The Elements of Style (review: 3/5)

I’m not sure what all the fuss is about. The Elements of Style is a handy little guide, sure. Brief, pithy. I suppose I’ve just heard it mentioned so many times that I was expecting a bit more. Honestly the best part of this particular edition of Elements was the illustrations by Maira Kalman. (Kalman has done a year-long illustrated story in the New York Times, which will soon be released in her book The Principles of Uncertainty.)
Elements didn’t earn a place on my shelf. It touches on some of the nuts and bolts of writing, and some of the philosophy, but none of the sections really feel complete. If you’re looking for clinical advice on commas and grammar, you’re probably better off with a dedicated grammar book or style guide. And if you’re looking to seriously clean up your text, and to apply some thought and reason to your writing, for my money the better choice is something like Joseph Williams’ Style: The Basics of Clarity and Grace.

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