The Table of Contents from The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr., & E.B.White


Elementary Rules of Usage

  1. Form the possessive singular of nouns by adding s
  2. In a series of three or more terms with a single conjunction, use a comma after each term except the last
  3. Enclose parenthetic expressions between commas
  4. Place a comma before a conjunction introducing an independent clause
  5. Do not join independent clauses by a comma
  6. Done not break sentences in two
  7. A participle phrase at the beginning of a sentence must refer to the grammatical subject.


Elementary Principles of Composition

  1. Choose a suitable design and hold to it
  2. Make the paragraph the unit of composition
  3. Use the active voice
  4. Put statements in a positive form
  5. Use definite, specific, concrete language
  6. Omit needless words
  7. Avoid a succession of loose sentences
  8. Express co-ordinate ideas in similar form
  9. Keep related words together
  10. In summaries, keep to one tense
  11. Place the emphatic words of a sentence at the end


(Two chapters here on matters of form and commonly misused words and expressions)


An Approach to Style

  1. Place yourself in the background
  2. Write in a way that comes naturally
  3. Work from a suitable design
  4. Write with nouns and verbs
  5. Revise and rewrite
  6. Do not overwrite
  7. Do not overstate
  8. Avoid the use of qualifiers
  9. Do not affect a breezy manner
  10. Use orthodox spelling
  11. Do not explain too much
  12. Do not construct awkward adverbs
  13. Make sure the reader knows who is speaking
  14. Avoid fancy words
  15. Do not use dialect unless your ear is good
  16. Be clear
  17. Do not inject opinions
  18. Use figures of speech sparingly
  19. Do not take shortcuts at the cost of clarity
  20. Avoid foreign languages
  21. Prefer the standard to the offbeat