Although I’m guilty of more than my fair share of typographical errors and am a dreadfully bad proofreader (very, very guilty), I’m actually a stickler about good writing when it comes to my professional work. One of my all time favorite books is Bryan Garner’s The Winning Brief, a book that offers 100 tips for writing the best legal brief possible. Some of the book is exclusive to legal writing, but most of the book is a helpful guide for any good, persuasive writing.
Now that my kids have started public school, I’m having conniptions about the stuff they’re bringing home, whether it’s for their consumption or mine. I’m somewhat forgiving of the typos, since I’m so guilty of that sin myself, but I’m horrified by the grammatical errors. Yesterday, I taught my children a new word based on one of the materials the school sent home: ambiguity. It’s depressing to have to police the school material so carefully.
In any event, if you’d like to learn tips about good writing, regular reader Judy Rose has started the web site for you: Writing English. Judy Rose has worked for some years as a corporate consultant, helping business people write better documents. Judging by what I’ve seen at her site already, if Judy Rose gets too many customers, she could well put most business lawyers out of work. Why do I say that? Because 99% of the business disputes I’ve worked on came about because the two parties to the dispute wrote and relied upon horrible, ambiguous, muddy, confusing, incomplete documents. If they’d taken a few minutes to have a grammarian look those documents over, the legal trouble would never have happened.
So, check out Writing English and see what you think.