Legal Writing

Low-Tech Proofreading

Redlines, spell checking, auto-numbering, auto-capitalization, auto-page numbering . . . has high-tech document creation made us lazy proofreaders?  For some great low-tech proofreading tips, see Beyond Redlines and Spell-Check: Proofreading Tips from the Dark Ages (PDF Download) from Delaware attorney John J. Paschetto, published in the February 2008 issue of The Practical Lawyer magazine

Hat Tip: Legal Writing Prof Blog.


  • Mister Thorne

    Seems as if nobody proofed the title of the piece. Either that, or someone forgot that articles, conjunctions, and prepositions are set l.c. in titles.

  • Greg May

    Mister Thorne,

    You’ve just hit upon a great point. That is a rule I try to live by even in my blog post titles, though less strictly so than in my argumentative headings in briefs. And I will confess that sometimes, i intentionally violate the rule to give the heading or title a better “look.” (Which certainly isn’t the case with the title of his piece — nothing sticks out more than a capitalized “A” in a title. I wonder if he cringed when he saw it in print.)

    One rule I’ve run across is that prepositions of 5 or more letters should be capitalized. That rule is from the California Style Manual, “A Handbook of Legal Style for California Courts and Lawyers,” according to its subtitle, and the generally accepted authority in this state for writing submitted to the courts.

    The CSM also says that words following a hyphen should not be capitalized. Thus, accordin to the CSM, the title of this post should be “Low-tech Proofreading” instead of “Low-Tech Proofreading.” I’ll admit that rule is one I regularly and intentionally disregard, as I did in the title of this post, because I think the lower case looks so out of place that it is a distraction.


  • The Complex Litigator

    I understand the irony (and humor) of observing that an article about proofreading doesn’t demonstrate the process. But when we get out to the frosty edge where we have to remember capitalization rules for preposition based on word length, the rules begin to hijack the purpose of the writing in the first instance – communication of ideas.