GrammarPhile Blog

A Request: Write Legal Documents in Plain English

Posted by Kelly Creighton   Jan 25, 2017 7:30:00 AM


Professionals outside and inside the legal field complain about long and confusing documents. Everyone is occasionally guilty of looking at a lease agreement or a business contract with a bewildered expression while uttering the phrase, "Huh?"

If you believe that the practice of writing legal documents as if they are boring court dockets from the 18th century must end, you are not alone. Even the US government agrees that we should write documents in plain English. The Plain Writing Act passed in 2010 requires federal agencies to write "clear Government communication that the public can understand and use." And it states that documents distributed to the public should be clear, concise, and well-organized.

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Topics: legal writing, proofreading for legal documents

Why Proofreading Is a Must for Legal Firms

Posted by Phil Jamieson   Sep 7, 2016 7:30:00 AM


Lawyers know better than most that the devil is in the details: One tiny error in a contract can upend a multimillion-dollar deal. That’s why lawyers and paralegals themselves are often natural proofreaders – they dedicate much of their time to reading reams of documents with an eagle eye.


Still, as proofreaders themselves will tell you, it’s invaluable to have an outsider’s perspective and a fresh set of eyes to catch errors you might overlook. That’s also why we have two proofreaders go through every document our clients submit – we have found that it greatly reduces the chances that a mistake will slip through.

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Topics: legal writing, legal proofreading, proofreading for legal documents

3 Quick Writing Fixes for Law Firms

Posted by Terri Porter   Apr 21, 2016 7:30:00 AM

We see a variety of law firm documents come through — marketing (client alerts, blog posts, attorney bios, practice area brochures, website copy), business development (RFP responses, pitches) and legal (briefs, pleadings). Some of the writing is excellent, and, well … some isn’t.

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Topics: legal writing, readability

8 Proofreading Tricks (and a Few Treats)

Posted by Terri Porter   Oct 29, 2015 5:00:00 AM

Who says you’re too old to trick-or-treat? This week, we offer 8 tricks to help you become a better proofreader, along with a few treats at the end for those who proofread marketing, legal or medical copy.

Not all of these techniques will work for everyone, and they won’t work in all instances. Much will depend on the length and complexity of the text, the time available for proofreading and what works for you individually. I use some of these tricks regularly and others not at all. Give them a try with your next document and see what works for you. 

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Topics: proofreading, legal writing, medical writing, marketing writing, proofreading tricks, proofreading tips

10 Tips for Better Business Writing (Part 2)

Posted by Terri Porter   Feb 25, 2015 6:00:00 AM

In last week’s post, we discussed the first three tips relating to how to make the content of your business writing better:

1. Know the purpose of the piece and make it clear up front.
2. Write in plain English.
3. Use active voice.

Below we provide the remaining three tips related to improving content, and in Part 3 we’ll tell you how to fine-tune what you’ve written.

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Topics: business writing, writing tips, legal writing, public relations writing, medical writing, marketing writing, 10 helpful tips

10 Tips for Better Business Writing (Part 1)

Posted by Terri Porter   Feb 18, 2015 6:00:00 AM

Excellent advice abounds for how to be a better writer in specific fields: public relations/marketing, law, medicine, technology, etc. Despite the nuances specific to those disciplines, certain rules for good business writing apply across the board. Our tips aren’t all-inclusive, but if you follow these guidelines, you’ll improve your business writing exponentially.

We discuss the first six tips, relating to content, today and in Part 2 next week. The third week in Part 3 we'll talk about how to fine-tune what you’ve written.

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Topics: business writing, writing tips, legal writing, writing for your audience, public relations writing, medical writing, marketing writing

Rescue Your Writing from Redundancy

Posted by Terri Porter   Jan 28, 2015 6:00:00 AM

The new year is an absolutely perfect time to make new beginnings in many areas, including your writing. In the same way you might clear out and unclutter your house or apartment, you can rid your writing of redundancies, tautologies and pleonasms — those repetitive words and phrases that include but are not limited to extra words that say the same thing (e.g., begin anew, free gift), words used with acronyms that are part of the acronym (e.g., PIN number, UPC code) and superlatives used for emphasis (e.g., absolutely perfect). The end result will be a positive improvement in your writing, making it tighter, much more concise and infinitely clearer.

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Topics: business writing, financial writing, legal writing

Don’t Be Fooled by False Subjects

Posted by Terri Porter   Jan 21, 2015 7:00:00 AM

Because January is a big month for exercise resolutions, our posts this month focus on whipping your writing into better shape.

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Topics: business writing, technical writing, government writing, financial writing, scientific writing, legal writing

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