What is Strunk and White’s Rule 13 in ‘Elements of Style’?

The writing world harbors valuable guides for constructive and meaningful writing, one of them is the Elements of Style. Particularly, the Rule 13: Omit needless words stands out. This rule highlights the importance of clarity and conciseness in writing.

Understanding the Rule

According to the Rule 13, it is essential for a writer to be direct and straightforward. Sentences should contain no unnecessary words, paragraphs no insignificant sentences. It demands that every word should tell, similar to the need for a machine to have no unnecessary parts or a drawing to consist of no unnecessary lines.

  • Rule 13 is not about making all sentences short or treating subjects only in outline, but making every word used in writing significant and meaningful.
  • The essence of Rule 13 is to ensure that words, sentences, or details that aren’t critical to the main idea are omitted.
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Significance of The Rule

Li> Clearer Communication: Rule 13 helps in delivering rock-solid clarity of thought. By eliminating needless words, the main idea becomes more explicit leaving no room for confusion for the reader.

  • Improved Character of Writing: Omitting needless words enhances the overall quality of writing making it more appealing. It conveys respect for the reader’s time as it doesn’t demand needless reading time.
  • Elevated Efficiency: By following Rule 13, writers can express more in fewer words, demonstrating mastery in making efficient use of words.

Implementing the Rule

The implementation of Rule 13 can be achieved by regular practice. Here are some tips for implementation:

  • Remain focused on the subject you are writing about.
  • Avoid repetitive statements or facts.
  • Keep sentences short and simple.
  • Use active voice, which is usually more direct than passive.
  • Create positive statements. It is better to express a negative in a positive form.


To conclude, understanding and implementing Rule 13: Omit needless words of the Elements of Style is a game-changer in every writer’s journey. It leads to impressive writing that resonates well with the readers, making messages clear, meaningful, and profound. Its correct application can help elevate a piece of writing to a piece of art, enriched with clarity and conciseness.

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