Redlines

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Add punch with an extra-short sentence (or a fragment) (PDF)

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Vol. 107 No. 3 (2024) | Justitia

An occasional extra-short sentence or fragment can serve various purposes. Most obviously, it can provide variety and emphasis. It can also be useful for breaking up a long sentence, setting up a conclusion, linking to a new topic—any number of things, really.

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Minimize prepositional phrases. Question every of. (Part 2, PDF)

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Vol. 107 No. 2 (2023) | Generative AI in the Courts

In the previous column, I said that unnecessary prepositional phrases are perhaps the single biggest cause of sentence-level verbosity in legal writing […]

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Minimize prepositional phrases. Question every of. (Part 1; PDF)

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Vol. 107 No. 1 (2023) | Toward Fairer, Quicker, Cheaper Litigation

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The Case for Contractions (PDF)

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Vol. 106 No. 3 (2023) | Forging New Trails

In a very short browse on Westlaw, I found some sentences that, in my view, would be improved by contractions: […]

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Taking aim (again) at multiword prepositions (PDF)

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Vol. 106 No. 2 (2022) | Losing faith?

Since I didn’t wipe them out the first time (Summer 2018), I am reloading. Multiword prepositions—also called compound or complex or phrasal prepositions—are among the most noxious and pervasive small-scale faults in legal writing. […]

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Another kick at dates and procedural detail (PDF)

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Vol. 103 No. 1 (2019) | Navigating Rough Seas

This isn’t the first time I’ve gone after unnecessary dates and procedural detail. (See the Autumn 2017 and Summer 2018 columns.) And it probably won’t be the last.

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The Wonderfully Versatile Em-Dash (PDF)

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Vol. 106 No. 1 (2022) | Necessarily Engaged

We all know that legal writing could benefit from more periods. A strong contender for the second most neglected punctuation mark in legal writing is the em-dash, the long dash.

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The importance of signposting — and following through

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Vol. 105 No. 3 (2021) | Leaving Afghanistan

Signposting is easy to illustrate. Not this: “The defendant claims . . . . The defendant also claims . . . . Finally, the defendant claims . . . .” […]

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Another plea to hold the acronyms (PDF)

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Vol. 105 No. 2 (2021) | Judicial Independence

First, a technical distinction: an acronym is pronounced as a word (“scuba” = self-contained underwater breathing apparatus); an initialism is pronounced letter by letter (“IBM”). Informally, “acronym” is often used for […]

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Revising an Order

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Vol. 100 No. 4 (2016) | Steady As She Goes

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