- "Mr. James Elphinston, who has since published various works, and who was ever esteemed by Johnson as a worthy man, happened to be in Scotland while the Rambler was coming out in single papers at London. With a laudable zeal at once for the improvement of his countrymen, and the reputation of his friend, he suggested and took the charge of an edition of those Essays at Edinburgh, which followed progressively the London publication."
Thirty-six of Elphinston's translations of mottoes appear in Johnson's Rambler as part of a revised, corrected edition in July 1752 (and subsequently). Johnson's affection for Elphinston is evident from a letter from early 1752 where he wrote, "I beg of You to write soon, and to write often, and to write long letters, which I hope in time to repay you, but you must be a patient Creditor."
The bios in the DNB and ODNB do not differ greatly, except that the ODNB has R. C. Dallas as Elphinston's biographer in the 1809 edition of Gentleman's Magazine no. 79, which would have been impossible if they are referring to Dr Robert Charles Dallas – the father of Alexander James Dallas – who died in 1769.
- Propriety Ascertained in Her Picture, (or English Speech and Spelling Rendered Mutual Guides, Secure Alike from Distant, and from Domestic, Error)(1786, 1787) [2 volumes]
- The Principles of the English Language Digested for the use of Schools (1766)
- Inglish Orthography Epittomized (1790)
- Miniature of English Orthography (1795)
- The Epigrams of Marcus Valerius Martialis in twelve books: with commentary and translation into English by James Elphinston (1782)
- Johnson, Samuel (1992). The Letters of Samuel Johnson, Volume I: 1731-1772. Princeton University Press. p. 58 – via Google Books.
- Joan C. Beal, ‘Elphinston, James (1721–1809)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 21 Sept 2011