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

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McGraw Hill Professional, Apr 22, 2004 - Business & Economics - 93 pages

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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Elephant 01 Remember That Youre Not Using a Typewriter
Elephant 02 Letters of the Law
Elephant 03 Whats Up?
Elephant 04 What To Abbrev?
Elephant 05 Which One Is Right Again?
Elephant 06 Lies Your English Teacher Told You
Elephant 07 Some Gray Areas
Elephant 08 Agreed?
Elephant 11 The Adventures Of Curly And Stitch
Elephant 12 Flair Elan Panache
Elephant 13 Writers Typist Thieves And Liars
Elephant 14 Writing And Rewriting
The Curmudgeons Stylebook Continued
About the Author

Elephant 09 Cover Your S
Elephant 10 A Number Of Problems

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Common terms and phrases

Popular passages

Page 58 - Ala., Alaska, Ariz., Ark., Calif, Colo., Conn., Del., Fla., Ga., Hawaii, Idaho, 111., Ind., Iowa, Kan., Ky., La., Maine, Md., Mass., Mich., Minn., Miss., Mo., Mont., Neb., Nev., NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, Ohio, Okla., Ore., Pa., RI, SC, SD, Tenn., Texas, Utah, Vt., Va., Wash., W.Va., Wis.
Page 159 - Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
Page 104 - When used in the sense of two people, the word takes plural verbs and pronouns: The couple were married Saturday and left Sunday on their honeymoon. They will return in two weeks. In the sense of a single unit, use a singular •verb: Each couple was asked to give $10.
Page 11 - A burro is an ass. A burrow is a hole in the ground. As a journalist you are expected to know the difference.
Page 109 - The fliers plunged to their death. The men earned their living. The three were held prisoner.
Page 167 - It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,
Page 155 - Try to preserve an author's style if he is an author and has a style.
Page 115 - wherever the apostrophe and s would make the word difficult to pronounce, as when a sibilant occurs before the last syllable.
Page 4 - Question marks and exclamation points go inside or outside quotation marks depending on whether
Page 115 - names of more than one syllable when the last syllable starts as well as ends with an s or s sound and when that last syllable is unaccented:

About the author (2004)

Bill Walsh (Washington, DC) is copy chief for the Washington Post Business Desk and the creator of the highly popular website The Slot: A Spot for Copyeditors.

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