Italics vs. underlining

Italics and underlining have two roles in legal writing: indicating emphasis and formatting legal citations. You should avoid using underlining in my classes, using italics instead. For legal citations, the Bluebook advises that you should use either italics or underlining, but not both, for formatting citations. The examples it gives use underlining, because it is clearer for illustrations, as readers might have trouble, for example, determining whether a period is italicized, but it’s easy to see whether it is underlined. [continue]

The importance of mechanics

The role of correct grammar, punctuation, and citations—what I generally refer to as writing “mechanics”—early in your legal career is hard to overestimate. Professors, peers, and potential employers will judge you on details that may seem quirky. I offer you two principles and an anecdote that emphasizes them. Be obnoxiously detail-oriented in examining your own work (and the work of your team members, if you are in a law firm) for compliance with grammar, punctuation, and citation rules. Do not be pedantic about the legal writing of others. Years ago at the University of Minnesota, we had outside folks come Read More …