This handbook treats essential matters of grammar, diction, spelling, mechanics; and develops with thoroughness the principles of sentence structure. Larger units of composition it leaves to the texts in formal rhetoric.
The book is built on a decimal plan, the material being simplified and reduced to one hundred articles. Headings of these articles are summarized on two opposite pages by a chart. Here the student can see at a glance the resources of the volume, and the instructor can find immediately the number he wishes to write in the margin of a theme. The chart and the decimal scheme together make the rules accessible for instant reference.
By a device equally efficient, the book throws upon the student the responsibility of teaching himself. Each article begins with a concise rule, which is illustrated by examples; then follows a short "parallel exercise" which the instructor may assign by adding an x to the number he writes in the margin of a theme. While correcting this exercise, the student will give attention to the rule, and will acquire theory and practice at the same time. Moreover, every group of ten articles is followed by mixed exercises; these may be used for review, or imposed in the margin of a theme as a penalty for flagrant or repeated error. Thus friendly counsel is backed by discipline, and the instructor has the means of compelling the student to make rapid progress toward good English.
Although a handbook of this nature is in some ways arbitrary, the arbitrariness is always in the interest of simplicity. The book does have simplicity, permits instant reference, and provides an adequate drill which may be assigned at the stroke of a pen.