ABA Journal

Bryan Garner on Words

86 ABA Journal Bryan Garner on Words articles.

The Principle of End Weight: Creating sentences with emphasis

Let’s investigate a little-known secret of style.

Quick: What’s the most emphatic part of a sentence? Many legal writers don’t know, and this explains why many are so poor at phrasing.

How to write powerful closers

If, in persuasive writing, your opening words must arouse your reader’s attention, your closing words must somehow prompt your reader to act.

Make motions more powerful by writing openers that focus on ‘deep issues’

An effective opener involves stating the problem to be solved. After all, what is a motion? It’s a request to resolve a specific problem by entering a specific order.

Going Deep

What’s the most important part of a motion or brief? The judges I’ve interviewed over the years give various responses to the question, but what I most often hear is…

How life lessons from a legendary golf instructor can improve lawyers’ litigation scores

Years ago when I was playing competitive golf in junior tournaments throughout Texas and Oklahoma, my coach was the great Harvey Penick of Austin, Texas. He was the gentlest imaginable…

Bryan Garner mourns the lost art of reviewing books

Once upon a time, bar journals and law reviews typically devoted many pages to book reviews. Now they’re a rarity for three primary reasons.

The Question of Voice: How to bring a more conversational style to your writing

When editing most lawyers’ work, I have little regard for the writer’s voice because most lawyers haven’t cultivated a discernible voice. What all legal writers should strive for is to be the voice of reason.

Parenthetical Habits: On the use and overuse of parentheses and brackets

In 1680, an anonymous “well-wisher to the attainments of children” wrote A Treatise of Stops, Points, or Pauses. At only 19 pages, this punctuation guide is a slight affair.

Celebrating the powerful eloquence of Justice Robert Jackson

This year marks two important anniversaries concerning the great Justice Robert H. Jackson.

How using checklists can improve your writing

Have you ever noticed that you tend to make mistakes when you depart from a routine? You have a normal way of doing things, but then something unforeseen happens and…

How to incorporate big data into your day-to-day toolkit

When in 2004 Google announced its ambitious project of scanning all books ever printed and amassing the information into a huge database, perhaps nobody understood the full ramifications of the…

Bryan Garner’s tribute to his friend and co-author Antonin Scalia

"Originalism," so called, is perhaps the single issue for which Justice Antonin Scalia, my co-author on two books, was most controversial. I'll never forget his ire—it was full-blown anger—when I…

A ‘conversation’ with the late, great lexicographer Samuel Johnson

Recently I had the opportunity to sit down with the great Samuel Johnson (1709–1784)—or rather with his books—to see what he had to say about lawyers, their profession and their…

30 more words to test your pronunciation skills

If you took the pronunciation quiz in last month's issue, you may well have had any of several reactions, some negative. (1) Denial: That can't be right! I've never…

Is your pronunciation on point? Take this quiz to find out

Every so often a news item appears about how a particular legal term is most properly pronounced. Certiorari, for example, surfaces from time to time. Last year an article on…

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