The following is a list
of the seven elementary rules
usage and 11 elementary principles of composition from William Strunk
, Jr.'s classic work, The Elements of Style
. In addition is a list the "reminders" for writers
added by E. B. White
in his edition of Strunk
. The complete text
of the original
Strunk edition is available on the Web site
at Columbia University
Strunk's Seven Elementary Rules of English Usage
- Form the possessive singular of nouns by adding 's.
- In a series of three or more terms with a single conjunction, use a comma after each term except the last.
- Enclose parenthetic expressions between commas.
- Place a comma before a conjunction introducing an independent clause.
- Do not join independent clauses by a comma.
- Do not break sentences in two.
- A participial phrase at the beginning of a sentence must refer to the grammatical subject.
Strunk's 11 Elementary Principles of Composition
- Choose a suitable design and hold to it.
- Make the paragraph the unit of composition.
- Use the active voice.
- Put statements in positive form.
- Use definite, specific, concrete language.
- Omit needless words.
- Avoid a succession of loose sentences.
- Express coordinate ideas in similar form.
- Keep related words together.
- In summaries, keep to one tense.
- Place the emphatic words of a sentence at the end.
White's List of 21 Reminders to Writers
For more information, refer to Danlowlite's Writeup The Elements of Style.
- Place yourself in the background.
- Write in a way that comes naturally.
- Work from a suitable design.
- Write with nouns and verbs.
- Revise and rewrite.
- Do not overwrite.
- Do not overstate.
- Avoid the use of qualifiers.
- Do not affect a breezy manner.
- Use orthodox spelling.
- Do not explain too much.
- Do not construct awkward adverbs.
- Make sure the reader knows who is speaking.
- Avoid fancy words.
- Do not use dialect unless your ear is good.
- Be clear.
- Do not inject opinion.
- Use figures of speech sparingly.
- Do not take shortcuts at the cost of clarity.
- Avoid foreign languages.
- Prefer the standard to the offbeat.