MSCD4 Now in Production

I just sent my minder at the American Bar Association the manuscript for the fourth edition of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting. All I can say is EXPLETIVE DELETED.

It took about four months to weave a mass of disparate writings into the text of the third edition, then sand and polish the whole so the seams don’t show. Some random thoughts:

The fourth edition is to the third edition what the third edition was the second edition: a big upgrade. In fact, that’s what each new edition has accomplished. And this manuscript is in better shape than previous manuscripts. The cross-references are in order. The index is great.

I weighs in at 555 pages, in Word. (Hey, is that auspicious?) Let’s see if it’s too big for Wire-O binding.

I said in my most recent newsletter (subscribe here) that MSCD long ago left earth orbit and is now entering the Kuiper belt. By that I meant that with each edition I’ve ventured further into uncharted territory. A given analysis was novel in the first edition? Well, the fourth edition likely explores not only nuances of that analysis, but also nuances of nuances. It’s at one and the same time massively esoteric and entirely relevant.

I know there will be a fifth edition. Heck, something I wrote about on the blog last week made it into the fourth edition, so I’ll keep discovering new stuff. But I suspect that future editions will be less ambitious. This universe is finite.

My volunteer readers helped enormously by spotting all sorts of different things that needed attention. I particularly appreciated that often a comment not only brought a glitch to my attention, it also prompted me to take another look at the broader context.

Last week I ran the manuscript through WordRake. It churned away for about three hours, and I spent more than two days working through the resulting suggestions, but it was worth it. Although I ignored about 95% of the suggestions, the rest allowed me to eliminate repeated instances of wordy phrases. Replacing take into account with consider isn’t a monumental change, but add a few other such changes and make them all a dozen times each, and you start to pay attention. And WordRake’s suggestions, like volunteer comments, acted as entry points in the manuscript, offering a new perspective that I wouldn’t have had if I had simply read it once again.

The production process will last a few months. I still have to update the appendix, but apart from that my work will mostly consist of checking stuff and discussing design issues. We’re aiming for a September publication.

Once the book is out, for me it will recede into the background. It’s a means to an end, or rather ends. I’m focused on achieving those ends.

About the author

Ken Adams is the leading authority on how to say clearly whatever you want to say in a contract. He’s author of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting, and he offers online and in-person training around the world. He’s also chief content officer of LegalSifter, Inc., a company that combines artificial intelligence and expertise to assist with review of contracts.

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