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The Scrivener: Listlessly

May 4, 2015
Elizabeth Scott Moïse

Reprinted with permission from SC Lawyer

A friend asked if I would write a column on lists and how to use and punctuate them. Although I usually love getting writing questions, I have to admit that this is a question I did not want to answer because authorities differ greatly on the correct way to handle lists, and their explanations are convoluted. I even found myself cleaning out the cat box as an excuse to put off writing the column. After considering that lists come up in writing almost daily (and where would our PowerPoints be without them?), I tackled the subject head on. Guess what? Lists turned out to be a lot more fun than cleaning cat boxes. 

General Rules

Lists can be vertical or horizontal, but the principal rule for both is that every item in the list must be parallel. In other words, the items can be comprised of words, phrases, or complete sentences, and they must all be the same construction. 

  • Robbie's day was strictly planned: writing a summary judgment brief in his insurance case, preparing for an expert deposition in the Norris case, and drafting a client status letter in the Phillips case. 

NOT

  • Robbie's day was already strictly planned: he planned to write a brief, preparing for an expert deposition in the Norris case, and draft a client status letter in the Phillips case. 

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