I’m re-reading some and I’m sorry it took me this long to re-read them. With the volume of electronic communication we produce and consume daily, I believe it’s more important than ever to be mindful of the use of capitalization, punctuation, and spelling. Not only does this make you appear more competent (not smart, just not stupid), but it assures people read and understand what you are trying to say.
The Elements of Style, is under 100 pages including index, glossary, Introduction (E.B. White), and Afterword (Charles Osgood). It is a quick read and essential guide to English. The Introduction sums it up best:
“Seven rules of usage, eleven principles of composition, a few matters of form, and a list of words and expressions commonly misused – that was the sum and substance of Professor Strunk’s work.”
I recommend reading The Elements of Style first. It’s concise, and offers the greatest benefit for the least amount of effort. Leave it in the bathroom, and set a reminder to re-read it every 3-4 months until you have incorporated it into your everyday communication.
On Writing Well is a more comprehensive guide, and will require a bit more effort to read and process. This should still be left in the bathroom or bedside table.
The Elements of Style – Strunk and White
On Writing Well – William Zinsser