I became familiar with Elements of Style in my journalism class while attending Perelandra College. Since then, it has remained as my “go to” guide when I have a question about English grammar.

Elements of Style was originally written in 1918 by William Strunk Jr., as a textbook for his Cornell English class. Resembling more of a condensed reference book than textbook, Elements of Style touches on the most common mistakes found in writing including: basic grammar rules; punctuation usage; principles of composition; matters of form; and even the most commonly misspelled words. Nearly all explanations are rife with examples. Listed below are ten rules from Elements of Style that I try and apply; improving myself as a writer.

1. Determining apostrophe usage with possessive singular nouns.

2. Omitting needless words; making my writing tighter with more clarity. For example, avoiding “who is,” and “which was,” and other superfluous words that can are deemed verbal camouflage.

3. Maintaining one tense throughout.

4. Distinguishing between the usage of comma’s, colon’s, and semi-colons. For example: enclosing parenthetic expressions between commas (if the sentence can stand on its own without the parenthetic expression then commas are necessary); and replacing a comma with a semi-colon when joining two or more independent clauses.

5. One piece of dialog is a single paragraph, even if its one word. Often times I see: “Let’s go Jim,” said Joe, then continued, “we’re going to be late.” This type of sentence breaks the rule. Is this correct?

6. The active voice is more direct and vigorous than the passive voice.

7. Avoid tame, colorless, hesitating, and non-committal language. Use words that are more concise and positive.

8. Shorter sentences are preferred over longer sentences.

9. If it is obvious who is speaking, there is no reason to say, “he said,” after the dialog.

10. Most of the words and expressions. For example: all right; whether; certainly; and fewer instead of less.

Elements of Style continues to endure its reputation as the premier handbook for English language usage today. As long as I write, Elements of Style will be by my side.