Thursday, June 13, 2013

Clear, concise, and effective English for law students, bar examinees, and legal writers in organizations, private companies, and government offices (13): Use simple, clear sentence structures

[1] “Guidelines for Drafting and Editing Court Rules” by Bryan A. Garner (used in the Plain Language-restyling of the 1998 US Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure)

Avoid interruptive phrases between the subject and the verb by moving them to the beginning or end of the sentence.

Enumerate at the end – not at the beginning – of a sentence.

[2] From Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Style Guide 2nd Edition
Use basic, simple sentence structures

Choose the simplest tenses

Don’t bury long dependent clauses in mid-sentence

[3] Five principles of readability, from OWL Purdue (listed below are three principles that are similar to guidelines by Garner and OECD)
Principle One: Sentences that have a subject-verb-object order are more readable than those that don’t.

Principle Two: When possible, put the agent (subject) and action (verb) close together in the sentence.

Principle Three: Keep modifiers and the words they modify close together in the sentence.

[4] Free resources from the Michigan Bar Journal:
Down with Provided That (by Prof. Joseph Kimble, president, Thomas Cooley College of Law, Michigan, USA; Burton Awards for “Reform in Law” Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (2007) and Federal Rules of Evidence (2011)

The 20 Most Common Sentence-Level Faults Among Legal Writers (by Bryan A. Garner)

Clearing Up Ambiguity from a Series Modifier 
Ambiguous Drafting and the 12-Pound Cat


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