Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Elements of Style

Nearly all journalists or English language writers know and use The Elements of Style. It is a short but impactful book. Even high-school newspaper students rely on it. It is the handbook to the basics of good writing.
Student Assignment: Darien
Write a review of the classic Elements of Style. Reference the book, and feel free to listen to the audio file of the book, which is on your travel drive.

First, read the entire assignment — you may want to break this one assignment into several posts: 1) a straightforward book review, 2) rules to remember from the book, and 3) Maira Kalman’s illustration of the book. Or, simply do one assignment how you see fit. (Remember, you are the reporter — consider your audience and your information, write what you think is most relevant, interesting, and meaningful.)

As usual, explain the five W’s of news reporting for any story:
  • Who
  • What
  • When
  • Where
  • Why
The following links provide some background information (remember to source and information you use):

For the reader, point out that there are many versions of this book, which was first printed in 1918. Some of these versions are online and searchable. Google Books has a copy, as well as Bartleby.
  • What do you consider the three to five most-helpful rules in the book?
For the most part, the words in the book have stayed the change. However, the formatting has changed. Consider Maira Kalman’s paintings published alongside the how-to-style text:
  • What do you think she was trying to achieve with her images?
  • How do her images relate to the text?
  • What do you like about the style or sense of humor of her artwork?
  • Which of her children’s books look most interesting?
  • What do you think of her video clip “Elements of Style”? Again, what do you think she was trying to accomplish?
Include some of image or screen grab with your story. Remember to include a photo credit. (On a Macintosh, you simply select the Command key, the Shift key, and the “4” key at the same time and they select the desired image. The image will be save to the computers desktop. On a PC, follow these instructions.)

Images from Maira Kalman’s website.

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