My post earlier this morning complaining about “and/or” has got me on a roll.
Here are a few more pet peeves or commonly seen grammar errors:
1) Commas in Pairs (Rule 6.17, Chicago Manual of Style, 16th ed)
Whenever a comma is used to set off an element, a second comma is required if the phrase or sentence continues beyond the element being set off:
– Incorrect: Judy went to Italy on June 15, 2004 to eat pasta.
– Correct: Judy went to Italy on June 15, 2004, to eat pasta.
You need a comma after the year in the example above (and yes, I realize the meaning in the sentence could be conveyed more easily by rewording the sentence).
2) Superscript is evil
According to the McGill Guide and my dainty sensibilities, legal citation and legal writing more broadly should not use superscript.
Your Microsoft Word may default to convert ordinal numbers to superscript:
– Incorrect: 14th
– Correct: 14th (McGill Guide, Rule 3.7.3)
You can change the default settings using the “Word” button in the upper left of Microsoft Word and choosing “Word Options and then selecting “Proofing” and “Auto-correct” options.
Never use superscript in legal documents, especially in case citations.
3) Do not use “et al” in a case citation (McGill Guide, Rule 3.3.1)
– Incorrect: Brown et al v ABC Systems (1985), 42 OR (3d) 112 (CA)
– Correct: Brown v ABC Systems (1985), 42 OR (3d) 112 (CA)
[note: the case is fictitious]
4) Prefer single spaces after periods
Any number of leading authorities call for a single space after periods (these authorities are summarized by Matthew Buttrick in Typography for Lawyers at 43 and include the Chicago Manual of Style and Bryan Garner).
This point was already made on SLAW a few years ago.
Word processors are designed for single spaces after periods. The habit of putting two spaces after a period dates back to monospaced type on old-fashioned typewriters.
Addition: since posting, I remembered one more:
5) Pin point citations to cases
Rule 3.6 of the McGill Guide is clear: the pinpoint citation (to a paragraph or page number) always precedes the parenthetical jurisdiction and court:
– Incorrect: Brown v ABC Systems (1985), 42 OR (3d) 112 (CA) at para 5.
– Correct: Brown v ABC Systems (1985), 42 OR (3d) 112 at para 5 (CA).