Tuesday, November 1, 2005

Elements of Style

I had heard of William Strunk's Elements of Style long ago. I finally saw what all the fuss is about when I found this online HTML version of the book [alternate link].

Much of this 1918 work is still relevant today. I was surprised to find that many misused and/or hackneyed words and phrases have been around for many years.

When I write English, I borrow techniques I use to write code. I start with a syntactically correct body of text that gets the job done. I then revise and optimize: I reword, rephrase, replace and remove lines, aiming for clean, concise, efficient and effective writing.

The analogy isn't perfect. With prose, I'll throw in extra words if I like the way it sounds, but for code, I'll sacrifice style for performance.

Some of the rules in Elements of Style seem to achieve the same goals, though they are explained from a nonprogrammer's viewpoint!

No comments: