The Elephants of Style : A Trunkload of Tips on the Big Issues and Gray Areas of Contemporary American English

The Elephants of Style : A Trunkload of Tips on the Big Issues and Gray Areas of Contemporary American English

Bill Walsh

Language: English

Pages: 238

ISBN: 0071422684

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Advice on good writing from everybody's favorite editorial curmudgeon

Persnickety, cantankerous, opinionated, entertaining, hilarious, wise...these are a few of the adjectives reviewers used to describe good-writing maven Bill Walsh's previous book, Lapsing Into a Comma. Now, picking up where he left off in Lapsing, Walsh addresses the dozen or so biggest issues that every writer or editor must master. He also offers a trunkload of good advice on the many little things that add up to good writing. Featuring all the elements that made Lapsing such a fun read, including Walsh's trademark acerbic wit and fascinating digressions on language and its discontents, The Elephants of Style provides:

  • Tips on how to tame the "elephants of style"--the most important, frequently confused elements of good writing
  • More of Walsh's popular "Curmudgeon's Stylebook"--includes entries such as Snarky Specificity, Metaphors, Near and Far, Actually is the New Like, and other uses and misuses of language
  • Expert advice for writers and editors on how to work together for best results

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Names Names, aside from initials, are virtually never abbreviated. Please, no Chas., Robt. or Wm., unless you’re writing for the phone book. Corporate Identifiers Many publications, including most newspapers, abbreviate such things as Inc., Co., Corp. and Ltd., if they use them at all, in company names. The New York Times abbreviates only Inc. and its foreign equivalents (including Ltd.). 48 The Elephants of St yle Initial Reactions and Second Thoughts (IRAST) Sometimes, as I learned at an

you’ll see just how elementary this is. Possessives are appropriate with apposition. Apposition occurs when you describe something, comma, and then name it, comma. The use of the is often an indicator that apposition is taking place. No possessive: Redskins quarterback Patrick Ramsey is injured. Yes possessive: The Redskins’ quarterback, Patrick Ramsey, is injured. Be aware, though, that apposition and its commas introduce a complication that the simple adjectival label does not. If you’ve been

invent a nonexistent “Webster’s Dictionary” (see “Webster” in the Curmudgeon’s Stylebook chapter). Welcome to the World Of Dirty plates piled as high as the eye can see. Steam above and fetid water below, for eight, nine, 10 hours at a time. Indecent proposals from male co-workers. Minimum wage and no tips. Welcome to the world of dishwasher Jillian Barnes. Not Alone Michelle Goins started seeing unfamiliar charges on her Visa card last summer. She started calling around and soon learned she

you a Stephen Glass, but, again—same phylum. If you’re interviewing someone who says, “I ain’t got no problem with them there neighbors,” you may write: “I ain’t got no problem with them there neighbors,” he said. And you may write: He said he has “no problem” with his neighbors. And I wouldn’t advise it, for aesthetic reasons, but you’d be on solid ethical ground to write: “I . . . got no problem with . . . [the] neighbors,” he said. But you may not write: “I have no problem with the neighbors,”

(Abbreviated explanation: Words based on single letters have never lost their hyphens, no matter how frequently they’re used. It’s X-ray, not Xray, Tshirt, not Tshirt, etc.) One update since “Lapsing Into a Comma”: E-mail is acceptable as a noun meaning e-mail message (an e-mail, several e-mails). It’s just too awkward to write e-mail message every time, and although you wouldn’t write “The letter carrier brought me three mails today,” there is no e-mail equivalent to letters or parcels. The

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