Elements of Style
by William Strunk and E.B. White
Why I picked it up: This book actually is listed as a recommended resource in The Copyeditor’s Handbook, and I’d been curious ever since I heard of it. I finally made an excuse to buy it (it’s inexpensive, but if you don’t know already, I’m fairly spend-conscious) and I’m really glad I did. I purchased the paperback copy, because when it comes to reference books, I like to be able to flip back and forth easily.
Elements of Style gets straight to the point. It is a nice reminder–or introduction, depending on who you are–of the rules of writing in the English language. It deals with punctuation, clarity, concision, and effective sentences, among other things.
Once the examples were introduced as the incorrect/less-preferable on the left, and the correct/more-preferable on the right, I felt like sometimes I needed a reminder as to which was which, especially if I took a break in reading it for a while. I could have used some more examples and more thorough explaining of the existing ones.
Elements of Style is not the be-all-end-all definitive guide to the English language, and certainly not a guide on how to write fiction, but it is definitely a good resource to have on hand. As a guide, Strunk and White may have some views on writing that not everyone agrees on, but the basics are there for the easy taking.
Have you ever used this resource? What others do you suggest?