Elements of Style

The Elements of Style refers to linguistic and textual attributes that are highly associated with clarity in writing. Improve the clarity of your writing by learning about  brevity, flow, inclusivity, page/screen design & scannability, simplicity, unity, usability, and visual appeal.
One sign on Golden Gate Bridge says "Bike Route" while the sign under it says "No Bicycles."

Photo Credit: Moxley

One sign on Golden Gate Bridge says "Bike Route" while the sign under it says "No Bicycles."

Related Concepts: Ableist Language; Grammar; RegisterRhetorical AnalysisRhetoricRhetorical Reasoning StyleToneVoice.

What are The Elements of Style?

1. The Elements of Style refers to the textual attributes that are associated with clarity, authority and persuasiveness in writing and speech.


Brevity refers to the practice of using the fewest possible words in your communications. In our contemporary information ecosystem, readers are assaulted by information. Less is more.


Clarity, refers to the quality of being easily understood and comprehended by the reader. Learn how to establish clarity in your communications. Reflect on the importance of evidence; concrete, sensory language; logical organization; and an appropriate style


Design is a powerful tool of communication that empowers writers, graphic designers, and product developers to reach their target audience at the visual level. Evaluate how you’re leveraging the power of visual language to achieve your goals.


Flow, in the context of writing, refers to the seamless and coherent progression of ideas, facilitated by effective sentence structure, smooth transitions, and logical organization. Flow contributes to a reader’s ease of understanding and engagement with the content.



Simplicity is a judgment made by people (e.g., readers & users) about whether a text or design of a product or app is as simple as possible given the complexity of the topic and rhetorical situation.  Simplicity is a highly prized attribute of communication


Unity is much more than a tight control over an argument or narrative: it’s a feeling, a felt sense, that a text is complete, whole, and that all of the parts—and nothing more are present. 

2. The Elements of Style refers to the title of an influential handbook published by William Strunk (1918)

William Strunk’s first self published The Elements of Style in 1918 to concisely summarize the basic rules and conventions writers needed to follow in order to write with authority.

Strunk conceptualized the elements of style to be composed of a few elementary rules of usage and composition, a few matters of form, and some misspelled words and misused expressions:

Contents, The Elements of Style (Strunk 1918)

Elements of Style PDF

Works Cited

Strunk, W. (1918). The elements of style. OCLC 781988921

Strunk, W., In White, E. B., White, E. B., & White, E. B. (1957). The elements of style (3rd edition). New York: Macmillan. OCLC 878906498.

Williams, Joseph and Joseph Bizup (2016). Style: lessons in clarity and grace, 12th Edition. Pearson Education. ISBN-13: 978-0134080413

Zinsser, W. (2006). On writing well (30th ed.). HarperCollins.