Wayne’s document-design cheat sheet
Transparency can be beautiful

Cast of characters

If you’re telling a story involving many players, how do you help the reader keep the players straight? You might do what Judge John R. Brown did in Grigsby v. Coastal Marine Service of Texas, Inc., 412 F.2d 1011 (5th Cir. 1969) (copy in Word format here). In a case involving 17 characters, he listed the entire cast in footnote 3, providing each player’s full name and shorthand name used in the opinion. For individuals, he also listed each one’s employer. This technique yielded two benefits. First, it spared readers the dreaded parenthetical accompanying each character’s introduction (e.g. “... Coastal Marine Service of Texas, Inc. (“Coastal”)”). Second, it gave readers one sure and easily accessible place to find who’s who.



I love this. Seems like Bryan Garner may have been influenced by the authoring judge.

Greg May

I usually avoid those "dreaded" parentheticals by using a shorthand designation so obvious that it can't be mistaken for anything else. Once you've given the full name of the company as "Backscratcher Industries, Inc.," the reader is going to know that when you subsequently refer to "Backscratcher," at least if you do so very soon after the initial reference, you're talking about the company . . .as long as you're not also using the generic word "backscratcher" to refer to . . . backscratchers.

Also, though it's not required by our briefing rules, the justices don't seem to mind a separately headed "parties" section near the beginning of the brief. I think that's preferable to a footnote, anyway.

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