Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Tips for a brief's table of contents: how to outline

In recent years, I’ve found that some students don’t understand how to outline.  For example, they may not realize that subsection “A” under “I” should develop the idea in “I.” Of course, this presents a problem when they start drafting their point headings and tables of contents for their briefs.  So, in addition to spending some class time on outlining, I refer students to Purdue’s Online Writing Lab, which has a good explanation of outlining.


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Professor Fischer,

I don't know if you've heard about our product, Annotate for Word Legal Writing Edition, but since you're already using the Purdue OWL as a resource, you might be interested. Annotate LWE is a Word menu ribbon with a database of more than 350 pre-written comments that LW profs can add to student memos and briefs with just one click. All of the database comments were written by Mitch Nathanson, Professor of Legal Writing at Villanova Law. Users can customize these comments and add hundreds of their own to their database.

The existing Annotate comments cover not only the relevant legal issues, but grammar, organization and logic as well. Many of the existing comments contain links to the Purdue Online Writing Lab and other helpful sites, so students can instantly access help from within their documents as they read over your feedback. When you spot an outlining error in a brief, you can hit one button to place your comment along with the link to the OWL page on outlining--the upshot is that you save time grading while helping that student to remember key facets of organizing a brief.

You can find out more about about Annotate for Legal Writing at

Posted by: Bob | Feb 18, 2011 6:05:02 AM

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