A Copywriter's Ode to The Elements of Style

by Dean Rieck

The best book ever written on the art of effective writing is The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White.

There is much good advice in this classic text, especially in the last 20 pages, titled "An Approach to Style." Nowhere have I seen more helpful advice in so few words and with such precision. This is why this book is always on my desk within reach.

I will leave it to you to explore this book on your own. But I would like to provide my own version of select advice from this essential reference. This applies to all writing, of course, but it is particularly important for advertising copy.

There are many fine books on good writing. But I have yet to find one that surpasses The Elements of Style. When you find yourself mired in a thought that won't resolve itself on paper, this book raps you on the head like a ball-peen hammer. It's written with the same simplicity and clarity it advocates.

When writing fails, the most common causes are that the writer doesn't have something to say, or the writer is too concerned with affecting a style, or both. Follow the suggestions here, and you will avoid these problems and many others. Plus you will find that your ad copy is more lively, more meaningful, and more profitable.

Copyright © 2007 Dean Rieck. All Rights Reserved.
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