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In order to and other inanities

As I put final touches on the second part to 10 takeaways from Typography for Lawyers, I wanted to address an issue that – though discrete – can be applied by any legal writer: we must have a sharp eye for, and aggressively eliminate, wordy phrases (Garner’s term) like in order to, which always jumps off the page of any brief I read as the waste of laser-printer ink.

I don’t understand why any legal writer would use in order to, unless he must use it because he must quote authority that contains it.

What’s wrong with in order to, you ask?

It could be written to without losing any effect. Three words = one word. It’s that simple. Garner’s Redbook (pp. 159-60) lists in order to in a section where he identifies other wordy phrases that must be pared down, such as in light of the fact that (because); due to the fact that (because); make reference to (refer), etc. For other authority, I refer you to Garner’s Legal Writing in Plain English (pp. 40-41). There are many other non-Garner authorities (he cites them all); this problem, unfortunately, isn’t new.

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