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Reading :: Style: Ten Lessons in Clarity and Grace

Posted by: on Mar 25, 2009 | 3 Comments

Style: Ten Lessons in Clarity and Grace (7th Edition)
By Joseph M. Williams

A short review. I still have the third edition of this book, which I used in a technical editing class (I think) in my MA program. It had a big impact on my writing style. The seventh edition is similarly illuminating, and it’s also genuinely pleasurable to read.

On the other hand, Williams’ own style is a bit talky for me. I lean toward much more spare prose, and I take a harder line against expletives. That hard line probably stems from my tech comm training and orientation.

In any case, a great book. I’m about to take a look at the short version, Style: The Basics of Clarity and Grace (3rd Edition).


  1. Janet S.
    March 25, 2009

    “Ten Lessons” is a text book, while “The Basics” is more of a guide for busy writers.

    I love these books. Strunk and White tell you to “omit needless words”, but Williams helps you figure out which words are needless.

    I was privileged to take a couple of classes from Joe Williams as an undergrad at University of Chicago, and I was saddened to hear of his passing last year.

  2. Tom Moertel
    April 16, 2009

    I also have the 3rd edition of Style: Ten Lessons. Do you think the later editions (what are we up to now, the 9th?) are improved enough to merit a new purchase?

    Also, what did you think of Style: The Basics?

    Cheers! –Tom

  3. Clay Spinuzzi
    April 16, 2009

    Tom – I think the upgrade probably wouldn’t be worth it for a personal handbook, but I’d use the later one for a class. Ashamed to say I have not gotten through Style: The Basics yet. Will have to catch it after the semester is over…

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