923: Strunk and White

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Jump to: navigation, search
Strunk and White
The best thing about Strunk/White fanfiction is that it's virtually guaranteed to be well written.
Title text: The best thing about Strunk/White fanfiction is that it's virtually guaranteed to be well written.


The 1918 writing style guide The Elements of Style, by Cornell University professor William Strunk Jr. and New Yorker writer E.B. White (perhaps better known as the author of Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little), is commonly referred to as "Strunk & White". In this comic, the current editors of Strunk & White are clarifying a matter of style pertaining to the style guide, an instance of meta humor, a recurring theme in xkcd.

Erotic fan fiction is a genre of writing in which fans make up erotic stories involving characters from non-erotic stories. "Slash fiction" is a subgenre that pairs characters of the same sex: These pairings are denoted by using the "/" to separate the paired characters, hence the name "slash fiction". This convention is generally thought to originate with the Kirk/Spock pairing in Star Trek fan fiction, wherein "K/S" was used for such romantic or erotic works of fan fiction, while "K&S" was used for non-romantic works. This comic imagines a similar distinction being necessary for "Strunk & White" vs. "Strunk/White".

The title text comments that authors of Strunk/White fan fiction will most likely have read The Elements of Style, which makes them better writers.


[Hairbun, with glasses, sits behind a desk typing on a computer. A line goes from the keyboard indicating that the text above is the one she types. Behind her stand Cueball with a book in his hand, and a man with male-pattern baldness holding up a smoking pipe.]
Dear Internet,
We, the current editors of
Strunk & White's The Elements of
Style, must—with great reluctance—
clarify a point of orthography:
"Strunk & White" should be
used for the style manual and
"Strunk/White" for the erotic
fan fiction pairing.


E.B. White is mentioned again in the later comics, 2162: Literary Opinions and 1087: Cirith Ungol.

comment.png add a comment! ⋅ comment.png add a topic (use sparingly)! ⋅ Icons-mini-action refresh blue.gif refresh comments!


EB White was also a Cornell professor. 17:49, 13 December 2012 (UTC)

Well he got his BA there. That's almost the same, right? 06:57, 21 January 2014 (UTC)

Are there any examples of Strunk/White fanfiction that predate this comic (there are plenty that postdate it!) 04:50, 20 May 2019 (UTC)