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
Date Written: 2013
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
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