A Contemporary Take on Strunk and White for Legal Writers

15 Scribes Journal of Legal Writing 127 (2013)

26 Pages Posted: 29 Oct 2012 Last revised: 6 May 2014

Judith D. Fischer

University of Louisville - Louis D. Brandeis School of Law

Date Written: 2013

Abstract

The Elements of Style, often called “Strunk and White,” has evoked both strong praise and vehement criticism. In the legal field, scholars often cite the book as an authority on grammar and style, as do judges, who sometimes order lawyers to read it. But detractors have criticized The Elements of Style as filled with “inconsistent nonsense” and even “hogwash.” This article examines the book and the critiques of it to consider whether legal writers should continue to revere it. The article points out the book’s flaws and concludes that it is time to demote Strunk and White to the bottom bookshelf and fill its former space with more current and effective resources.

Keywords: Strunk and White, The Elements of Style, William Strunk, E.B. White, grammar, prescriptive grammar, writing style, descriptive grammar, wordy, wordiness, legal writing, legal writers, books on legal writing

Suggested Citation

Fischer, Judith D., A Contemporary Take on Strunk and White for Legal Writers (2013). 15 Scribes Journal of Legal Writing 127 (2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2168446

Judith D. Fischer (Contact Author)

University of Louisville - Louis D. Brandeis School of Law ( email )

Wilson W. Wyatt Hall
Louisville, KY 40292
United States

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