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Words On The Page: Font Matters, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff 2018 Concordia University School of Law

Words On The Page: Font Matters, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

Typography, interestingly, is a bit of a hot issue amongst legal writers right now. Turns out, the way words look on a page affects not only the readability of the document: the believability of the content can change based on font. This month we will explore how the ways that words look on a page can help (or hurt) your argument by looking at fonts. [excerpt]


The Other Four-Letter Words, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff 2018 Concordia University School of Law

The Other Four-Letter Words, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

Some struggles in writing come from pesky four-letter words. Not the kind that result from muddy dog prints on the wood floors — the kind that result from not being quite sure of the correct way to use certain words in our writing. So, to celebrate the shortest month of the year, I thought we could learn about some short, four-letter words that tend to give us fits: that, they, whom, data, and none. [excerpt]


Using Quotation Marks Correctly, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff 2018 Concordia University School of Law

Using Quotation Marks Correctly, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

Our use of quotation marks should be consistent and take into account reader expectations. We write for American readers, educated in the American style, so we should follow the American rules when using quotation marks. With that in mind, I offer the following tips for correctly using quotation marks in your writing. [excerpt]


Three Tips For Concise Writing, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff 2018 Concordia University School of Law

Three Tips For Concise Writing, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

I'm just wrapping up the first unit of my legal writing class. During this time every year, I introduce my students to the 4 C's-four characteristics that should be present in every legal document.' Yes, every legal document should be clear, correct, complete, and concise. In our class, we emphasize these principles repeatedly. All legal writers should strive to attain the 4 C's. To that end, this month I offer some tips for concision. After all, I don't know anyone who isn't a little too wordy in the first draft. Let's look at three ...


Typography Matters: Document Design, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff 2018 Concordia University School of Law

Typography Matters: Document Design, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

This month, I am turning to what I hope is [a] ... helpful topic: document design. Sit back and enjoy learning more about spaces after periods, cueing devices, point size, justification, and paragraph breaks. [excerpt]


Verbs: The Basics On Tense And Voice, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff 2018 Concordia University School of Law

Verbs: The Basics On Tense And Voice, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

... [V]erbs have voice, mood, tense, number, and person. There are regular verbs and irregular verbs; a verb can be linking, transitive, or intransitive, depending on the types of objects or complements it can take; verbs can be auxiliary or main verbs; verbs even stop functioning as verbs and appear as verbal phrases or gerunds. Whew! Covering all that would be way too much grammar for one month. So, here’s a refresher on the basics of verb tense and voice. [excerpt]


Some February Fun: F Words, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff 2018 Concordia University School of Law

Some February Fun: F Words, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

I’ve wanted to write another column on word pairs for a while. 1 I decided that this month is it. Let’s celebrate the shortest month of the year by looking at “F” words[--first/firstly, farther/further, feign/feint, fictional/fictitious, flair/flare, flammable/inflammable, flaunt/flout, forbear/forebear, founder/flounder, forgo/forego, fortuitous/fortunate]. [excerpt]


Robust Writing: Crafting Better Sentences, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff 2018 Concordia University School of Law

Robust Writing: Crafting Better Sentences, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

My students have ... learned that legal writing can be difficult to read. Sometimes the difficulty comes from hard concepts or ideas. Sometimes, however, the difficulty comes from difficult sentence structure. The writer has tried to pack too many ideas into one unit. I get to spend part of my time in the spring helping my students work on creating easily readable briefs and developing their own writing style. Part of that help includes editing their writing for more robust sentences. This issue, we’ll focus on crafting better sentences by creating shorter, less cluttered sentences. [excerpt]


Ten Steps To Build Better Briefs: Part I, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff 2018 Concordia University School of Law

Ten Steps To Build Better Briefs: Part I, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

... [C]onstructing a better brief can be done in ten (easy) steps — some focusing on sentences, some on paragraphs, and some on the entire brief. [excerpt]


Taking The 30,000-Foot View: Seeing What You've Written, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff 2018 Concordia University School of Law

Taking The 30,000-Foot View: Seeing What You've Written, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

In thinking about a topic for this column, I took a moment to look back over what I've covered since I started writing for The Advocate. I saw a huge range of topics-- word choice to punctuation to parts of speech to document design. I've even covered proofing techniques. I saw one huge hole, however. I've never written about how to edit to ensure your legal writing is complete. So for this month I'll explore a little bit of why self-editing is so difficult, followed by some discrete tasks each legal writer can use to ensure ...


Spring Cleaning Part Ii, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff 2018 Concordia University School of Law

Spring Cleaning Part Ii, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

... [I]n the spirit of spring-cleaning, let’s look at some writing “rules” you can jettison to the trash heap.


Ten Steps To Build Better Briefs: Part Ii, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff 2018 Concordia University School of Law

Ten Steps To Build Better Briefs: Part Ii, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

Last month we started the 10 steps to building better briefs. We covered the first five, finishing the sentence level tips and beginning the paragraph level tips. This month, we will continue that discussion, by finishing up the tips for better paragraphs and finally getting to the tips for the entire brief. [excerpt]


Connections Count Part Ii: Orienting And Substantive Transitions, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff 2018 Concordia University School of Law

Connections Count Part Ii: Orienting And Substantive Transitions, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

Last month we began exploring transitions and their usage. We covered generic transitions, their placement, and the importance of using the transition with the exact right meaning. This month, we are turning our attention to other categories of transitions: orienting and substantive. We will then end with a simple editing tip to help ensure "pop" in your writing. [excerpt]


Problems With Pronouns Part Ii, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff 2018 Concordia University School of Law

Problems With Pronouns Part Ii, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

In the March/April 2012 edition of The Advocate, I addressed the problems created when pronouns and their antecedents don’t match. There are other pesky pronoun problems lurking out there. This round, I will address specific types of pronouns — personal, reflexive, and possessive and how to use them correctly. [excerpt]


Do Some Spring Cleaning: Throw Out Grammar Myths, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff 2018 Concordia University School of Law

Do Some Spring Cleaning: Throw Out Grammar Myths, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

... [M]any legal writers are bogged down by useless grammar myths: suggestions that they learned as “rules” early in their schooling. We all sat in an elementary school desk long ago and learned how to compose in English. Unfortunately, many students learned what were suggestions-to-help-them-become-more-sophisticated-and- better-writers as rules-never-to-be-broken. Here are my top five “rules” you should throw out as you do your spring cleaning.


Laughing All The Way To Court: Avoiding The Humor And Headaches Created By Misplaced Modifiers, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff 2018 Concordia University School of Law

Laughing All The Way To Court: Avoiding The Humor And Headaches Created By Misplaced Modifiers, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

Modifiers can create unintended humor, or hurl unintended insults, when we forget that they need to be near the word they modify and let them drift [elsewhere]. [excerpt]


My Inbox: Follow-Up Advice For Readers, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff 2018 Concordia University School of Law

My Inbox: Follow-Up Advice For Readers, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

Forsdyce-Ruff answers readers' questions about dashes and colons; en dashes, em dashes, and hyphens; serial commas; sentences beginning with conjunctions; and sentences beginning with 'hopefully.'


Fairness, Clarity, Precision, And Reaction: Gender-Free And Bias-Free Word Choice, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff 2018 Concordia University School of Law

Fairness, Clarity, Precision, And Reaction: Gender-Free And Bias-Free Word Choice, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

Every legal problem involves people. You cannot practice law without writing about people. But writing about people in a way that is clear and won’t cause a negative reaction by the reader takes some effort. The language of the law is moving toward gender- and bias-free word choices, but not as [quickly] as other disciplines. Yet, a few simple and easy changes can help move your writing toward being more precise, fair and clear, and help you avoid any negative reaction from the reader. [excerpt]


Cutting The Clutter: Three Steps To More Concise Legal Writing, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff 2018 Concordia University School of Law

Cutting The Clutter: Three Steps To More Concise Legal Writing, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

... [G]ood legal writing should contain no more and no fewer words than necessary to convey the idea to the reader.... I suggest you spend your time removing wordy stock phrases, replacing weak verbs, and eliminating nominalizations to create more concise documents. [excerpt]


Connections Count Part I: Generic Transitions, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff 2018 Concordia University School of Law

Connections Count Part I: Generic Transitions, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

Transitions serve an important function in any piece of writing: they connect the ideas in sentences and paragraphs and show the reader how lines of reasoning are advancing. These simple words let the reader know when to expect more detail or when to expect a different topic or when to expect a counter-point.

There are three basic types of transitions: generic, orienting, and substantive. We will look at generic transitions this month. [excerpt]


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