• David de Souza

The Elements of Eloquence Summary

Updated: Sep 3



Improving your writing is one of the highest impact changes you can make in your life. We write every day: in Emails, text messages and memos. This book will help your words have a greater impact.

Want to dig deeper than the core principles? Check out:



Core Principles:


I have summarised 'Elements of Eloquence' and distilled the book into 11 core principles:


  1. Using a pronoun before a noun creates mystery and grabs your attention. For example: 'Nobody heard him, the dead man' instead of 'The dead man was not heard'.

  2. Two phrases or sentences that are parallel and structurally similar can be used to imply the two things are the same even when not. For example: "Have a break, Have a KitKat" & "The Future is Bright, The Future is Orange".

  3. Repeating words twice, ads a bit of emphasis. Three times and it's "Like a nuclear bomb, effective but a bit weird if you use it every 5 minutes" For example: 'Location, Location, Location' & "Ask me 3 main priorities of government and I will tell you: education, education, education".

  4. Start a pattern (with 2 items) and break it (with the 3rd). For example: Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

  5. Asking a rhetorical question both parties know the answer to can assert authority and belittle.

  6. A long sentence drawn out, with many commas stops you from being too emotional. You can't be too rude or enthusiastic with a long sentence.

  7. End a sentence with a word and begin the next with that same word. This gives both sentences power, strength, and the illusion of logic. It is satisfying, both beautiful and structured. It is progression. It is like a story that leads to a climax.

  8. Use two senses described in terms of another. For example: 'Colours are harmonious' & 'Her voice is silky' & 'Music that stinks'.

  9. The 14th Rule. The use of specific numbers (instead of “many”) feels mysterious and significant.

  10. Humans, don’t talk in lists but that’s what makes them so effective. They startle and bewilder. They grab your attention. We aren't used to them.

  11. Create a word sandwich to add finality, emphasis or judgment. The formula is: (Word or phrase) + (brief interruption) + (word or phrase). For example: burn, baby, burn.

Remember These Core Principles:


I've condensed the core principles into an image, making memorization easier. Use this image, it's caption, and Quizlet as a memory aid to help you remember the 80/20 from this book:

"I started to make a long list of 14 questions. I came to my senses and ate a sandwich, Kitkat and a nuclear bomb."

Q: Why does the caption start with a pronoun (I) ?

A: Using a pronoun before a noun creates mystery and grabs your attention.


Q: What does 'started' refer to?

A: Starting each sentence with the same phrase (or word) creates power and belief by the listener.


Q: What does 'long' refer to?

A: Long sentences, drawn-out, with many commas stops you from being too emotional. You can't be too rude or enthusiastic with a long sentence.


Q: What does 'list' refer to?

A: Humans, don’t talk in lists but that’s what makes them so effective. They startle and bewilder. They grab your attention.


Q: What does '14' refer to?

A: The 14th Rule. The use of specific numbers (instead of “many”) feels mysterious and significant.


Q: What does 'question' refer to?

A: Asking a rhetorical question both parties know the answer to can assert authority and belittle.


Q: What does 'senses' refer to?

A: Use two senses described in terms of another. For example: 'Music that stinks'.


Q: What does 'sandwich' refer to?

A: Create a word sandwich to add finality, emphasis or judgment. The formula is: (Word or phrase) + (brief interruption) + (word or phrase). For example: burn, baby, burn.


Q: What does 'kitkat' refer to?

A: Two phrases that are parallel and structurally similar can be used to imply the two things are the same even when not. For example: "Have a break, Have a KitKat"


Q: What does 'nuclear bomb' refer to?

A: Repeating words twice, ads a bit of emphasis. Three times and it's "Like a nuclear bomb, effective but a bit weird if you use it every 5 minutes" For example: 'Location, Location, Location'


Q: What is the significance of the 3 things being eaten?

A: A pattern is being started (with 2 items) and it is broken (with the 3rd).


Q: Why does the phrase have two sentences that start with the same word?

A: End a sentence with a word and begin the next with that same word. This gives both sentences power, strength, and the illusion of logic. It is satisfying, both beautiful and structured. It is progression.


Let me know how these summaries can be improved? Contact me via Email (david@thisdomain.co) or on Twitter.


The 80/20 of Worldly Wisdom: