by the book


1. do something in strict accordance with the rules or regulations






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do things by the book

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The expression 'by the book' means to strictly follow a set of rules, laws, guidelines, or regulations. Some of these may be written in an actual book, but this term is used figuratively and also extends to following societal norms and conventional methods of doing things. When you do things 'by the book,' you follow one accepted method. It comes with less risk than 'thinking outside the box,' but can often be less rewarding in a professional context. In a social context, this expression is often used in relation to avoiding trouble with the law. Phrases that share a similar meaning include 'to the letter,' 'fair and square,' and 'follow protocol.'

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  1. Claire has always been a 'by the book' type of person because she is scared of getting into trouble.
  2. I never put furniture together before so I went by the book to ensure I didn't make a mistake.

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  1. New employees are encouraged to do things by the book, at least until they gain more experience.
  2. Peter struggled to be creative and come up with good ideas in meetings because he always went by the book and never tried to think outside the box.

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