ABA Journal

Bryan Garner on Words

90 ABA Journal Bryan Garner on Words articles.

Eye for Errors: Test your skills at editorial triage

Take the Editor’s Quiz: Give these briefs a minimalist edit—confining yourself to outright errors. In each sentence that follows, find one or more glaring errors and one or more venial errors.

Garner: Pro Tips on Speech Prep

You’ve been asked to give a speech. If you’re well-versed in the subject, you may think you can wing it. Don’t try.

How architecture affects communication during meetings

Design decisions subliminally influence people’s experience at work—even their job satisfaction. The relative success or failure of meetings, whether with clients, colleagues or outside speakers, depends in part on how the space makes people feel.

Learn the fundamentals of writing first—experiment later

It’s often said that you must know the rules before you break them. But why is that, exactly?

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…

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