Monday, October 02, 2006

The memo: issue statements

Sentence structure in issue statements
The traditional way to structure an issue statement was in a single sentence beginning with the word whether. Many legal memos written today still contain issue statements structured that way. The whether style is less than ideal because it requires the writer to frame the issue in a single sentence, and that sentence, because it begins with whether, is a fragment.

Even if we abandon the whether structure, tradition still calls for the issue statement to be framed in a single sentence. The single-sentence issue statement is still common today, even though it routinely produces issue statements that are single sentences of more than 50, 70, or 90 words.

This book recommends a multi-sentence issue statement of two or three sentences with a total of 50 to 80 words.

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