Omit Needless Words – The Elements of Style

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.

– William Strunk Jr. The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition, p. 23.


A great quote from a book that should be studied by every English reader.

The original 1918 edition is online for free.   

5 thoughts on “Omit Needless Words – The Elements of Style

  1. There’s a great quote by the author Elmore Leonard. He wrote Get Shorty and about 50 other novels.

    He said that the secret to writing a great novel, “I leave out the parts people skip.”

    He also said that if it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.

    I see lots of blog posts that are one long continuous paragraph. Sometimes even one long sentence. Writing to be read is a lot different than academic mumbo, jumbo.

  2. Dakwegmo- Thanks for the link to your on post Pleonasm.
    It reminds me of a wonderful line from the book “Why Business people speak like Idiots: A Bullfighter’s Guide.”

    “This is just the kind of synergistic, customer-centric, upsell-driven, churn-reducing, outside-the box, customizable, strategically tactical, best-of-breed, seamlessly integrated, multichannel thought-leadership that will help our clients track to true north. Let’s fly this up the flagpole and see where the push-back is.”

    – Why Business people speak like Idiots: A Bullfighter’s Guide, by Brian Fugere, Chelsea Hardaway and Jon Warshawsky. (Free Press, Div. Simon & Schuster, 2005)

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