I ran across the idea of a legal writing checklist at Legal Writing Prof Blog
. I decided to draft one of my own just for laughs and chuckles, which is as follows.
(1) Scan through the entire document. Is it pleasing to the eye? Or is it intimidating to the reader? Can the reader understand what your point is by the document’s organization alone?
(2) What is it that you were trying to say in one sentence or paragraph? Did you say it and say it early?
(3) Read it aloud. Does it flow or is it clunky?
(4) Do you drop your reader anywhere by failing to transition from each sentence and paragraph to the next?
(5) Does each word, sentence, and paragraph do real
work? If not, can you condense or delete a word, sentence, or paragraph?
(6) Check the readability statistics for the percent of active/passive sentences and sentence length. Shoot for no more than 15-20% passive voice and average
sentence length of 20 words per sentence.
(7) Ask somebody else to review it. Ask the reviewer to find three ways to improve it. (Hat tip to Bryan Garner)