The Style File: Strunk and White vs. Williams
What is the definition of style? Is there an exact way of interpreting style individuals create in their writing? What is the importance and function of style in the writing process? Does style really matter? Before encountering books such as William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White’s “The Elements of Style” and Joesph M. Williams “Style Toward Clarity and Grace” I had not put much thought into these questions. My main focus was to get my writing assignments completed, turned in, and out of my mind. However, these two books create a whole new outlook on the world of writing for any individual who can open the cover and their mind.
“Style” strives to explain how writers can improve clarity, cohesion, usage, and elegance to become a more effective writer. This book is not meant to be read once, for the full potential can not be achieved unless it is absorbed several times. Packed from cover to cover with real life examples ranging from the worst imaginable to greatly improved, Williams provides a detailed explanation of how to transform any writers work. Charts, graphs, and diagrams may add some confusion but can be helpful for individuals who depend upon visual aids.
On the same note, “The Elements of Style” also entails rules, guidelines, and examples for the purpose of the writer’s improvement. However, the approach is entirely different. This little book entails several important topics including rules of usage, missed used words and expressions, principles of composition, and approaches to style. The advice in “Elements of Style” is simple, clear, and straight to the point. Rules are short, and boldface so they are easy to quickly look up if the writer is in need of a quick on the spot tutorial. Following the boldface rule are a few statements or paragraphs with an explanation. Examples are only found for some of the rules but the ones given are not as elaborate as in “Style.” This book allows for a quick read and refreshing of rules and guidelines that have been encountered throughout an individuals writing career.
There are several aspects of Strunk and White and Williams books that I had already learned years ago and forgotten or had just discovered for the first time.