Elements of Style


William Strunk, Jr.

Professor of English
Cornell University

Privately Printed
Ithaca, New York

By William Strunk, Jr.

Press of W. P. Humphrey, Geneva, N.Y.


I. Introductory

II. Elementary Rules of Usage

1. Form the possessive singular of nouns with '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

4. Place a comma before and or but introducing an independent clause

5. Do not join independent clauses by a comma

6. Do not break sentences in two

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

8. Divide words at line-ends, in accordance with their formation and pronunciation

III. Elementary Principles of Composition

9. Make the paragraph the unit of composition: one paragraph to each topic

10. As a rule, begin each paragraph with a topic sentence; end it in conformity with the beginning

11. Use the active voice

12. Put statements in positive form

13. Omit needless words

14. Avoid a succession of loose sentences

15. Express co-ordinate ideas in similar form

16. Keep related words together

17. In summaries, keep to one tense

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

IV. A Few Matters of Form

V. Words and Expressions Commonly Misued

VI. Words Commonly Misspelled