§ 33. Minimize definitions. If you have more than just a few, put them in a schedule at the end--not at the beginning.
In the literature on legal drafting, find additional authority for the idea that good drafters minimize definitions.
In a formbook or statute book, find a contract or statute in which definitions account for at least 40% of the length. If you're part of a writing group or class, be prepared to discuss your views on (1) why the drafter resorted to so many definitions, (2) the extent to which you consider the definitions a help or a hindrance, and (3) whether any of the definitions are downright silly.
In a formbook or ordinance book, find a short contract or ordinance in which definitions account for at least 20% of the length. Rewrite it without definitions. If you're part of a writing group or class, be prepared to discuss any difficulties you might have had. But try hard--and try again--to overcome these difficulties in your redraft.
© 2001, Bryan A. Garner
These exercises appear in Bryan A. Garner's Legal Writing in Plain English: A Text with Exercises, published by The University of Chicago Press and available at bookstores and on the Web at www.press.uchicago.edu.