Legal Writing in Plain English: A Text with Exercises

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University of Chicago Press, 2001 - Law - 227 pages
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PrefaceIntroductionPart One: Principles for All Legal WritingFraming Your Thoughts1. Have something to say--and think it through.2. For maximal efficiency, plan your writing projects. Try nonlinear outlining.3. Order your material in a logical sequence. Use chronology when presenting facts. Keep related material together.4. Divide the document into sections, and divide sections into smaller parts as needed. Use informative headings for the sections and subsections.Phrasing Your Sentences5. Omit needless words.6. Keep your average sentence length about 20 words.7. Keep the subject, the verb, and the object together--toward the beginning of the sentence.8. Prefer the active voice over the passive.9. Use parallel phrasing for parallel ideas.10. Avoid multiple negatives.11. End sentences emphatically.Choosing Your Words12. Learn to detest simplifiable jargon.13. Use strong, precise verbs. Minimize is, are, was, and were.14. Turn -ion words into verbs when you can.15. Simplify wordy phrases. Watch out for of.16. Avoid doublets and triplets.17. Refer to people and companies by name.18. Don't habitually use parenthetical shorthand names. Use them only when you really need them.19. Shun newfangled acronyms.20. Make everything you write speakable.Part Two: Principles Mainly for Analytical and Persuasive Writing21. Plan all three parts: the beginning, the middle, and the end.22. Use the deep issue to spill the beans on the first page.23. Summarize. Don't overparticularize.24. Introduce each paragraph with a topic sentence.25. Bridge between paragraphs.26. Vary the length of your paragraphs, but generally keep them short.27. Provide signposts along the way.28. Unclutter the text by movingcitations into footnotes.29. Weave quotations deftly into your narrative.30. Be forthright in dealing with counterarguments.Part Three: Principles Mainly for Legal Drafting31. Draft for an ordinary reader, not for a mythical judge who might someday review the document.32. Organize provisions in order of descending importance.33. Minimize definitions. If you have more than just a few, put them in a schedule at the end--not at the beginning.34. Break down enumerations into parallel provisions. Put every list of subparts at the end of the sentence--never at the beginning or in the middle.35. Delete every shall.36. Don't use provisos.37. Replace and/or wherever it appears.38. Prefer the singular over the plural.39. Prefer numerals, not words, to denote amounts. Avoid word-numeral doublets.40. If you don't understand a form provision--or don't understand why it should be included in your document--try diligently to gain that understanding. If you still can't understand it, cut it.Part Four: Principles for Document Design41. Use a readable typeface.42. Create ample white space--and use it meaningfully.43. Highlight ideas with attention-getters such as bullets.44. Don't use all capitals, and avoid initial capitals.45. For a long document, make a table of contents.Part Five: Methods for Continued Improvement46. Embrace constructive criticism.47. Edit yourself systematically.48. Learn how to find reliable answers to questions of grammar and usage.49. Habitually gauge your own readerly likes and dislikes, as well as those of other readers.50. Remember that good writing makes the reader's job easy; bad writing makes it hard.Appendix A: How to PunctuateAppendix B: Four Model Documents1. ResearchMemorandum2. Motion3. Appellate Brief4. ContractKey to Basic ExercisesIndex
 

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Contents

PRINCIPLES FOR ALL LEGAL WRITING
1
PRINCIPLES MAINLY FOR ANALYTICAL AND PERSUASIVE WRITING
16
PRINCIPLES MAINLY FOR LEGAL DRAFTING
23
PRINCIPLES FOR DOCUMENT DESIGN
28
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About the author (2001)

Bryan A. Garner is president of LawProse, Inc., and Distinguished Research Professor of Law at Southern Methodist University. The editor-in-chief of "Black's Law Dictionary", Garner is the author of several best-selling books, including "Garner's""Modern American Usage" and, with Justice Antonin Scalia, "Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts" and "Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges".

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