In legal writing, there is a certain crisp and formal tone that you have to follow due to the nature of the content. There are some things that are fine in other types of writing, like blogs and marketing content, but they are completely unacceptable in legal write-ups.
In this blog post, we are going to talk about some tips that you can follow to keep your tone formal when writing legal content.
Table of Contents
1. No slang usage
In legal writing, you have to avoid using slang at all costs. It sounds easy enough to say that but let’s talk about what slang actually is so you know just what to avoid.
Slang is essentially what we use to refer to phrases and words that have a specific meaning attached to them which is different to what the phrases and words literally mean. These words and phrases are given these types of meanings due to cultural or societal norms and trends.
For example, the phrase “hanging out with someone” means “spending time with them.”
However, the literal meaning of this phrase is something else.
In legal writing, you have to avoid all the language that falls in this category. You have to use the correct and conventional terms for everything.
Here is an example of a sentence that would be inappropriate in formal writing and one that would be apropos.
“The reports in the document show that the company in question is indeed the bee’s knees.”
“The reports in the document that the company in question is indeed renowned and reputable.”
2. Don’t use contractions
Contractions are the grammatical instances where two words are merged together for brevity and the separation is shown with an apostrophe.
For example, when someone has to say “I have” in shortened form, they use contractions to say “I’ve.”
Merging words in this manner is typically done in informal settings. There isn’t a particular rule or principle that concretely attributes them to informal use, but there is still something about shortening words that is not suitable in legal writing.
Here are some examples of common contractions:
- Saying “We’ve” instead of “We have”
- Saying “They’re” instead of “They are”
- Saying “Would’ve” instead of “Would have”
And so on.
You have to use the full forms of the words in legal writing.
3. Avoid using colloquially abbreviated versions of words
When we say “don’t use abbreviated words,” we don’t refer to abbreviations like NASA or WHO. These types of abbreviations can be used in legal writing since they are acronyms used to make referring easier.
However, there are some words that are grammatically and spelling-wise correct but are derived from bigger words, which are also commonly used and are grammatically correct.
For example, the word “phone” is derived from the bigger word “telephone.” However, both are fine to use. The same goes for saying “lab” for “laboratory” and “intro” for “introduction.
In legal writing, however, you have to stick to using the full form of the words. They make the write-up look professional and formal.
4. Don’t make your sentences too short incessantly
Here is an example. This is a sentence. It is short. It looks informal and casual.
Consider the example given above. It comprises four separate sentences spanning a total of 16 words.
These types of short sentences don’t look appropriate in legal content. They are fine to use in conversation and when writing informal content.
Using the same example above, if we had to lengthen it and make it suitable for use in legal writing, here is what it would look like:
Here is an example of a sentence that looks short and informal.
How can you make your legal writing formal after writing it?
The steps that we’ve mentioned above are some things that you can do while writing or before writing to make sure that your write-up comes out crisp and formal.
But what should you do if you have already written some content in an informal tone and you want to make it formal instead?
Funny as it may sound, a good solution to this problem is to use an online paraphrasing tool.
Sure, you have to be a bit picky about which one you use, but if you’re careful enough, it can work out great. Here is an example:
Mind you, in the image above, the input given is bizarrely full of slang, but even then, you can see how much the tool has toned it down. That is, by the way, a popular online paraphrasing tool called Paraphrase Online.
You can use any other online AI-based paraphraser as well. Just be sure to read, check, and edit the content yourself for good measure.
So there you have it.
Those are some tips and steps that you can follow to make your legal writing formal. If you have trouble doing everything right the first time around, you can always paraphrase the content using a high-quality AI-powered tool. It sounds unusual but we did prove our point in the section above.