The Elements of Style are stylistic attributes used by writers. . . designers . . . artists. These elements are syntactical patterns found in texts. They are visual patterns found in visual media (e.g., Charts, Figures, Graphs, Tables; Icons, Ideograms, Pictographs; Illustrations; Photography). They are commonplaces.
The Elements of Style are valued across discourse communities, including academic writing, creative writing, professional writing, and workplace writing. Texts that possess these stylistic attributes are described as reader-based prose. Texts that lack these attributes are called writer-based because they only make sense to the writer.
Style may be analyzed at the micro or macro level:
- Examples of valued language practices at the global/rhetorical level are whether a rhetor stays focused on unified topic, maintains a consistent rhetorical stance, and provides substantive content, especially evidence for claims.
- Examples of language practices at the local/syntactical level are the rhetor’s diction, sentence structure, paragraph structure.
Key Concepts: Styles of Writing
The Elements of Style is a topic rooted in history, social and cultural practices, and the human mind. Over the years there has been a great deal of research in corpus linguistics to better understand language practices in situ and the effects of those practices on readability and comprehension. Brevity; Clarity; Diction; Flow, Coherence, Unity and Simplicity—these attributes are most frequently praised by stylists, such as Joseph Williams, Joseph Bizup or William Zinsser.
Styles are constantly changing as a result of new communication technologies and practices. Style plays a major role in the commercialization of any product or service. The study of styles has deep roots in multiple disciplines. Linguists, stylists, developers–and other Knowledge Workers . . . analyze
- the linguistic attributes of written and spoken discourse
- the design elements of art and visual discourse
- the design principles of art and visual discourse
Numerous stylists have written on Style. And, of course, writers often reflect on style and their craft.