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Notes of [Elements of Style] by Strunk and White – II(a)

  1. Make the paragraph the unit of composition
    • A paragraph is a topic, a step further into the writing subject;
  2. After the paragraph has been written, examine it to see whether division will improve it
  3. The beginning of each paragraph is a signal to him that a new step in the development of the subject has been reached
  4. As a rule, begin each paragraph either with a sentence that suggests the topic or with a sentence that helps the transition.
  5. Use the active voice
    • [NO] There were a great number of dead leaves lying on the ground;
    • [YES] Dead leaves covered the ground.
  6. Many a tame sentence of description or exposition can be made lively and emphatic by substituting a transitive in the active voice for some such perfunctory expression as there is or could be heard.
  7. Consciously or unconsciously, the reader is dissatisfied with being told only what is not; he wishes to be told what is. Hence, as a rule, it is better to express even a negative in positive form.
    • not honest -> dishonest
    • not important -> trifling
    • did not remember -> forgot
    • did not pay attention to -> ignored
    • did not have much confidence in -> distrusted
  8. The surest way to arouse and hold the attention of the reader is by being specific, definite, and concrete.
  9. Omit needless words
    • the question as to whether -> whether
    • there is no doubt but that -> no doubt
    • used for fuel purposes -> used for fuel
    • he is a man who -> he
    • in a hasty manner -> hastily
    • this is a subject that -> this subject
    • His story is a strange one -> His story is strange
    • the reason why is that -> because

About Xiang 'Anthony' Chen

Making an Impact in Your Life


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