16 books judges should own if they want to write well

Here is a link to an article from the National Judicial College.  Yes, 16 books you need to own.

By Julie Oseid and Randall Tietjen

Three conventional dictionaries

  1. Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (10th edition)
  2. The Oxford English Dictionary (5th edition)
  3. The American Heritage Dictionary (6th edition)

One legal dictionary

  1. Black’s Law Dictionary (10th edition)

Two English usage books

  1. Modern English Usage by H.W. Fowler
  2. Garner’s Modern English Usage

One legal usage book

  1. Garner’s Dictionary of Legal Usage

Three style guides

  1. The Chicago Manual of Style. Good advice on punctuation and style, plus handy information about copyright and fair use.
  2. The Redbook: A Manual on Legal Style by Bryan Garner
  3. Plain English for Lawyers by Richard Wydick

Beyond the reference books

  1. Elements of Style by Strunk & White. This book has likely been on your bookshelf since college, but it is well worth revisiting with some regularity.
  2. On Writing Well by William Zinsser. This book will make you want to be a better writer.
  3. On Writing by Stephen King. Yes, that Stephen King.
  4. The Sense of Style by Steven Pinker
  5. 30 Days to Better English by Norman Lewis. Good for improving your vocabulary.
  6. Typography for Lawyers by Matthew Butterick. It explains how effective communication depends on document design, including how words look on a page.


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