The Elements of Style Themes

William Strunk Jr.
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Brevity

One principle that runs throughout The Elements of Style is that of brevity. To Strunk and White, good writing expresses thoughts economically. One of their "principles of composition" is to "omit needless words." The next rule advises to "avoid a succession of loose sentences." Later in the book, they instruct: "Do not explain too much." By way of examples, they shorten "in a hasty manner" to "hastily," "he is a man who" to "he," and so on. They make a special example of "the fact that," stating flatly, "It should be revised out of every sentence in which it occurs."

This theme of the book matched Strunk's personality and his teaching emphasis, as White remembers in his introduction to The Elements of Style:

"Omit needless words!" cries the author on page 23, and into that imperative Will Strunk really put his heart and soul. In the days when I...

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This section contains 594 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Elements of Style Study Guide
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Nonfiction Classics for Students
The Elements of Style from Nonfiction Classics for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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