The Elements of Style [Third Edition] (Image credit: Chris Drumm)

The Elements of Styleis a classic writing style guide that was originally written in 1918 but is still in use today. Very few textbooks gain as much traction and stay as relevant over long periods of time like this book has achieved.

The book contains a variety of topics among its several sections. These include eight rules of usage pertaining to grammar, 10 principles of communication, a list of 49 expressions and terms that are commonly misused in writing, and a list of 57 commonly misspelled words. Its main focus is to help students learn techniques to make their writing clear and concise. In one section, the authors tell readers to “make every word tell” and to “omit needless words” since students oftentimes over-write by using run-on sentences and unnecessary adjectives to make a point in their academic writing.

The book’s authors are William Strunk, Jr. and E. B. White. Strunk was an English professor at Cornell University in New York. He privately published the book and intended for his students to use it, who referred to it as “the little book.” Little did he know, it would become a huge success in the world of academia. White was a longtime contributing writer to The New Yorker magazine, which has featured several famous authors over the years. He also wrote two influential children’s books – Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little.

There have been a number of versions and editions of the book published over the years. The most recent edition, which was released in 2009, is called The Elements of Style (Fiftieth Anniversary Edition). Others include The Elements of Style Illustrated (2005) and The Elements of Style: A Guide for Writers (2005). The book was published by Pearson Education Company, and the original book is just 105 pages long, which is a reflection of the authors’ desire for students to focus their efforts on brevity and conciseness in their writing.

In 2011, TIME magazine ranked The Elements of Style on a list of the 100 best and most influential English books that have been published since 1923. The book is used in various college classrooms in which students are taught subjects like writing, English, literature, or even journalism.

If you need a copy of this book for one of your English, writing, journalism, or literature classes, use to find a copy of it. It’s a very reasonably priced book and is available from most local textbook outlets and online bookstores.