Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A Grammar Lesson for Justice Kennedy?

The U.S. Supreme Court today issued a decision in Stoneridge Investment Partners v. Scientific Atlanta, Inc., No. 06-43 (Jan. 15, 2008). 

On the first page of the majority decision, Justice Kennedy hyphenates "Stoneridge" like this:  "Ston-eridge."  Not Stone-ridge, but Ston-eridge.

So, Justice Kennedy, a quick reminder.

Hyphens are used to break words at the end of line.  As my Holt Handbook tells me: "Whenever possible, avoid breaking a word at the end of a line; if you must do so, divide words only between syllables."

Fellow legal writing professors:  If you would like to share today's decision (and grammar lesson) with your students, you can find the slip opinion at  http://www.supremecourtus.gov/opinions/07pdf/06-43.pdf



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For some reason, lawyers aren't keen on contractions or on hyphens to break lines. How do others feel about these things? What do publishers do?

Go to the bookstore. Find an attractive book or magazine. Take a look at how the type is set.

Chances are, you'll find justified type, hyphens used to break lines (on syllables), consistent spacing between words, and a number of other things (like serifs in the body).

Do you want your briefs to look sharp? Then copy an existing design. Find a book or magazine that looks sharp to you, and set your briefs the same way.

Posted by: Mister Thorne | Jan 15, 2008 5:23:19 PM

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