Grammar Can Be Funny, But Not All Grammarians Are

By Linda Kruschke, Director of Legal Publications

This book review was originally written for the ACLEA (Association for Continuing Legal Education) newsletter called In the Loop. We are sharing it here today in celebration of National Grammar Day.


If you work in legal publications (or any type of publications for that matter), grammar is important. Whether you are a legal editor, a copy editor, or a proofreader, you have to be a little bit pedantic about grammar, punctuation, and style.

But sometimes you just like to focus on the humorous side of grammar (yes, there really is a humorous side of grammar!). Sometimes you like to read books like the classic Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss. Or sometimes you enjoy the humor in more traditional grammar texts like Garner’s Dictionary of Legal Usage by Bryan Garner.

When I was asked to write a book review for In the Loop, I decided it would be fun to share a different humorous grammar book with the ACLEA folks, one that the legal publications and seminars people could both appreciate. So imagine my delight when I discovered Grammar Snobs Are Great Big Meanies by June Casagrande. I cracked it open (okay, I actually opened it on my Kindle, but don’t tell my fellow legal pubs folks) and started with the Note from the Author.

At the outset, Casagrande makes a distinction between grammar geeks—people who are fascinated by grammar and word usage—and grammar snobs—people who like to rub their superior grammar knowledge (which is apparently actually not that superior) in other people’s faces for spite. She claims to be the former, but proves quite early on in the book to be of the latter ilk.

Her mean-spirited attack of grammar gurus such as James Kilpatrick, Lynne Truss, and Bryan Garner, to name but a few, took me quite aback. It was not at all what I expected and not at all funny (at least not to me). In her first chapter, “A Snob for All Seasons,” she spends five pages attacking Kilpatrick as well as William Saffire. She ends with a single page on the grammar lesson of the chapter, using as an illustration a sentence involving a bug crawling up these grammarian’s butts. While the lesson was accurate on the use of “‘s” with compound subjects, it was hard to see through the unfunny language of the example.

In addition, she uses a fair amount of sexual humor in instances that are unwarranted and merely gratuitous. For example, in the discussion of the difference between “to lay” and “to lie,” she uses an example that involves police requiring suspects to “lay” rather than “lie” on the floor at a crime scene. Rather than focus on the everyday difference between these words, Casagrande homes in on the slang or vulgar meaning of the word “lay,” to have sexual intercourse. Her attempt at humor was lost on me and her lesson was not particularly helpful if one was truly confused about which of these two verbs to use.

On a positive note, I did find confirmation that my favorite birthday song does use the words “who” and “whom” correctly.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I confess I couldn’t finish this whole book, but I did slug through a good portion of it hoping to find a funny nugget. No such luck. All I found were insults to anyone who thinks that being pedantic (i.e. excessively concerned with minor details or rules) about grammar is a useful thing. As a Director of Legal Publications, pedantic editors are what I look for when hiring new staff. In legal publications consistency and accuracy are important; one can easily be pedantic without being a grammar snob. Likewise, as Casagrande illustrates, one can be a grammar snob (and meanie) without being particularly pedantic.

In short, I don’t recommend this book for the grammar lessons or the humor. I’ll keep looking for another good humorous grammar book to recommend.

Editorial Sloth, Lists, Etc.

By Yasha Renner, Attorney Editor

It was a Friday, almost lunch time, and I was nearing the end of a chapter I was editing for the 2016 revision of Damages. I couldn’t figure out why the chapter’s author decided to include only four of the nine contractor designations cited in ORS 701.081 when they all seemed applicable. Does the author think less of locksmiths or home inspectors? I wondered.

Here’s the sentence:

As part of the registration process, a $10,000, $15,000, or $20,000 surety bond must be posted, depending on the contractor’s designation as a residential general contractor, a residential developer, a residential specialty contractor, or a residential limited contractor. ORS 701.068; ORS 701.081.

At a loss, a sly thought entered my mind; I could finish the sentence with an etc. That way I wouldn’t have to bother the author with a stupid question, nor would I have to endanger the assertion by adding the remaining actors, who (I am sure) were excluded for noble reasons. But to act on this temptation, I soon learned, would have been quite wrong. And just as I resolved to do so my conscience spoke, accusing me of editorial sloth—a capital vice.

So I did what I often do when faced with a question of editorial ethics: I turn to Bryan Garner, our department’s de facto editor in chief, who, with meekness and charity, invoked the following French proverb: “God save us from a lawyer’s et cetera.” Garner’s Dictionary of Legal Usage 331 (3rd ed. 2011). And thus, with the help of a higher power (i.e., a style guide), I was instantly freed from the enemy’s grip. “Still,” he counseled, “it would be foolish to lay down an absolute proscription against using etc., for often one simply cannot practicably list all that should be listed in a given context.” Id.

Alright, then, I thought to myself. I was relieved to know that etc. is not malum in se. But does the context here sanction its use? Certainly not, since I could list all of the designations. “Hideous!” my right-brain suddenly cried out, clearly bothered by the thought; and with that I yielded to its complaint. This sentence had to be pretty.

What’s an attorney editor to do?

Let’s just say I banished the offending half-truth. But that doesn’t really matter. What matters is that we lawyers don’t miss the moral here, which has nothing to do with style or grammar and everything to do with cultivating good habits, namely diligence and veracity, i.e., completeness. Because an incomplete thought, if aired, could become a scandal to others who, for instance, might be tempted to complete it for you, etc., etc.

Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day? Probably not.

by Ian Pisarcik, Legal Publications Attorney Editor

The writer David Foster Wallace was so fond of words that he used to lie awake for hours reading the dictionary and circling the ones he liked best: Maugre, Tarantism, Ruck, Sciolism, Primipara. He is a man who once wrote “I do things like get in a taxi and say, ‘The library, and step on it.’” His desire to use uncommon words was matched by his desire to know the meaning of those uncommon words. Many lawyers, it seems at times, share only the first desire. Nowhere is this more evident than in the enduring use of the word shall.

Lawyers rely heavily on the word shall, and while the most common interpretation of the word is that it denotes a mandatory action (i.e., must), lawyers do not consistently use it this way. As lawyer and lexicographer Bryan Garner points out, “that’s why courts in virtually every English-speaking jurisdiction have held—by necessity—that shall means may in some contexts, and vice-versa.” Let’s look at some examples, shall we?

  1. “No person shall operate a motorboat at a speed greater than is reasonable.” If shall means must, then this sentence is telling us that no person must operate a motorboat at a speed greater than reasonable. In other words, you’re not required to operate a motorboat at a speed greater than is reasonable, but if you want to, knock yourself out. This is clearly not the intended meaning. What the author is trying to say is: “No person may operate a motorboat at a speed greater than is reasonable.” In other words, you are not allowed to do this.
  2. “The sender shall have fully complied with the requirement to send notice, when the sender obtains electronic confirmation that the transmission has been received.” Is shall denoting a mandatory action here? Of course not. The sentence is simply defining when the sender has fully complied: “The sender has complied . . . when the sender obtains electronic confirmation. . .”
  3. “The agreement shall be terminated.” A duty must be imposed on a capable actor. An agreement is not a capable actor. What this sentence is intended to mean is that the agreement is terminated (presumably by someone or some action, but that’s a post for another day).

The word shall is rarely used consistently throughout a legal document. And the result is that, as Garner puts it, “the word breeds litigation.” According to Garner, the multivolume Words and Phrases, published by Thomson Reuters, contains 107 pages of small-type cases interpreting the word shall. Garner hoped to cut down on some of this litigation when he revised the civil, appellate, and criminal federal rules, and dropped the word shall completely. The editors at the Oregon State Bar have chosen to do the same. We shall banish the word from our vocabulary, and don’t get us started on witnesseth . . .

Punctuation Pet Peeves

Some people are bothered by the over use of the exclamation point. F. Scott Fitzgerald once said, “Cut out all these exclamation points. An exclamation point is like laughing at your own joke.” He may be right, but a properly placed exclamation point has never peeved me.

Other people are bothered by the use of the Oxford comma and still others by leaving it out. But that’s an argument (and a post) for another day.

My biggest punctuation pet peeve is the misuse of hyphens, en dashes, and em dashes. Writers frequently use these three distinct forms of punctuation interchangeably. Just because they are all little lines doesn’t mean they are the same. They are different lengths for a reason and they have different purposes in the composition of a sentence.

The Internet makes this particularly troublesome because often html editors don’t provide options for the em dash. Yet I think the problem stems from many people simply not understanding what these three punctuation marks do.

The Hyphen (-)

The hypen is a tiny little line that is used to connect two or more words as in a multi-word adjective or compound phrase. For example, “multi-word” in the previous sentence uses a hyphen. Other examples are: a three-day notice; long-term care options; open-ended contingency; or he was down-and-out.

Hyphens are also used to separate the syllables of a single word at the end of a typed line.

Finally, hyphens are sometimes part of a section, paragraph, or page number in a book. For example, an OSB legal publication might include the section number “§3.4-3” appearing on page “3-27.”

A hyphen is created using the hyphen key next to the 0 key on your computer keyboard.

The en dash (–)

The en dash, so called because it is roughly the width of the letter n, is used to indicate a range of numbers. For example, in a case citation where the pinpoint cite is a range of pages, the range would be “235–37.” If you were citing to an OSB legal publication, the passage you cite to might be on “3-27–3-32.” This last example illustrates the importance of using hyphens and en dashes correctly.

An en dash is created either by using the “Insert Symbol” menu on in your word processing program or by using the combination of “Ctrl+the minus key.”

The em dash (—)

The em dash, so called because it is roughly the width of the letter m, is sort of a comma or parenthesis on steroids. If you have a phrase in the middle of a sentence—it’s important though not essential to the complete sentence but you want it to really stand out—set it off with em dashes. You could have just put commas or parentheses where the em dashes are in that last sentence; it all depends on how much you want that phrase to be emphasized. But if you use em dashes you do not put spaces before or after them.

An em dash is created either by using the “Insert Symbol” menu on in your word processing program or by using the combination of “Ctrl+Alt+the minus key.”

So the next time you start to think that size isn’t important, remember the hyphen, the en dash, and the em dash. They are all important punctuation marks, but they each serve a different purpose depending on their size.

Taking a Look at the Dreaded Bluebook: Part Two

By Ian Pisarcik, Legal Publications Attorney Editor

For part two of our look at some of the more commonly ignored or misinterpreted rules found in The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation, I want to address Internet citations. Perhaps more than any other type of citation, Internet citations seem to give attorneys trouble. Part of this is because the general rule dealing with Internet citations (Rule 18) was revised considerably between the eighteenth and nineteenth edition. Another factor is that the Oregon Appellate Courts Style Manual provides little guidance on the topic. With these things in mind, here are four rules to remember:

  1. Parallel Citations (Rule 18.2.3)

    The phrase “available at” should not be used to introduce all Internet citations. Rather, the phrase should be used only to introduce a parallel citation to an Internet source. A parallel citation to an Internet source is appropriate when the identical source is available in a printed medium, but a parallel citation to the Internet source will significantly improve access.

  2. Omitting the Institutional Author (Rule 18.2.2(a))

    The name of the author, when available, should generally be included in an Internet citation. However, when the author is an institutional author, the name of the institutional author should be omitted if domain ownership is clear from the website’s main title. Let’s look at the following citation: Or Dep’t of Fish and Wildlife, Hunter Reporting, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, (last visited Dec. 19, 2014). In this example, the domain ownership (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife) is clear from the website’s main title (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife) and thus the name of the institutional author should be omitted. Therefore, the citation becomes: Hunter Reporting, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, (last visited Dec. 19, 2014).

  3. Abbreviations (Rule 18.2.2(a), Rule 18.2.2(b)(i), Rule 15.1(d))

    In the previous example, the institutional author was abbreviated as “Or Dep’t of Fish and Wildlife,” yet the website’s main title remained “Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.” This is because the name of an institutional author should be abbreviated using tables T6 and T10, whereas main page titles should be abbreviated using table T13.

  4. Date (Rule 18.2.2(c))

    According to a 2002 study of federal appellate opinions, 84.6 percent of Internet citations in cases from 1997 were inaccessible in 2002; moreover, 34 percent of citations in cases from 2001 were already inaccessible by 2002. Because of this, and because websites are frequently being modified, it is important for an attorney to provide the date in an Internet citation. The date should be included after the main page title if the website contains a clear date associated with the cited material. If the website does not contain such a date, the date the website was last visited should be placed in a parenthetical after the URL. For example: Forest Land Protection Program, Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development, (last visited Dec. 19, 2014).

Taking a Look at the Dreaded Bluebook

By Ian Pisarcik, Legal Publications Attorney Editor

I have a confession to make: I like The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation. I actually think it’s well organized for the amount of information it contains, and I think there are good reasons behind many of the rules. Mary Whisner, a reference librarian at the University of Washington School of Law, provides a good example:

Most law reviews are paginated consecutively through a volume, so we can cite an article unambiguously by volume and page: 79 J.Name 36 (2003). But if a journal or magazine starts numbering with page one each issue within a volume, then the rule has to be different. Volume 79 of a given journal might have twelve different articles starting on page 36, so it makes sense instead to cite journals that are not paginated consecutively with the format: J.Name, June 2003, at 36.

I even sort of enjoy thumbing through The Bluebook. But, I realize most attorneys aren’t as nerdy enamored with The Bluebook as I am. I would wager that most attorneys are more likely to recognize the sentiments of Judge Richard Posner:

Needless to say, I have not read the nineteenth edition. I have dipped into it, much as one might dip one’s toes in a pail of freezing water. I am put in mind of Mr. Kurtz’s dying words in Heart of Darkness¾‘The horror! The horror!’¾and am tempted to end there.

Nevertheless, in the interest of making The Bluebook a more familiar (if not a more comfortable) place to visit, I thought I would take the next couple posts to point out a few rules I commonly see ignored or misinterpreted.

  1. Omissions (Rule 5.3)

    Omitting words when using quoted language can be tricky. Thus, attorneys should review Rule 5.3. In particular, attorneys should keep in mind that ellipsis should never be used when individual words are merely altered. Moreover, when omitting the end of a sentence, the punctuation at the end of the sentence must still follow the ellipses. This means that when the sentence ends in a period, the attorney will need to insert a total of four periods (e.g., “If land becomes disqualified on or after July 1, it will be assessed as farmland . . . .”).

  2. Introductory signals (Rule 1.3)

    When using more than one signal in a citation string, signals of the same type¾supportive, comparative, contradictory, or background¾must be strung together within a single citation sentence and separated by semicolons. On the other hand, signals of different types must be grouped in different citation sentences. Here’s an example: See Hope Vill., Inc. v. Dep’t of Revenue, 17 OTR 370 (2004); cf. Polk Cnty. v State Dep’t of Revenue, 14 OTR 566 (1999). See generally Gangle v. Dep’t of Revenue, 13 OTR 343 (1995). But see Catherine’s Residence, Inc. v. Dep’t of Revenue, State of Or, 14 OTR 500, 502 (1998).

  3. Signals as verbs (Rule 2.1(d))

    The word “see” should be italicized when it is being used as a signal, but not when it is part of a sentence (e.g., “For further discussion of special assessments, see chapter 57.”)

More next week . . .

Lesser-known Punctuation Rules

By Ian Pisarcik, Legal Publications Attorney Editor

Let’s start the week off right with some lesser-known punctuation rules.

  1. Punctuation and closing quotation marks

    Most people agree that periods and commas precede closing quotation marks (let’s forget the loveably misguided British for a moment). However, confusion abounds when colons and semicolons enter the mix. To clear things up, colons and semicolons (along with question marks and exclamation points) follow closing quotation marks unless they appear in the original quoted matter. Moreover, all punctuation should appear outside quotation marks when distinguishing words to be typed. For example:

    President Barak Obama invited me to the presidential inauguration to recite the lyrics to my hit song “Peace in the World”; instead I lectured the nation on the rules of punctuation. I was able to record a video of the event before a large man with dark sunglasses grabbed me by the shoulder and asked me how I expected to make any friends. To view the video, go to my homepage, click on the search function, and type “Ian attends the inaugural address”.

  2. Using a comma before “such as” and “including”

    Many people automatically place a comma before “such as” and “including.” But a comma is only necessary when followed by a nonrestrictive, nonessential phrase or clause. For example:

    Songs such as “Hands on the Wheel” and “Can I Sleep in Your Arms” appear on Willie Nelson’s 1975 album.

    Some songs, such as “Hands on the Wheel” and “Can I Sleep in Your Arms,” are commonly referred to as old-country or classic-country songs.

  3. Punctuating one-word questions

    When a question consists of a single word, the question mark can be omitted. For clarity, the word should be italicized. For example:

    Joe asked himself why.

  4. Hyphenating phrasal adjectives

    Phrasal adjectives are almost always hyphenated. As Bryan Garner put it, “[I]f two or more consecutive words make sense only when understood together as an adjective modifying a noun, those words should be hyphenated.” Thus, “high-school dropout” and “first-year graduate student” are proper. Naturally, there are exceptions, including when a phrase contains a proper noun (e.g., “the famous World War II battle”).

  5. The interrobang

    To round off all this punctuation fun, I thought I’d introduce a lesser-known punctuation mark. Ladies and gentlemen: the interrobang The interrobang is an overlapping question mark and exclamation point. It was invented in 1962 and managed to make its way onto many typewriters and into several dictionaries. It even made its way into the default typefaces in the Apple and Microsoft operating systems. While its rise is admirable, I wouldn’t expect it to see it on BarBooks™ any time soon.

The Power of Typeface

By Ian Pisarcik, Legal Publications Attorney Editor

How many animals of each species did Moses take on the Ark?

If you answered “two,” you’re wrong, but you’re not alone. According to a study published in The
Journal of the International Social Cognition Network, 88 percent of people failed to spot the mistake (Noah was the actor in the biblical story). But here’s the interesting part, when a less-common typeface was used, the number of people who failed to spot the mistake fell from 88 percent to 53 percent.

The conclusion of the University of Michigan researchers, as well as numerous other researchers who have conducted similar studies, is that a familiar typeface enables readers to skim effortlessly over words. On the other hand, an unfamiliar or hard-to-read typeface forces the brain to invest greater time and attention. The result is that readers are more likely to spot anomalies.

I observe this phenomenon on a small scale almost every day. When I’m reading a passage that seems amiss for no immediately discernible reason, I’ll often change the typeface. The change, nearly without fail, enables me to quickly diagnose the problem.

The University of Michigan study is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to typography research. A study conducted by researchers at Mindlab International found that people who ate soup ordered from a menu written in Lucida Calligraphy were more likely to enjoy the soup than those who ordered the same soup from a menu written in Courier. In another study, Errol Morris (with help from Cornell University Professor of Psychology David Dunning) found that people who read text printed in Baskerville typeface were more likely to believe the text than text printed in many other typefaces, including Georgia and Helvetica.

The body of research surrounding typeface may not help you write a brief or any other court document that has strict requirements, but it may come in handy when creating a website, sending an e-mail, or designing a business card. Just imagine all that power.

*As an interesting side note, typeface and font are not synonymous despite common usage.

30 Years of Legal Editing

By Cheryl McCord, Legal Publications Attorney Editor

I am a legal editor. For over 30 years, I have edited legal resources used and relied upon by Oregon lawyers. Over the years, I have seen a lot of mind-boggling changes in the editorial process. Frankly, probably because of my advancing age, it’s difficult for me to remember “the way we were.” I will, however, make a feeble attempt to do so.

The Old Days

When I began my career as a legal editor, we paid law students to check the citations in chapters (e.g., running heads for case names) and to alert us to issues that required further analysis. The clerks came to our office to check out chapters (which the authors had sent to us by Pony Express) and then they went to the law library to work on them. They would have to run around the library to get—and put back—multitudes of volumes of reporters, treatises, statutory compilations, and other resources, and then physically turn pages to check an author’s citations. (They had to be physically fit, like firefighters.) Using red ink pens, they made changes and notes on the manuscript pages. After completing a chapter, the clerk returned the manuscript to a legal editor.

The editor then made editorial changes on that same manuscript using a different-colored ink pen (I preferred purple). The editor looked at Oregon cases and statutes while reviewing the legal accuracy of the author’s statements. Inserts and revisions that were too lengthy to interline on the manuscript were hand-written (often illegibly) on separate pieces of paper and attached to the relevant pages. The resulting dog-eared and wrinkled product became a collage of different colors, arrows, doodles (flowers were my specialty), editorial symbols, and materials (including coffee stains, remnants of what the law clerk had for lunch, and other unknown substances—I’m sure the brown smudges were chocolate).

Then our secretary typed the inserts and the messy pages, and used the cut-and-paste method to put the edited manuscript together. This was a very time-consuming (and sloppy) process. We then photocopied this conglomeration to send it to the author, who reviewed our edits and made additional marks on the pages. The chapter was then ready to be sent to an outside typesetter. When the print version was returned to us, we had to proofread the manuscript carefully, line by line. AARRGGHH!!

One thing I’ve learned over the years is that everything is always evolving into something else. Like everything in life, our editorial process has undergone changes that have been so gradual and imperceptible that we didn’t even know they were occurring (such as our hair color—mine is now white; when did THAT happen?).

The Future Is Here

With the invention of personal computers, we began to type our own inserts, but our word-processing specialist had to incorporate the inserts and hand-written editorial changes into the digital version of the chapter. Then, with the advent of online legal resources, we attorney editors enjoyed great access to many different kinds of legal materials and began doing our own cite-checking online. It was amazing—we could sit at our desks and visit many law libraries without having to jump up and down and run down the aisles between bookshelves! We thought that our editorial lives couldn’t get much better than this. But that evolutionary process kept on truckin’.

And then, lo and behold, we discovered digital editing! (Yep, just like Al Gore invented the Internet.) It was miraculous! (Well, okay, I have to admit that I resisted this change. To begin digital editing in MS Word seemed overwhelming—it was so different and revolutionary and there was so much to learn! It’s harder for my old eyes to read words on a computer screen than words on paper. I even questioned my inner being—was I an attorney editor or a word-processing non-specialist? Woe is me.)

The evolution of our editorial process has given life to a better world of editing. I believe that digital editing, coupled with online legal researching by our attorney editors, have improved the quality and accuracy of our publications. We now even have dual computer monitors to enhance the process (one screen for the chapter we’re editing, and one screen for online legal resources).

Digital editing is also a huge benefit to our volunteer authors. The track-changes feature of digital editing in MS Word enables them to readily see where any changes were made to the chapter. (Deletions are noted in boxes in the left-hand margin and additions are marked in red with a double underline.) Rather than destroying trees in order to mail hard copies of edited chapters to authors, we now e-mail chapters to them. Authors seem to appreciate receiving an electronic version of their chapter with tracked changes; it saves them time in reviewing our work.

Some Things Never Change

Although the manner in which I accomplish the finished product has changed over the years, my essential role as a legal editor has remained the same. Editing a legal manuscript involves not only reviewing the substantive accuracy of the author’s work, but also checking the work for spelling, grammar, consistency, and conformity to an in-house style manual. The legal editor is also the person who reviews the chapter from the reader’s perspective, ensuring that the reader will understand what the author has written. An important part of the legal editor’s job is to determine whether the author has left any unanswered questions in the reader’s mind. The editor serves as a link between the authors (who are usually quite knowledgeable about the subject matter) and the readers (who may not be).

As I said before, everything is always evolving into something else. What will attorney editors be like in the future? (I know I’ll be even older.) What if attorney editors evolve into a new species with computer-like brains so that they can do editing and cite-checking in their own minds? At least that would make it easier to work from home.

He Said, She Said

By Ian Pisarcik, Legal Publications Attorney Editor

One of my favorite cartoons depicts a young female student standing next to a tall male teacher. Both are staring at a chalkboard. The chalkboard reads: Stone Age Man, Bronze Age Man, and Iron Age Man. The speech bubble extending from the young girls mouth asks: “Did they have women in those days?”

“Gender-neutral language is achieved by avoiding the use of ‘gendered generics (male or female nouns and pronouns used to refer to both men and women).” This is easier said than done. But so is carrying a tune, and that doesn’t stop nine out of ten I-5 drivers from pulling their lips back and pretending they’re Mick Jagger.

The Oregon Appellate Courts Style Manual states that “[g]ender-neutral terms are preferred, and gender-based pronouns are avoided except when referring to a specific person.” The style guide suggests using “he or she” only when all other constructions fail. The Oregon State Bar Legal Publications Department asks authors to avoid gender-based pronouns as well, but actually recommends the “he or she” construction.

In most cases, this is straightforward (albeit, a little clumsy). The defendant has the burden of raising his Confrontation Clause objection becomes the defendant has the burden of raising his or her Confrontation Clause objection, or the defendant has the burden of raising the defendant’s Confrontation Clause objection.

But things can get tricky when writers decide to alternate between masculine and feminine pronouns. Not only does this tend to confuse the reader, but a recent study conducted by researchers at New Mexico State University found that (1) readers perceive alternating pronouns to be just as gender-biased as masculine pronouns, and (2) readers consistently rate writing featuring alternating pronouns as lower in quality than text with generic masculine pronouns.

Further complicating things are the countless terms that feature the word man. Some are easy to spot and fix: policeman should become police officer, serviceman should become serviceperson. But, there are others that are not as easy to spot or fix: manpower, manhole, ombudsman, penmanship, freshman, and middleman among them.

Achieving gender-neutral writing takes some effort. But it is an effort that most states are making and that OSB Legal Publications wholeheartedly embraces. And the fact that the United States Supreme Court lags behind in this regard should serve only as further motivation for lawyers concerned with eliminating subtle sexism in the field.