Should I Flag Changes to the Fourth Edition of MSCD?

I’m writing the preface to the fourth edition of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting. Normally it’s where I’d describe what’s new, but there’s so much new material that listing what’s new would clog up the works. And I don’t know how helpful people would find it.

In the third edition I mostly said whether a given chapter was largely unchanged, slightly expanded, significantly expanded, or extensively expanded, with some specifics included. I’m not sure how helpful that was either.

So I’m tempted just to say that there’s a lot of new material and let readers find it for themselves.

I could put online a version marked to show changes, in a bunch of no-print, no-copy PDFs, but that seems cumbersome. Or I could mention a web page that lists the number of every paragraph that’s largely or entirely new and what they address.

What do you think?

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.

13 thoughts on “Should I Flag Changes to the Fourth Edition of MSCD?”

  1. Rather than listing all of the significant modifications, what about placing an asterisk or some other hopefully-unobtrusive-yet-discoverable character by the subtitle of each significantly new part? One downside is that that alone doesn’t indicate where the new section ends, but you could also put the same character at the end. Or consider the asterisk a call to action where old readers would refer to MSCD3 to determine the extent of the change.

      • Yeah, online would be good too. I agree with Vance’s comments and like Josh’s idea for protecting access to the online version.

  2. As someone who read the third edition, which was the first I’d bought, cover to cover, I’m looking forward to the fourth edition and hoping for an easy way to identify it. But once I’ve reviewed the new material once, I won’t care when it was added when using the book as a reference. So I would not build it into the body of the book as Sterling suggests. Of the options you identify, I would prefer the online version with the marked changes. You could protect that, so only people with a code found in the hard copy could access it. Even just a list of the new and revised sections would be helpful.

    • Add my vote to this idea – but I feel you need to think about how to protect your work beyond the measures you suggest. Maybe offer access to anyone who emails you with a proof of purchase of the 4th Ed.

  3. One thing you might do in the introduction is indicate those (fairly few, I think) places where your new material takes a different position on particular usages or principles from the earlier edition.

  4. I’d opt for letting readers find it themselves. However, in discrete cases such as Usages where your views have changed, a footnote would work best for this reader.

  5. Hi Ken, how long until the fourth edition is published? I was just about to purchase the third edition but might wait if the fourth is coming out soon.

  6. I am profoundly late to this blog post. Did you ever end up publishing any guidance on changes to the new edition?

    I started a process of rereading cover to cover, especially to update my catchword list and some other references. But I’m no longer the young, underengaged chicken I once was. I didn’t make it.

    A cheat sheet would be nice!


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