LawProse Lesson 346: The Quotation Sandwich.

LawProse Lesson 346: The Quotation Sandwich.

Legal writers tend to know (but not to heed the idea) that block quotations get skipped. And before Bryan Garner’s book The Winning Brief (1st ed. 1996), almost nobody in law had noted that to get quotations read, you need an informative, eye-catching lead-in.

That is, you don’t simply say, “The court stated,” or “Rule 54(d) states,” and then plop a quotation on the page. You must say something to entice the reader to read the quotation—something like “The court stated that the SEC had impermissibly intruded on legitimate areas of state regulation.” A colon follows, and then the quotation.

The quotation then bears you out, and you’ve enhanced your credibility.

Otherwise, readers tend to skip.

A “quotation sandwich” involves a top and a bottom layer. It’s the only way to weave the quotation into the fabric of your writing—without discontinuities.

So the lead-in might say, “The statute explicitly requires three elements to satisfy standing: . . .” Then the block quote, followed by: “The second and third elements are notably distinct: the second requires direct harm, and the third requires a loss of more than $10,000.” Something like that. You paraphrase closely in your own words, not merely repeating the words of the statute. Otherwise, you’ll bore.

The idea has caught on in legal-writing texts, as so many of Bryan Garner’s innovations have. But still 95% of block quotations are poorly introduced in legal writing.

That’s one small example of a Garner lesson that can change almost every page that you write. If you aspire to be a skillful legal writer, there’s no better way than to experience the real thing. Take a LawProse seminar. It’ll mark a major change in your effectiveness. Writers are made, not born. What are you waiting for? 

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Attend the most popular CLE seminar of all time. More than 215,000 people—including lawyers, judges, law clerks, and paralegals—have benefited since the early 1990s. You'll learn the keys to professional writing and acquire no-nonsense techniques to make your letters, memos, and briefs more powerful.

You'll also learn what doesn't work and why—know-how gathered through Professor Garner's unique experience in training lawyers at the country's top law firms, state and federal courts, government agencies, and Fortune 500 companies.

Professor Garner gives you the keys to make the most of your writing aptitude—in letters, memos, briefs, and more. The seminar covers five essential skills for persuasive writing:

  • framing issues that arrest the readers' attention;
  • cutting wordiness that wastes readers' time;
  • using transitions deftly to make your argument flow;
  • quoting authority more effectively; and
  • tackling your writing projects more efficiently.

He teaches dozens of techniques that make a big difference. Most important, he shows you what doesn't work—and why—and how to cultivate skillfulness.

Register to reserve your spot today.

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