feynman Lectures on Physics (all volumes)

I found PatrickJMT helpful, more so than Khan academy, not saying is better, just that you have to find the person and resource that best suits the way your brain works.

Now I'm deep in calculus and quantum mechanics, I would say the important things are:

Algebra - practice practice practice, get good, make it smooth.

Trig - again, practice practice practice.

Try not to learn by rote, try understand the why, play with things, draw triangles and get to know the unit circle well.

Good luck, it's going to cause frustrating moments, times of doubt, long nights and early mornings, confusion, sweat and tears, but power through, keep on trucking, and you will start to see that calculus and trig are some of the most beautiful things in the world.

by DimitriTheMad   2019-07-21

I noticed you mentioned having Grammar and style errors, if you want some help with grammar and style let me link you two extremely helpful books that are very low bullshit for their price:

The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition:

This is the best book for grammar help in my opinion, it's especially helpful if you still have to write essays.

On Writing: 10th Anniversary Edition: A Memoir of the Craft:

The first half of this book is a memoir, but the second half is absolutely packed with good advice for novels, regardless the genre.

The first book will help you catch those Grammar errors before you go back with another story, and the second will help you with Style. IE your "The elf walked with grace to the door." Sentence and how to avoid Adverbs.

by dblknotspy   2019-07-21

"Arguing with a trump supporter is like arguing with a wall that has no substance" Wowdy wow wow wow, you used a wall analogy that makes absolutely no sense to denigrate a Trump supporter. I'll have to check but I think calling someone a troll is an offence on this sub, I'll have to check. Reducing your argument to personal insults only affirms your magazine of logic is empty. Also here's a tip, read Strunk And White's The elements Of Style it might make your posts more understandable and less likely to make you look like an idiot, here's a link for it on Amazon, 9 bucks, cheap for not looking like an idiot

by mnorton   2019-06-03
I have kept around and distributed multiple copies of The Elements of Style, by Strunk and White, for the past few years (lots of revisions of this out there, 4th might be most recent iirc). It's like a 9$ book and the guidance is priceless.

by valbaca   2019-06-03
I've taken the class within Amazon.

Honestly there isn't anything that you couldn't get by simply reading and applying the advice from "The Elements of Style" by Strunk and White[1] and "On Writing Well" by Zinsser [2].

The primary philosophy is that if you can't write well, then you haven't thought it through. The act of writing is an act of reasoning.

0. Practice in a strong feedback loop. This applies for anything, not just writing.

1. Ruthlessly reduce your sentences. Repeat until you can't eliminate or combine any more words.

2. Avoid adverbs. Use "dashed" or "sprinted" instead of "ran quickly". Learn more words.

3. Avoid weasel words like "should" "could" "might". Take a stance and give concrete reasons.

4. Use concrete data over descriptors. "+5% profit" over "increased profit".

5. Write in active voice. Look up the "by Zombies" trick.

6. Use the simplest word that maintains your meaning. No one needs to use the word "utilize".



by StriverGuy   2018-03-08
I recommend getting three books and to begin writing at least 500 words per day distraction free (technical, fiction, stream of conscious):

1) On Writing Well - William Zinser

2) On Writing - Stephen King-

3) The Elements of Style - Strunk & White -

The two most important points are concise style and active voice. Both of these habits are critical for SEs to write concise emails, specs and commit messages. You will even see improvement in more casual day to day interactions (via slack, SMS etc).

by LolPharisees   2018-02-16

>along with a not-so-numb alcohol-induced dehydration headache


>I took a moment to recollect the last 18 hours as I had accepted the seemingly random last minute invite to the New Years poker party from a former colleague who had moved on a few months ago.

Is this supposed to be a sentence?

>Recently single, nearly lifeless, and despite not playing in 5+ years

>Little did I know that night would spark something within me, and with just one, two, seven deposits of $100-200 on Pokerstars I would soon be funding a poker trip to feed the soul of my competitive being.


by LolPharisees   2018-02-16

by nx_2000   2018-02-16

If your work is free of grammar and spelling errors you're probably ahead of most of your classmates right there.

You might read some books about writing like The Elements of Style. The only writing I've done professionally was for TV news. I read exactly one book on the subject, Writing Broadcast News by Mervin Block (he wrote for Cronkite). It's basically the Bible of broadcast writing and it was very instructive.

by spodek   2018-02-14
"Getting To Yes"

I've given away more copies of that book than any other. Improves all relationships.

"Elements of Style" aka Strunk and White.

I'd prefer they not only read Elements of Style, but work on it.