Friday, November 01, 2019

Clear, concise, and effective English for law students, bar examinees, and legal writers in organizations, private companies, and government offices (29): Punctuation resources and infographics

1. Resources by by Judge Gerald Lebovits (an adjunct professor at New York Law School and two other law schools):

Do’s, Don’ts, and Maybes: Legal Writing Punctuation — Part I

This three-part series addresses periods, question marks, exclamation points, colons, semicolons, parentheses, brackets, commas, hyphens, quotation marks, apostrophes, dashes, slashes, ellipses, and accent marks.

Punctuation refers to symbols that organize and give structure to writing. Punctuation lets you change the inflection of your voice and give meaning to
your words.

Punctuation helps speed up or slow down language.

Punctuation lets writers emphasize some words and de-emphasize others.

Good punctuation makes you feel, hear, and understand language. Bad punctuation is confusing and off-putting.

Do’s, Don’ts, and Maybes: Legal Writing Punctuation — Part II

Do’s, Don’ts, and Maybes: Legal Writing Punctuation — Part III

2. Infographics (click the graphic to view or download the full infographics)

The Ultimate Flowchart To Using Apostrophes



How To Use Quotation Marks and Punctuation




Free seminars:

1. “English Proficiency Course” (4 hours; for college students, K-to-12 teachers, other groups)

2. “Clear, concise English for effective legal writing” (3-5 hours; for Student Councils, academic organizations, fraternities, sororities, NGOs, LGUs, any interested group; test yourself with the interactive exercises)

Seminars are for Metro Manila only. For more information or to schedule a seminar, please contact Atty. Gerry T. Galacio at 0927-798-3138.

Be a better writer or editor through StyleWriter 4: this software checks 10,000 words in 12 seconds for hundreds of style and English usage issues like wordy and complex sentences, passive voice, nominalization, jargon, clichés, readability, spelling, etc.

StyleWriter 4 graphs your style and sentence variety, and identifies your writing habits to give an instant view of your writing. You can learn to adjust your writing style to suit your audience and task. You can learn, for example, the writing style of Newsweek, Time, The Economist, and Scientific American.

StyleWriter 4 is widely used in the US federal government (for example, the Environmental Protection Agency). It can be used by educators, students, and professionals in various fields - business, law, social or physical science, medicine, nursing, engineering, public relations, human resources, journalism, accounting, etc. Download your free 14-day trial copy now.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Clear, concise, and effective English for law students, bar examinees, and legal writers in organizations, private companies, and government offices (28): Grammar resources and infographics

1. Resources by by Judge Gerald Lebovits (an adjunct professor at New York Law School and two other law schools):

Do’s, Don’ts, and Maybes: Legal Writing Grammar — Part I

Good grammar is a good start, although good legal writing demands much more. Knowing grammar won’t make you a good legal writer. But you’re a poor legal writer if you don’t know grammar.

Topics discussed: Singular and plural nouns; Pronouns; Fused Participles; Verb Tenses and Moods; Irregular Verbs; Gerunds; Agreement; Parallelism; Sentence Fragment; And and To

Do’s, Don’ts, and Maybes: Legal Writing Grammar — Part II

Topics discussed: Run-on Sentence; Articles; Adverbs; Problem Words and Pairs; Who and Whom; The Sentence Extra; That versus Which; Comparisons; The Right Idiom

If I Were a Lawyer: Tense in Legal Writing

State current rules in the present tense.

State past rules and past facts in the past tense.

State permanent, immutable truths (truths that never change) in dependent clauses in the present tense.

State permanent, immutable truths in independent clauses in the past tense.

2. Infographics from GrammarCheck (click the graphic to view or download the full infographic)

Oh My Grammar! Language Felonies



11 Essential Grammar Rules



18 Verbs Even Native Speakers Often Confuse




Free seminars:

1. “English Proficiency Course” (4 hours; for college students, K-to-12 teachers, other groups)

2. “Clear, concise English for effective legal writing” (3-5 hours; for Student Councils, academic organizations, fraternities, sororities, NGOs, LGUs, any interested group; test yourself with the interactive exercises)

Seminars are for Metro Manila only. For more information or to schedule a seminar, please contact Atty. Gerry T. Galacio at 0927-798-3138.

Be a better writer or editor through StyleWriter 4: this software checks 10,000 words in 12 seconds for hundreds of style and English usage issues like wordy and complex sentences, passive voice, nominalization, jargon, clichés, readability, spelling, etc.

StyleWriter 4 graphs your style and sentence variety, and identifies your writing habits to give an instant view of your writing. You can learn to adjust your writing style to suit your audience and task. You can learn, for example, the writing style of Newsweek, Time, The Economist, and Scientific American.

StyleWriter 4 is widely used in the US federal government (for example, the Environmental Protection Agency). It can be used by educators, students, and professionals in various fields - business, law, social or physical science, medicine, nursing, engineering, public relations, human resources, journalism, accounting, etc. Download your free 14-day trial copy now.

Friday, October 04, 2019

Clear, concise, and effective English for law students, bar examinees, and legal writers in organizations, private companies, and government offices (27): Commonly misunderstood, misused, or confused words (resources and infographics)

1. Resources by by Judge Gerald Lebovits (an adjunct professor at New York Law School and two other law schools):

Problem Words and Pairs in Legal Writing — Part I

Problem Words and Pairs in Legal Writing—Part II

Problem Words and Pairs in Legal Writing—Part III

Problem Words and Pairs in Legal Writing—Part IV

In Part II, Judge Lebovits says in tongue-in-cheek fashion:

As Lord Chief Justice Mansfield wrote, “Most of the disputes in the world arise from words.” Therefore, utilize words good. Irregardless how others employ words, you are suppose to use them like a writer should. Be especially careful to use adverbs correct. Otherwise your writing will look horribly.

2. Infographics (click the graphic to view or download the full infographic)

33 Commonly Misunderstood Words and Phrases



12 Common Words That Still Confuse Everyone



Affect vs. Effect and 34 Other Common Confusions



12 Most Misunderstood Words in English



The Write Way: 8 Commonly Misused Words




Free seminars:

1. “English Proficiency Course” (4 hours; for college students, K-to-12 teachers, other groups)

2. “Clear, concise English for effective legal writing” (3-5 hours; for Student Councils, academic organizations, fraternities, sororities, NGOs, LGUs, any interested group; test yourself with the interactive exercises)

Seminars are for Metro Manila only. For more information or to schedule a seminar, please contact Atty. Gerry T. Galacio at 0927-798-3138.

Be a better writer or editor through StyleWriter 4: this software checks 10,000 words in 12 seconds for hundreds of style and English usage issues like wordy and complex sentences, passive voice, nominalization, jargon, clichés, readability, spelling, etc.

StyleWriter 4 graphs your style and sentence variety, and identifies your writing habits to give an instant view of your writing. You can learn to adjust your writing style to suit your audience and task. You can learn, for example, the writing style of Newsweek, Time, The Economist, and Scientific American.

StyleWriter 4 is widely used in the US federal government (for example, the Environmental Protection Agency). It can be used by educators, students, and professionals in various fields - business, law, social or physical science, medicine, nursing, engineering, public relations, human resources, journalism, accounting, etc. Download your free 14-day trial copy now.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

1.55 million unique visits and 4.98 million page views: Thanks for browsing this blog!

I started this blog on October 30, 2005 as part of my Family Matters website. My website tracker Statcounter.com reports that, as of today, this blog has now been visited more than 1,550,220 times. Blogger.com, meanwhile, reports that this blog has now reached more than 4,979,476 page views.

Statcounter, which I started using sometime in 2014 in addition to Blogger, sometimes uses the term “sessions” instead of “unique visits.” Another tracker that I used before, Sitemeter.com, reported that the average time spent per visit was over three minutes.

Note: Click the graphics below to view much-bigger copies;
I don't have new monthly or yearly reports anymore because
my free Statcounter account limits my logs to only 3 days.
Average daily page views from 2014 to 2018
Average yearly page views from 2014 to 2018
Average daily page views for 2017
Average daily page views last 12 months
For 2016, Statcounter reported a daily average of 916 page views, 510 first-time visits, and 101 return visits. As of today, however, Statcounter reports the following daily average: 170.8 page views, 104.8 first time visits, and 14.0 return visits.

The steep drop in the averages from the 2016 stats can primarily be attributed to Google's implementation of the “Fred” algorithm for its search results. If you want to help more people find this blog and its articles when they search Google, please place links to this blog from your websites, blogs, or social media accounts.

Also contributing to the steep drop in the daily averages is the unscrupulous practice known as “scraping” that some bloggers and website administrators use. These bloggers and admins copy, without my permission, the full text of my articles and post them into their blogs and websites, oftentimes without crediting me as the author or providing clickable backlinks. The result is that Google no longer indexes my articles in its search page results; it points searchers to the blogs or websites that copied my articles.

Top 10 countries with most page views (Blogger)
Google Analytics reported years ago that this blog
had been visited from more than 81 countries.
The service I provide in this blog and in my Family Matters website is free legal information and Biblical counseling. (“Free” however does not mean that bloggers or website admins are free to copy my articles without permission and to publish them in their blogs or website without giving me credit as the author and providing clickable backlinks.

If you’re a blogger or website admin, you must get my permission first before publishing my articles in your blogs or websites.) As I told one person who e-mailed me, what is legal is not always Biblical, and what is Biblical is not always legal. In my website and blogs, however, what is Biblical will always take precedence.

Blogger and Statcounter work in different ways and thus report different statistics. With regards the average time of 3 minutes per visit, Jakob Nielsen says that 2 minutes is an eternity on the Internet. (Nielsen is the acknowledged guru of writing for the Internet.) Nielsen also says that the number of return visits is a better indicator of website or blog’s effectiveness, rather than the number of first-time (or absolute unique) visits.

Do not depend on “legal information” found in chat rooms or online forums

Despite this milestone for this blog, three things sadden me:


One, I have stumbled upon chat rooms or online forums for OFWs, single parents, etc. and I am amazed at the tremendous amount of misinformation about legal matters I found in these forums. The problem is that people in these chat rooms, rather than inquiring from lawyers, rely on each other and on people who pretend to know the law. It does not matter whether a person has gone to law school or does good research on legal topics. Answering people’s questions about legal matters is considered as “practice of law” (as the Supreme Court ruled in the case involving the late Sen. Rene Cayetano and former COMELEC chairman Christian Monsod). The practice of law is reserved only for those who have passed the bar exams and are in good standing with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.

text copied from this blog and then posted in a chat room without attributionSome people in chat rooms and online forums also copy and paste from my blog posts without giving any credit. For example, portions of my post “Can nephews and nieces inherit from their grandparents, unmarried aunts or uncles?” were posted verbatim without any attribution. (Click the image to the left so you can compare my blog post and what was posted in the forum.)

If you do have legal questions, you should inquire from lawyers directly or from government offices. I have listed in a tab below this blogs title graphic the contact information of government offices where you can get free legal assistance. For example, you can ask for free legal help from the Department of Justice Action Center (DOJAC). It acts on complaints, requests for assistance and legal queries of walk-in clients of the DOJ. For legal assistance please visit the Department of Justice Action Center (DOJAC) Main Office, Ground Floor, Multi-Purpose Building, Padre Faura Street, Ermita, Manila; Telephone no: 523-84-81; Email Address: dojac@doj.gov.ph or visit any Regional/Provincial/City Prosecution Offices in your town or city.

You can also try asking for free legal help or information from the following:
  1. Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) chapter offices in your town or city, usually located in the Hall of Justice
  2. OLA (Office of Legal Aid) of the UP College of Law; Room 107, Malcolm Hall, University of the Philippines Diliman, Quezon City, 1101; UP College of Law Trunkline Phone No. (02) 920-5514, Office of Legal Aid - loc. 106; Office Hours: 8:00 am - 12:00 pm; 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm
  3. Legal Aid Bureau of the San Beda College of Law in Mendiola, Manila; tel. no. (02) 489-1670
  4. CJ Roberto Concepcion Legal Aid Clinic of the UST Institute of Civil Law, Espana, Manila; +63(02) 731-4027 or +63(02) 406-1611 (Local 8225)
  5. Sebastinian Office of Legal Aid, San Sebastian College Institute of Law; Trunk Line: (02)734-8931 to 39, Locals: 313 and 173
  6. Commission on Human Rights chapter offices
Two, the most visited page of this blog is that on adultery, concubinage, and psychological violence, with more than 363,000 visits. The other pages with a high number of visits are those dealing with support for an abandoned woman and her children (more than 164,000 visits), annulment or declaration of nullity of marriage, entertainer Amy Perez’s failed petition to have her marriage to Brix Ferraris declared void, and custody battles over children.

Three, there are more people who visit this blog rather than my Salt and Light blog on how to build strong relationships, marriages, and families. Compared to this blog, my SL blog is limping along with only 56,000-plus visitors since December 2005. It seems that there are more people who want to know about how to end their marriage than people concerned about building stronger marriages.

Salt and Light blog title graphicsI remember Valentine’s Day twelve years ago. I received an e-mail from a woman, competent and highly successful in her profession. The problem was, her professional success had led to the breakdown of her marriage because her husband had become totally insecure. The question she desperately asked me was, “Is there hope for my marriage?” I spent the whole afternoon of that Valentine’s Day answering the e-mail, assuring her that yes, there was still hope for her marriage.

My hope is that more people will browse my Salt and Light blog and learn how to reclaim their marriage and rebuild their family. Some of my favorite articles are Lessons in love and life from Miriam Quiambao, Emotional word pictures as a communication tool for increasing intimacy between husbands and wives, and Men are terrible mind readers ...

I also hope that that those of you going through various marital difficulties will try to get hold and watch Kirk Cameron’s movie on relationships; you can watch the YouTube trailer above and read more in the FIREPROOF blog.

About FIREPROOF, the movie
At work, inside burning buildings, Capt. Caleb Holt lives by the old firefighter’s adage: Never leave your partner behind. At home, in the cooling embers of his marriage, he lives by his own rules. Growing up, Catherine Holt always dreamed of marrying a loving, brave firefighter...just like her daddy. Now, after seven years of marriage, Catherine wonders when she stopped being "good enough" for her husband. Regular arguments over jobs, finances, housework, and outside interests have readied them both to move on to something with more sparks. As the couple prepares to enter divorce proceedings, Caleb's father challenges his son to commit to a 40-day experiment: "The Love Dare." Wondering if it's even worth the effort, Caleb agrees-for his father's sake more than for his marriage. When Caleb discovers the book's daily challenges are tied into his parents' newfound faith, his already limited interest is further dampened. While trying to stay true to his promise, Caleb becomes frustrated time and again. He finally asks his father, "How am I supposed to show love to somebody who constantly rejects me?" When his father explains that this is the love Christ shows to us, Caleb makes a life-changing commitment to love God. And so with God's help he begins to understand what it means to truly love his wife. But is it too late to fireproof his marriage? His job is to rescue others. Now Caleb Holt is ready to face his toughest job ever...rescuing his wife’s heart.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Clear, concise, and effective English for law students, bar examinees, and legal writers in organizations, private companies, and government offices (26): Oxford comma (serial comma) cases, resources, and infographics

Sentence without Oxford comma:

I’d like to thank my parents, Ayn Rand and God.
Sentence with Oxford comma:


I’d like to thank my parents, Ayn Rand, and God.

1. From Wikipedia: “In English language punctuation, a serial comma or series comma (also called an Oxford comma or a Harvard comma) is a comma placed immediately before the coordinating conjunction (usually and or or) in a series of three or more terms. For example, a list of three countries might be punctuated either as ‘France, Italy, and Spain’ (with the serial comma), or as ‘France, Italy and Spain’ (without the serial comma).”

“A majority of American style guides mandate use of the serial comma, including APA style, The Chicago Manual of Style, The MLA Style Manual, Strunk and White’s Elements of Style, and the U.S. Government Printing Office Style Manual.”

2. The Oxford comma is perhaps the most contentious issue in English grammar. Bur for legal writing, this issue has long been settled by numerous experts such as Bryan Garner, Joseph Kimble, Mark Painter, and Richard Wydick; they all recommend using the Oxford comma to avoid ambiguity or confusion. For example, based on Garner’s guidelines for drafting court rules, the Oxford comma was used in the Plain English restyling of all the US Federal Rules of Court.

3. Cases involving the Oxford comma:

(a) “Peterson vs. Midwest Security Insurance Company,” Supreme Court of Wisconsin, 2001: the lack of a serial comma created an ambiguity in Wisconsin’s recreational immunity statute.

(b) “O’Connor versus Oakhurst Dairy” US Court of Appeals, First Circuit, 2017

For want of a comma, we have this case. It arises from a dispute between a Maine dairy company and its delivery drivers, and it concerns the scope of an exemption from Maine's overtime law.
Specifically, if that exemption used a serial comma to mark off the last of the activities that it lists, then the exemption would clearly encompass an activity that the drivers perform. And, in that event, the drivers would plainly fall within the exemption and thus outside the overtime law's protection. But, as it happens, there is no serial comma to be found in the exemption's list of activities, thus leading to this dispute over whether the drivers fall within the exemption from the overtime law or not.

4. The “Ombudsman Stylebook” recommends the nuanced use of the serial comma. Posted below is the Stylebook’s complete guideline:
Note: Click the graphic above to view
or download the Ombudman Stylebook.
3.2.3. Use commas to separate items in a series (three or more items).

Such commas are called serial commas. If the last two items in the series are obviously different from each other, do not insert a comma.

Examples:

a. The signatories to the contract represented the governments of Greece, Spain and Italy.

b. The terms of the sale were reviewed by the executive director, the chief accountant and the cashier.

c. The virus spread in the U.S., Asia and Europe

Sometimes inserting a comma between the last two items in a series is necessary to improve comprehension. Such comma distinguishes these two items from the others in a complex list.

Examples:

a. The directive required the department to revise the curriculum, review the textbooks given to the students at the beginning and end the teachers‘ strike. [Note: Without a comma before and, the reader might mistake end for a noun instead of a verb.]

b. The Center for Culinary Arts offers several courses: Bartending, Kitchen Safety, Food Equipment, Environmental Impact, Baking and Cooking. [Note: Without a comma before and, it is not clear if Baking and Cooking is one course, or if Baking is a different course from Cooking.].

Critique of the guideline:

It’s better to follow Garner’s guideline of using the Oxford comma consistently. The Stylebook’s guideline assumes that the reader is able to know the reason why the serial comma was used in one sentence but not in another sentence. But legal writers are responsible for thinking through what they want to say and to make everything clear for their readers.

5. Infographics on the Oxford comma:

Note: Click the graphic above to view or download the full infographic.

Note: Click the graphic above to view or download the full infographic.


Free seminars:

1. “English Proficiency Course” (4 hours; for college students, K-to-12 teachers, other groups)

2. “Clear, concise English for effective legal writing” (3-5 hours; for Student Councils, academic organizations, fraternities, sororities, NGOs, LGUs, any interested group; test yourself with the interactive exercises)

Seminars are for Metro Manila only. For more information or to schedule a seminar, please contact Atty. Gerry T. Galacio at 0927-798-3138.

Be a better writer or editor through StyleWriter 4: this software checks 10,000 words in 12 seconds for hundreds of style and English usage issues like wordy and complex sentences, passive voice, nominalization, jargon, clichés, readability, spelling, etc.

StyleWriter 4 graphs your style and sentence variety, and identifies your writing habits to give an instant view of your writing. You can learn to adjust your writing style to suit your audience and task. You can learn, for example, the writing style of Newsweek, Time, The Economist, and Scientific American.

StyleWriter 4 is widely used in the US federal government (for example, the Environmental Protection Agency). It can be used by educators, students, and professionals in various fields - business, law, social or physical science, medicine, nursing, engineering, public relations, human resources, journalism, accounting, etc. Download your free 14-day trial copy now.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Clear, concise, and effective English for law students, bar examinees, and legal writers in organizations, private companies, and government offices (25): Million-dollar comma case; resources and infographics on commas

1. The “million-dollar comma case” was a 2006 dispute between Rogers Communication (a cable company) and Bell Aliant (a telephone company). It involved the use of more than 90,000 utility poles scattered across Canada’s easternmost provinces; value of the contract was around 900,000 Canadian dollars.

Issues:

How long is the duration of the contract? Can Bell Aliant cancel its contract with Rogers at any time, even before end of the term?

Background facts:

Date of execution of the contract between Rogers Communication and Bell Aliant was May 31, 2002.

The issues revolved around the interpretation of the following clause:

“This agreement shall be effective from the date it is made and shall continue in force for a period of five (5) years from the date it is made, and thereafter for successive five (5) year terms, unless and until terminated by one year prior notice in writing by either party.”

The problem begins:

New Brunswick Power Distribution and Customer Service Corporation (NB Power) actually owned the poles, not Bell Aliant. In 2004, NB Power terminated its contract with Bell Aliant.

In October 2004, NB Power began invoicing Rogers Communication for the use of its poles at a rate of $18.91 per pole per year.

On January 31, 2005: Bell Aliant provided Rogers Communication notice of termination of the 2002 agreement, effective February 1, 2006.

Rogers Communication filed a suit with the Canadian Radio-Television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), saying that Bell Aliant could not terminate its contract without cause before May 31, 2007.

Opposing interpretations by the contracting parties:

Rogers Communication: Contract was good for at least five years, from May 31, 2002 to May 31, 2007. The contract will automatically renew for another five years, unless either party cancels the contract before the start of the final 12 months.

Bell Aliant: Contract can be terminated even before May 31, 2007, as long as one year’s notice is given. Reason: The second comma in the disputed clause located between the words “terms” and “unless”:

“This agreement shall be effective from the date it is made and shall continue in force for a period of five (5) years from the date it is made, and thereafter for successive five (5) year terms, unless and until terminated by one year prior notice in writing by either party.”

Who won the case?

First ruling of the CRTC:

Citing the “rules of punctuation,” CRTC ruled in favor of Bell Aliant. The placement of the second comma allowed Bell Aliant to end its five-year agreement with Rogers at any time with notice.

Final ruling of the CRTC:

CRTC ruled in favor of Rogers Communication, citing that the French version of the contract provided clear evidence that the parties intended to restrict termination without cause to the end of the term.

2. Kenneth Adams, a lawyer specializing in drafting of contracts and lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, was a consultant for Rogers Communication. He offered his rewrite of the disputed clause:

“The initial term of this agreement ends at midnight at the beginning of the fifth anniversary of the date of this agreement. The term of this agreement (consisting of the initial term and any extensions in accordance with this section) will automatically be extended by consecutive five-year terms unless no later than one year before the beginning of any such extension either party notifies the other in writing that it does not wish to extend this agreement.”

Prof. Adams explains why legal contracts are convoluted and oftentimes unintelligible: “Because any given transaction will closely resemble many previous transactions, and because lawyers tend to be risk-averse and wary of change, as things stand contract drafting is essentially an exercise in regurgitation. Add to that the specialized nature of contract language—it’s akin to a cross between regular writing and computer code—and it’s not surprising that business contracts are riddled with redundancies, archaisms, misconceptions, and other drafting glitches.”

A Financial Times article quotes Prof. Adams as saying: “The dirty little secret of the Anglo-American drafting style that dominates global transactions is that nobody drafts contracts from scratch.”

3. PDF resources on commas by Judge Gerald Lebovits: “The Pause That Refreshes: Commas” and “The Pause That Refreshes: Commas—Part 2”

“Commas, like all punctuation, have many uses, including writing persuasively. Punctuation can speed readers up or slow them down. Em dashes (“—”) grab readers, semicolons pause, periods arrest. Recast sentences to add or excise commas if you want your reader to get through your material slowly or quickly.”

4. Infographic from GrammarCheck: “Top 6 Commmon Comma Problems”

Click the graphic above to view or download the full infographic

5. 2019 Canadian case involving commas: “An attempted class action suit against Bell Canada failed after plaintiffs lost a debate over commas and rounded numbers”

“The Ontario Superior Court of Justice was asked last month to consider how Bell Canada calculates its yearly cost of living increase for pensioners. The plaintiffs alleged that Bell did its math wrong, and the increase for 2017 should have been two per cent. Bell said it did the calculation correctly and the increase should be one per cent. It all came down to a question of math — and grammar.”

“This, of course, may seem an odd, or perhaps an excessively minute detail to be determinative of a case that impacts on some 35,000 pensioners of the Bell Canada corporate family.”

The controversy lies with the interpretation of the following sentence:

‘Pension Index’ means the annual percentage increase of the Consumer Price Index, as determined by Statistics Canada, during the period of November 1 to October 31 immediately preceding the date of the pension increase.

The judge based his ruling on the placement of the comma: “Since there is a comma preceding the modifier, the opposite of the last antecedent rule — often dubbed the ‘series qualifying rule’ — is applied. ”

Contracts guru Kenneth Adams criticizes the Canadian court’s ruling in “More Comma Confusion: The Opinion of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Austin v. Bell Canada.”

6. The power of a comma from “Should Lawyers Punctuate” by Richard C. Wydick (The Scribes Journal of Legal Writing, Vol 1, 1990):

Fifth Amendment, US Constitution

“[No person shall] be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law . . .”

The comma after “property” tell us that the phrase “due process of law” modifies the verb “be deprived”.

Without the comma after “property,” it would permit a lawyer to argue (in defiance of the provision’s long history) that “without due process” modifies only “property.” Thus, the fifth amendment would forbid deprivation of property without due process and would absolutely forbid both incarceration and the death penalty.

Comparing the 1987 Philippine Constitution and the US Constitution

The Bill of Rights of the 1987 Constitution was patterned after that of the US Constitution. Notice, however, that there's no comma after “property” in Section 1 of Article III.  

Fifth Amendment, US Constitution

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
1987 Constitution, Article III, Bill of Rights

Section 1. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws.

Note: “Wydick served as Acting Dean of the [UC Davis] Law School in 1978-80 and received the Distinguished Teaching Award in 1983. He has authored books on ethics, evidence, and good writing, including the esteemed legal writing guide, ‘Plain English for Lawyers.’

“Wydick has received honors including the Golden Pen Award from the Legal Writing Institute and a lifetime achievement award from Scribes, the American Society of Legal Writers, in recognition of his contributions to legal writing.”

Free seminars:

1. “English Proficiency Course” (4 hours; for college students, K-to-12 teachers, other groups)

2. “Clear, concise English for effective legal writing” (3-5 hours; for Student Councils, academic organizations, fraternities, sororities, NGOs, LGUs, any interested group; test yourself with the interactive exercises)

Seminars are for Metro Manila only. For more information or to schedule a seminar, please contact Atty. Gerry T. Galacio at 0927-798-3138.

Be a better writer or editor through StyleWriter 4: this software checks 10,000 words in 12 seconds for hundreds of style and English usage issues like wordy and complex sentences, passive voice, nominalization, jargon, clichés, readability, spelling, etc.

StyleWriter 4 graphs your style and sentence variety, and identifies your writing habits to give an instant view of your writing. You can learn to adjust your writing style to suit your audience and task. You can learn, for example, the writing style of Newsweek, Time, The Economist, and Scientific American.

StyleWriter 4 is widely used in the US federal government (for example, the Environmental Protection Agency). It can be used by educators, students, and professionals in various fields - business, law, social or physical science, medicine, nursing, engineering, public relations, human resources, journalism, accounting, etc. Download your free 14-day trial copy now.

Friday, September 06, 2019

Clear, concise, and effective English for law students, bar examinees, and legal writers in organizations, private companies, and government offices (24): 20 Writing Mistakes Even Native Speakers Make (Infographic)

20 Writing Mistakes Even Native Speakers Make (infographic) from GrammarCheck

Click the graphic above to view or download
the full infographic (2.48 MB, 900 by 7650 px)

Interactive exercises with time limit and automatic scoring:

Interactive exercises in grammar (than - then)

Interactive exercises in grammar (its - it’s)

Interactive exercises in grammar (their -they’re)

Interactive exercises in grammar (who’s – whose; your - you’re)

Relevant resource: “The Infographic Guide to Grammar: A Visual Reference to Everything You Need to Know”

Mastering grammar is now easier than ever with this fully illustrated guide that covers the most important rules in grammar and punctuation — making even the most confusing rules easy to understand.

This illustrated guide to English grammar gives you everything you need for a better understanding of how to write and punctuate correctly. From proper comma usage to the correct form of there, their, or they’re — understanding grammar has never been easier.

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Free seminars:

1. “English Proficiency Course” (4 hours; for college students, K-to-12 teachers, other groups)

2. “Clear, concise English for effective legal writing” (3-5 hours; for Student Councils, academic organizations, fraternities, sororities, NGOs, LGUs, any interested group; test yourself with the interactive exercises)

Seminars are for Metro Manila only. For more information or to schedule a seminar, please contact Atty. Gerry T. Galacio at 0927-798-3138.

Be a better writer or editor through StyleWriter 4: this software checks 10,000 words in 12 seconds for hundreds of style and English usage issues like wordy and complex sentences, passive voice, nominalization, jargon, clichés, readability, spelling, etc.

StyleWriter 4 graphs your style and sentence variety, and identifies your writing habits to give an instant view of your writing. You can learn to adjust your writing style to suit your audience and task. You can learn, for example, the writing style of Newsweek, Time, The Economist, and Scientific American.

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Thursday, August 29, 2019

Clear, concise, and effective English for law students, bar examinees, and legal writers in organizations, private companies, and government offices (23): Typography and visual design for pleadings, motions, court and other legal documents

Jump to: Efficient Use of Paper Rule A.M. No. 11-9-4-SC; Save forests, use Plain English; Proposed Rules on E-Filing A. M. 10-3-7-SC; Typography in briefs and other papers, from US 7th Circuit Court of Appeals; US SEC design guidelines; How to create a PDF
1. “Typography for Lawyers, Essential Tools for Polished and Persuasive Documents” by Matthew Butterick (California-based lawyer; graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University in visual and environmental studies; designed fonts for Apple and Microsoft; awarded the Legal Writing Institute’s 2012 Golden Pen Award)
Good typography is part of good lawyering.

Good typography reinforces the goals of the text.

Any lawyer can master the essentials of good typography.

Typography in legal documents should be held to the same standards as any professionally published material.

Some of Butterick’s recommendations for typography in legal documents:
  • Point size should be 10-12 points in printed documents, 15-25 pixels on the web.
  • Never use Times New Roman and Arial.
  • Line spacing should be 120-145% of the point size. In word processors, use the “Exact” line-spacing option to achieve this. The default single-line option is too tight; the 1½-line option is too loose.
  • The average line length should be 45-90 characters (including spaces).
Butterick’s view on point size for pleadings, motions, and court documents:
While courts often require text to be set at 12 point—and sometimes larger—it’s not the most comfortable size for reading. If you compare a court filing with the average book, newspaper, or magazine, you’ll notice that the text in the filing is larger.

When you’re not bound by court rules, don’t treat 12 point as the minimum. Try sizes down to 10 point, including intermediate sizes like 10.5 and 11.5 point—half-point differences are meaningful at these sizes.
Be a better legal writer
or editor through StyleWriter 4
: this software checks 10,000 words in 12 seconds for hundreds of style and English usage issues like wordy and complex sentences, passive voice, nominalization, jargon, clichés, readability, spelling, etc.

StyleWriter 4 graphs your style and sentence variety, and identifies your writing habits to give an instant view of your writing. You can learn to adjust your writing style to suit your audience and task. You can learn, for example, the writing style of Newsweek, Time, The Economist, and Scientific American.

StyleWriter 4 is widely used in the US federal government (for example, the Environmental Protection Agency). It can be used by educators, students, and professionals in various fields - business, law, social or physical science, medicine, nursing, engineering, public relations, human resources, journalism, accounting, etc. Download your free 14-day trial copy now.
2. “Best Dressed Briefs - Why Appearance Matters by Susan Hanley Duncan, University of Louisville Louis D. Brandeis School of Law
US Supreme Court’s clerk accepts only documents using fonts in the Century family and refuses to accept filings of any brief printed in Times New Roman.
3. “Pay Attention to the Aesthetics of Your Pages by Bryan A. Garner (Michigan Bar Journal, March 2010)
Yet the legal profession is still largely unaware of how important page layout can be. On the whole, we're still stuck in the ugly typewriting mode: we still tend to rely on all-caps text and underlining as means of emphasis. Professional typographers I've spoken with are bewildered by our naiveté about the importance of not just what words appear on the page, but how they appear.
4. “Requirements and Suggestions for Typography in Briefs and Other Papers” from US 7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Use typefaces that were designed for books. Both the Supreme Court and the Solicitor General use Century.
Any face with the word “book” in its name is likely to be good for legal work. Baskerville, Bembo, Caslon, Deepdene, Galliard, Jenson, Minion, Palatino, Pontifex, Stone Serif, Trump Medieval, and Utopia are among other faces designed for use in books and thus suitable for brief-length presentations.
Use italics, not underlining, for case names and emphasis.
Use real typographic quotes (“and”) and real apostrophes (’), not foot and inch marks. Reserve straight ticks for feet, inches, and minutes of arc.
Put only one space after punctuation. The typewriter convention of two spaces is for monospaced type only.
Do not justify your text unless you hyphenate it too. Indent the first line of each paragraph 1/4 inch or less. Big indents disrupt the flow of text.
Cut down on long footnotes and long block quotes.
Avoid bold type. It is hard to read and almost never necessary. Use italics instead.
Avoid setting text in all caps.
Another way to improve the attractiveness and readability of your brief or motion is to emulate high-quality legal typography. The opinions of the Supreme Court, and the briefs of the Solicitor General, are excellent models of type usage.
5. US Securities and Exchange Commission “Plain English Handbook” design guidelines
A plain English document reflects thoughtful design choices. The right design choices make a document easier to read and its information easier to understand. The wrong design choices can make even a well-written document fail to communicate.
Typography (do not use all caps; use serif typefaces; mixing two serif or two sans serif typefaces can look like a mistake; do not use more than two typefaces in any document, not including the bold or italic versions of a typeface.)
Layout (flush left, ragged right; short line length; short paragraphs; vertical lists; white space)
Before and After example from SEC handbook (click the graphic to see the enlarged view)

6. “Document Design: Pretty in Print- Part I” by Judge Gerald Lebovits (faculty member of Columbia University - Law School, Fordham University School of Law, and New York University School of Law)
Document design, or typography, refers to the visual component of a word: typeface, type size, white space, margins, alignment, horizontal and vertical spacing, headings, footnotes, endnotes, superscript, straight and curly quotes, boldface, italics, and underlining.
Without effective, legible typography, the reader won't appreciate a document's content. When you have a choice, make the document accessible, comprehensible, persuasive, and professional.
7. “Painting with Print: Incorporating Concepts of Typographic and Layout Design into the Text of Legal Writing Documents” by Ruth Anne Robbins, Associate Professor of Law, Rutgers School of Law, Camden.
Persuasion includes looking good on paper — literally. Persuasion is the backbone of a lawyer’s job. Attorneys who are able to appeal to their audience will establish a measure of credibility, ethos, that will enhance the overall effectiveness of the argument. Lawyers are taught to use every part of a document as an opportunity to persuade. Textual design of the document should be approached with the same attitude, i.e., how can it help the lawyer persuade an audience?
Prof. Robbins on point size and court rules:
There is no definitive scientific answer, however, to whether court rules should require 12-point or 14-point font, given a page that is 8.5 inches by 11 inches. The studies unfortunately did not test the relative legibility of font sizes using lines of text closer to what normally appears on the standard paper size used for most legal documents. There is some discussion that larger font sizes such as 14-point Roman cause longer fixation pauses, which in turn slows reading. Dr. Tinker took care to caution that there was no easy way to draw a final conclusion as to optimal type size because other factors contribute to the equation, such as line length and line spacing. Nevertheless, experts in the field recommend reserving 14-point and larger sizes for headings as opposed to blocks of text. (page 122)
On line length:
The optimal line length depends on the size of the type. Unfortunately, the standard 6.5 inches of 12-point type in common use, that is, one-inch margins on the left and right sides of an 8.5-inch-wide page, decreases legibility by more than 3%. Based on those studies, more modern publications claim that the ideal line length for 12-point type should range from 2.75 to 4 inches. Modern examples of text using narrow columns for printing include newspapers and online legal research documents from Lexis/Nexis or Westlaw. (pages 122-123)
Prof. Robbins includes in her study the typographic requirements of various US courts.
“Efficient Use of Paper Rule” A.M. No. 11-9-4-SC

The Supreme Court’s “Efficient Use of Paper Rule” became effective as of January 1, 2013. Covered by the Rule are pleadings, motions, and similar papers; all decisions, resolutions, and orders issued by courts and by quasi-judicial bodies under the administrative supervision of the Supreme Court; reports submitted to the courts, and transcripts of stenographic notes. (Please read also A.M. No. 10-3-7-SC Proposed Rules on E-Filing.)

The Rule requires all pleadings and court documents to be written in:
  • single space with a one-and- a-half space between paragraphs,
  • using an easily readable font style of the party's choice,
  • of 14-size font, and
  • on a 13-inch by 8.5-inch white bond paper.
The Rule also requires a left hand margin of 1.5 inches from the edge; an upper margin of 1.2 inches from the edge; a right hand margin of 1.0 inch from the edge; and a lower margin of 1.0 inch from the edge.

The Supreme Court justifies the Rule by the following reasons:

(1) To produce 500 reams of paper, twenty trees are cut and 100,000 liters of water are used, water that is no longer reusable because it is laden with chemicals and is just released to the environment to poison our rivers and seas;

2) The judicial system needs to cut the use of excessive quantities of costly paper, save our forests, avoid landslides, and mitigate the worsening effects of climate change that the world is experiencing;

(3) The judiciary can play a big part in saving our trees, conserving precious water, and helping mother earth.

Save forests, use Plain English

“In 1992, the Sierra Club estimated that the average California lawyer used a ton of paper each year, a hefty pile indeed in a state that had about 137,000 lawyers. The environmental group urged the state’s Judicial Council to enact a rule requiring use of recycled paper in documents filed in the courts, a move that the group estimated would save more than 6,000 trees annually.

“Two days later, a Los Angeles Times reader penned a letter-to-the-editor with a one-sentence solution of his own. ‘If the Sierra Club would like to save whole forests rather than just a few thousand trees,’ he wrote, ‘I suggest that they encourage lawyers to use plain English.’”

“The letter writer was David Mellinkoff, professor emeritus at the UCLA School of Law and the acknowledged dean of the legal profession’s Plain English movement.”

Source: “Legal Writing: Sense and Nonsense” by Douglas E. Abrams, Associate Professor, University of Missouri School of Law


Proposed Rules on E-Filing A.M. No. 10-3-7-SC: Guidelines on Submission and Processing of Soft Copies of Supreme Court-Bound Papers Pursuant to the Efficient Use of Paper Rule

(1) Soft copies of all Supreme Court-bound papers and their annexes must be submitted simultaneously with the hard copy if by compact disc (CD) or within twenty-four (24) hours from the filing of the hard copy if by e-mail. It must be understood, however, that the paper shall be deemed to have been filed on the date and time of filing of the hard copy and not the soft copy.

(2) The soft copies must be in PDF and individually saved, as well as individually attached to the e-mail, if applicable. The file name of the soft copy must be the same as the document title. Examples: Petition for Review should have a file name "Petition for Review.pdf" Annex A should have a file name "Annex A. pdf"

(3) Soft copies submitted by e-mail must be addressed to the appropriate docketing office:

Case Type Docketing Office E-mail Address (please verify)


Judicial cases Judicial Records Office (JRO) efilejro@sc.judiciary.gov.ph
Administrative
complaints
against personnel of the SC and its decentralized units (e.g., OCA, PHILJA, JBC,
MCLEO)
Office of Administrative Services, SC (OAS-SC) efile_oas_sc@sc.judiciary.gov.ph
Administrative complaints and
matters involving the Court of
Appeals, Sandiganbayan,
Court of Tax Appeals and lower courts, its justices, judges and personnel

Documentation Division, Legal Office, OCA efile_oca@sc.judiciary.gov.ph
Administrative
matters
involving the SC
and its
decentralized
units
Office of the Clerk of Court En Banc efile_occeb@sc.judiciary.gov.ph
Complaints against lawyers
and other bar matters
Office of the Bar Confidant (OBC) efile_bar@sc.jucliciary.gov.ph

(4) The above docketing offices have the primary responsibility of ensuring that all Supreme Court-bound papers have the corresponding soft copies. They shall also be responsible for the safekeeping and archiving of the CDs.

(5) The e-mail shall use the following format:



(6)) A CD or an e-mail shall contain only electronic documents pertaining to one case. In the same manner, all soft copies of Supreme Court-bound papers and their annexes pertaining to the same case shall be saved in one CD or attached to one e-mail. In case the total file size of the electronic documents exceeds the maximum size of the CD or the maximum size allowed for uploading by the e-mail service being used by the filer, the electronic documents may be saved in different CDs or e-mailed in batches, but must be clearly marked and/or follow the format prescribed above.

(7) The filer shall also attach to the CD or the e-mail a verified declaration that the pleading and annexes submitted electronically are complete and true copies of the printed document and annexes filed with the Supreme Court. The declaration shall use the following format:



The declaration attached to the CD must be original, while the declaration attached to the e-mail must be in PDF.


How to create a PDF; use a scanner to turn your paper documents to PDF

The Proposed Rules on (paperless) E-Filing require lawyers to submit their pleadings to the Supreme Court in PDF format. PDF stands for “Portable Document Format.” Adobe Acrobat is the standard for creating PDFs (where you can sign your documents online) but it is expensive.

A cheaper alternative is to use a scanner to turn your paper document to PDF. Late-model printers from HP, Brother, Epson, etc. have scanners bundled with them. (If you only have a generic scanner, you can download free software.) Here are the steps:

1. After preparing your documents in your word processor (MS Word, Libre Office, etc.), print them out. Sign the documents and have them notarized.

2. Scan your documents page by page; if you have voluminous documents, scanning them will be a tedious process.

You can monitor on your computer screen the scanning progress. Be careful with choosing the scanning type. If you choose a very high resolution, your PDF file will be extremely large. (If you are using Yahoo Mail, it has a limit of 25 megabytes for attachments.)

Save your documents as PDF to an appropriate folder.

3. Burn your PDFs into a CD. Or attach them to your email.

Resources: 

How do I scan to PDF? (University of Cambridge, Faculty of Law)

Scanning Directly to a PDF File – Epson

How to Scan a Document to PDF | eHow

Advanced Scan to PDF Free - CNET Download.com

Free seminars:

1. “English Proficiency Course” (4 hours; for college students, K-to-12 teachers, other groups)

2. “Clear, concise English for effective legal writing” (3-5 hours; for Student Councils, academic organizations, fraternities, sororities, NGOs, LGUs, any interested group; test yourself with the interactive exercises)

Seminars are for Metro Manila only. For more information or to schedule a seminar, please contact Atty. Gerry T. Galacio at 0927-798-3138.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Clear, concise, and effective English for law students, bar examinees, and legal writers in organizations, private companies, and government offices (22): Using software — StyleWriter 4, Drivel Defence, MS Word — to improve your writing

1. StyleWriter 4 editor software checks 10,000 words in 12 seconds for hundreds of style and English usage issues like wordy and complex sentences, passive voice, nominalization, jargon, clichés, readability, spelling, etc.

StyleWriter 4 graphs your style and sentence variety, and identifies your writing habits to give an instant view of your writing. You can learn to adjust your writing style to suit your audience and task. You can learn, for example, the writing style of Newsweek, Time, The Economist, and Scientific American.

StyleWriter 4 is widely used in the US federal government (for example, the Environmental Protection Agency). It can be used by educators, students, and professionals in various fields - business, law, social or physical science, medicine, nursing, engineering, public relations, human resources, journalism, accounting, etc. Download your free 14-day trial copy now.

2. Drivel Defence, free software from Plain English Campaign (identifies your long sentences and provides alternatives for long, complicated words)

3. MS Word (for newer versions, try “File menu>Options>Proofing tab>Show Readability Statistics>)


Go to Tools - Options - Spelling and Grammar.

Make sure that “Show Readability Statistics” is ticked.

Then select the text you want to test and select Tools - Spelling and Grammar (or click F7).

The dialogue box will ask if you want to check the remainder of the document. Click “no” and you will see the readability statistics.

Based on the statistics, re-write your text to get the following scores or percentages:

  • Flesch Reading Ease: 60 to 70 (or higher) 
  • Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level: 8th to 9th grade (or below)
  • Passive sentences: reduce to 18% (Judge Mark Painter recommendation) or 15% (Asian Development Bank guideline)
  • Words per sentence: 25 words or below
  • Sentences per paragraph: 6 to 8
Reading ease score Style description Estimated reading grade
0 to 30
30 to 40
50 to 60
60 to 70
70 to 80
80 to 90
90 to 100
Very Difficult
Difficult
Fairly Difficult
Standard
Fairly Easy
Easy
Very Easy
College graduate
13th to 16th grade
10th to 12th grade
8th and 9th grade
7th grade
6th grade
5th grade

For more information about the Flesch-Kincaid and other readability formulas, please read “The principles of readability” by William DuBay.

Why should you, as legal writers, aim for a reading level of 8th or 9th grade (or below)?

(a) Time Magazine articles are written at the 9th grade level.

(b) Judge Gerald Lebovits, New York City Civil Court, is a faculty member of Columbia University - Law School, Fordham University School of Law, and New York University School of Law. His philosophy of legal writing:
“Legal writing should be directed to smart high-school students. If they understand you, so will a more educated readership. Keep your words, sentence structure, paragraphs, and organization simple. Complex prose is weak prose. The erudite explain difficult concepts in easy-to-read language.”
(c) The following bestselling authors wrote at the 7th-grade level:
John Grisham
Tom Clancy
Michael Crichton
Clive Cussler
Mary Renault
Frank McCourt
Arthur Golden
Harper Lee
Mark Twain
(d) US Supreme Court justices want their decisions to be understood by ordinary people -- Bryan A. Garner’s 2010 interviews with US Supreme Court Justices, from Scribes Journal of Legal Writing Volume 13.

Justice Clarence Thomas:
I’d love one day for someone at a gas station who is not a lawyer to come up to me and say to me, “You know, I read your opinion, and I don’t agree with you.” Wouldn’t that be wonderful? “I’m not a lawyer, I read your opinion, I understood it, I don’t agree with you, but thanks for making it accessible.” So we talk of it in terms of accessibility.
Justice Stephen Breyer (in reply to Garner’s question, “Do you think it matters whether ordinary people can understand judicial opinions?”):
If an ordinary person who is not a lawyer can understand it, I think that gives weight to what the Court does, and law is supposed to be intelligible. They should be able to follow it without having to take special vocabulary courses. And the purpose of an opinion is to give your reasons, and you give your reasons both for guidance, but also it should be possible for readers to criticize the writer. Now, people can’t criticize what I say, they can’t explain why they think it’s wrong, unless they can understand.
4. Text Content Analysis Tool, from Using English

Simply write or paste text you want to analyze (up to 500KB in size) and this website’s free text analysis tool will give you statistics on word count, unique words, number of sentences, average words per sentence, lexical density, and the Gunning Fog readability index. More detailed statistics are available to members.

Free seminars:

1. “English Proficiency Course” (4 hours; for college students, K-to-12 teachers, other groups)

2. “Clear, concise English for effective legal writing” (3-5 hours; for Student Councils, academic organizations, fraternities, sororities, NGOs, LGUs, any interested group; test yourself with the interactive exercises)

Seminars are for Metro Manila only. For more information or to schedule a seminar, please contact Atty. Gerry T. Galacio at 0927-798-3138.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Clear, concise, and effective English for law students, bar examinees, and legal writers in organizations, private companies, and government offices (21): Plain Language guidelines from government regulatory offices

Australian Securities and Investment Commission: “Regulatory Guide 228 Prospectuses: Effective disclosure for retail investors” (November 2011)

Use the active voice
Use direct language (personal pronouns)
Use the positive and avoid double negatives
Use verbs rather than nouns, where possible
Avoid overusing definitions
Choose simple words for definitions
Avoid including additional content in definitions and using the defined term within the definition
Avoid jargon, where possible
Use short sentences
Use industry accepted terms
Tailor boilerplate text; omit it where possible
Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission: “How to create clear announcements”
Use commonsense names and abbreviations
Don’t use excessive definitions
Use shorter sentences
Prefer the active voice
Avoid hidden verbs
Use simple, common words, not jargon and legalese
Prefer the positive to the negative
Design your document with your reader in mind
Malaysia Securities Commission: “Plain Language Guide for Prospectuses” (2005)
Use personal pronouns
Draft clear and concise sentences
Use common everyday words
Avoid superfluous words
Use active voice
Change nouns to verbs
Use less legal and financial jargon
Use positive sentences and not multiple negatives
Use defined terms sparingly
Use an effective layout
New Zealand Financial Markets Authority: “Guidance Note: Effective Disclosure” (June 2012)
Use the active voice
Use pronouns not labels
Avoid double negatives
Use definitions effectively
Do not use jargon unnecessarily
Use short sentences
Ensure layout assists users
Use navigation tools and a well considered structure
Use page numbering
Present important information prominently
British Columbia Securities Commission: “Plain Language Style Guide”(March 2008)
Conciseness
Lean language
Active voice
Regular and reasonable language
Image-evoking, concrete and specific
Tight organization
You and your audience
US Securities Commission: “A Plain English Guide: How to create clear SEC disclosure documents” (1998)
Use the active voice with strong verbs
Don’t ban the passive voice, use it sparingly
Find hidden verbs
Try personal pronouns
Bring abstractions down to earth
Omit superfluous words
Write in the “positive”
Use short sentences
Replace jargon and legalese with short, common words
Keep the subject, verb, and object close together
Write using “if-then” conditionals
Keep your sentence structure parallel
Steer clear of “respectively”

Free seminars:

1. “English Proficiency Course” (4 hours; for college students, K-to-12 teachers, other groups)

2. “Clear, concise English for effective legal writing” (3-5 hours; for Student Councils, academic organizations, fraternities, sororities, NGOs, LGUs, any interested group; test yourself with the interactive exercises)

Seminars are for Metro Manila only. For more information or to schedule a seminar, please contact Atty. Gerry T. Galacio at 0927-798-3138.

Be a better writer or editor through StyleWriter 4: this software checks 10,000 words in 12 seconds for hundreds of style and English usage issues like wordy and complex sentences, passive voice, nominalization, jargon, clichés, readability, spelling, etc.

StyleWriter 4 graphs your style and sentence variety, and identifies your writing habits to give an instant view of your writing. You can learn to adjust your writing style to suit your audience and task. You can learn, for example, the writing style of Newsweek, Time, The Economist, and Scientific American.

StyleWriter 4 is widely used in the US federal government (for example, the Environmental Protection Agency). It can be used by educators, students, and professionals in various fields - business, law, social or physical science, medicine, nursing, engineering, public relations, human resources, journalism, accounting, etc. Download your free 14-day trial copy now.