The Elements of Style may seem like an unusual choice of reading material for someone trying to improve his web development skills. But from a personal improvement aspect, the book was entirely appropriate. On top of that, the web site I’m working on is a writing web site, so having the style and grammar reference book on my shelf only makes sense.
I actually checked this book out from the library, but I just placed an order for it on half.com. It’s dry, no doubt, but often reference material is dry. Yet I think the book is a must read for anyone whose career depends in the least bit on writing. Whether one is writing a blog, 100-word story, or user scenario, clear and natural writing can be an outstanding skill to have.
It was difficult to take notes on a reference book, but there are a couple things I wrote down along the way.
The reading list has been updated, natch.
A tame passage of exposition can be made lively by using a transitive in an active voice.
Thousands of people were walking toward the square.
- Thousands of people enveloped the square.
Write statements in positive form; even when the statements are negative.
He did not want a lousy MP3 player.
- He thought off-brand MP3 players were junk.
- stupid, ignorant
Avoid introducing uncertainty (would, might) unless clearly appropriate.
Be specific, not generic.
Omit needless words. Every word should tell.
And a great William Strunk quote: Vigorous writing is concise.
Bonus brain dump:
I also paged through
Maruku could not parse this XML/HTML: <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Elements-Typographic-Style-Robert-Bringhurst/dp/0881792063/sr=8-1/qid=1169468081/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/104-5364703-3459945?ie=UTF8&s=books"><em>The Elements of Typographic Style</em></a>, though I was not inspired to read the book. By all accounts it’s a good book, but it just didn’t grab me. I may come back to it later when I have some more time for related, but perhaps not necessary, reading material. For now I plan to follow the Elements of Typographic Style Applied to the Web project.
During my paging I found two helpful tips:
Typically paragraph indents occur in all but the first paragraph. The indent tends to be of about 1 em. The reason for this is that a paragraph indent is designed to depict separation. The first paragraph of a section/chapter/whatever is usually separated from the header or description preceding it.
When typing abbreviations or acronyms within the flow of text, use small caps. The exceptions are two-letter geographic acronyms, like MN, and acronyms that represent personal names, such as JFK.