21 Hints for Better Writing, from ELEMENTS OF STYLE

Elements of Style, Fourth Edition

 By William Strunk, Jr., and E. B. White


This excellent classic has been updated recently and remains one of the best concise guides to fine writing.

In one portion of the book, the writers give 21 hints to improved writing, and explain each in, typically, a few pages of text. Here are the hints:

1. Place yourself in the background.

2. Write in a way that comes naturally.

3. Work from a suitable design.

4. Write with nouns and verbs.

5. Revise and re-write.

6. Do not overwrite.

7. Do not overstate.

8 . Avoid the use of qualifiers.

9. Do not affect a breezy manner.

10. Use orthodox spelling.

11. Do not explain too much.

12. Do not construct awkward adverbs.

13. Make sure the reader knows who is speaking.

14. Avoid fancy words.

15. Do not use dialect and less your ear is good.

16. Be clear.

17. Do not inject opinion.

18. Use figures of speech sparingly.

19. Do not take shortcuts at the cost of clarity.

20. Avoid foreign languages.

21. Prefer the standard to the offbeat.


Their explanations and examples are well worth reading.