Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Redbook

Regular readers of this blog know that it is about more than technology (i.e. tech & practice).  I love to write, and I love the art of writing.  Writing is the craft of the lawyer. Despite the fact that it is the bulk of what we do, as a group we don't do it very well.  We get frozen by habit and custom even if that means producing a product that is less than it should be.  Conventions control because it has always been done that way.

Bryan Garner is one of my writing heroes.  A lawyer, he is known first and foremost as the editor of Black's Law Dictionary.  Garner has also taken on the courageous challenge of making lawyers better writers.  To that end he has written a shelf's worth of books, and I own many of them.  My favorite is The Redbook, A Manual On Legal Style (Third Edition, West, 2013).  This 614 page manual is a great tool for making your writing better and contemporary.

Some examples:
The modern trend is toward less capitalization. Sec. 2.1.  
Attest is used as the appropriate verb in the prepositional phrase attest to .  Sec. 12.4.  
A typical affidavit identifies the affiant, attests to the affiant's qualifications for making the statement, and records the affiant's statement of facts or opinion.  It should also include a clear statement of the affiant's purpose, such s to support a motion or to serve as evidence.  Sec. 20.1(c).
The Redbook is not a replacement for The Bluebook or other citation systems.  It is different.  It is about writing.  What is especially exciting about The Redbook is Garner's educating the reader to improvements in writing that are the product of computers and word processors.  For example, "Today, word processors can automatically use the correct curly marks known as smart quotes (" . . . "). There's no excuse for still using the ugly straight quotes, which are typographical blemishes that don't match any font."  Sec. 1.29.  There is even a section on writing better e-mail messages.  Sec. 16.

If you care to improve your writing, The Redbook could be a valuable tool to help you.  Check it out.  Price varies depending on the vendor.  It is available at Amazon, West, and other sites.

Please visit for more information about Harding & Associates Family Law

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1 comment:

Andrew Felix said...

Bryan A. Garner is a well known U.S. lawyer, lexicographer, and a teacher, He has written several books, His most famous books were Garner's Modern American Usage and Elements of Legal Style.

Andrew Felix

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