The Elements of Style by E. B. White

Parker Klein ✌️
Published in
3 min readFeb 12, 2022


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Writing is hard, even for authors who do it all the time

Write in a way that comes naturally. Revise and rewrite. Do not explain too much. Be clear

Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all sentences short or avoid all detail and treat subjects only in outline, but that every word tell

Cut “this is a subject that” to “this subject”

Trim “used for fuel purposes” down to “used for fuel”

Worse to be irresolute than to be wrong

If you don’t know how to pronounce a word, say it loud!

Why compound ignorance with inaudibility? Why run and hide?

The reader was in serious trouble most of the time, floundering in a swamp, and that it was the duty of anyone attempting to write English to drain this swamp quickly and get the reader up on the dry ground, or at least to throw a rope

The pronominal possessives hers, its, theirs, yours, and ours have no apostrophe

1. Form the possessive singular of nouns by adding ‘s

Follow this rule whatever the final consonant. Charles’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.

A name or a title in direct address is parenthetic

No comma, however, should separate a noun from a restrictive term of identification

Nonrestrictive relative clauses are parenthetic, as are similar clauses introduced by conjunctions indicating time or place. Commas are therefore needed. A nonrestrictive clause is one that does not serve to identify or define the antecedent noun

4. Place a comma before a conjunction introducing an independent clause

5. Do not join independent clauses with a comma

The correct punctuation is a semi-colon

6. Do not break sentences in two

Do not use periods for commas

7. Use a colon after an independent clause to introduce a list of particulars, an appositive, an amplification, or an illustrative quotation

9. The number of the subject determines the number of the verb

11. A participial phrase at the beginning of a sentence must refer to the grammatical subject

14. Use the active voice

15. Put statements in a positive form

If your sentence admits a doubt, your writing will lack authority

Save the auxiliaries would, should, could, may, might, and can fit situations involving real uncertainty

The surest way to arouse snd hold the readers attention is by being specific, definite, and concrete

17. Omit needless words

An article or a preposition applying to all the members of a series must either be used only before the first term or else be repeated before each term

20. Keep related words together

21. In summaries, keep to one tense

22. Place the emphatic words of a sentence at the end

Do not draw attention to a colloquialism or a slang word by enclosing it in quotation marks

Exclamation marks are to be reserved for use after true exclamations or commands

Write with nouns and verbs, not with adjectives and adverbs

Revising is part of writing

Avoid the use of qualifiers

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Parker Klein ✌️

Former @Google @Qualcomm @PizzaNova. Building Twos: write, remember & share *things* (