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Exercises from LEGAL WRITING IN PLAIN ENGLISH, Bryan A. Garner

§ 4. Divide the document into sections, and divide sections into smaller parts as needed. Use informative headings for the sections and subsections.

Exercises

Basic

Find a pre-1950 law-review article or treatise with long stretches of text uninterrupted by headings. Devise appropriate headings. If, as a result of this exercise, you find that the organization is poor, note the organizational deficiencies. If you're a member of a writing group or class, bring a copy of the relevant pages and be prepared to explain where your headings would go and to discuss any organizational problems you uncovered.

Intermediate

In a state administrative code, find a regulation having at least three sections with headings that don't adequately describe the sections' contents. Devise better headings. If you're a member of a writing group or class, be prepared to explain why your edits would improve the regulation.

Advanced

Find a proxy statement or prospectus with long stretches of uninterrupted text. Break up the long paragraphs into smaller paragraphs and add headings where appropriate. For a model of this approach, see Garner, Securities Disclosure in Plain English §§ 41-43 (1999). If, as a result of this exercise, you find that the organization is poor, note the organizational deficiencies. If you're a member of a writing group or class, bring a copy of the relevant pages and be prepared to explain where your headings would go and to discuss any organizational problems you uncovered.


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© 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.


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