What Should I Call the Third Edition of MSCD?

My attention has been turning to the third edition of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting, and I’d appreciate your input on a vital issue: What should I call it?

The current title is fine, but it’s generic. And it’s not conducive to being shortened—MSCD leaves something to be desired as a moniker.

The obvious thing to do would be to following in the footsteps of, you guessed it, Bryan Garner. For example, his A Dictionary of Modern Legal Usage morphed into Garner’s Dictionary of Legal Usage. But Adams’s is awkward, making The Adams the likeliest option for grafting my identity on to the title. That would allow people to say, “What does Adams say?” I’d refer to the book as TAM. But the title wasn’t exactly short to begin with. And do I risk looking like a raging egomaniac?

Readers, you can have your say in the comments and in the following poll.

Updated 8:30 a.m. EDT, August 11, 2012: It’s fun to consider alternatives, but realistically, my only options, aside from keeping the current title, are the first three listed in the poll. Using a title too different from the current one could result in people thinking that I’ve written an entirely new book.



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.

22 thoughts on “What Should I Call the Third Edition of MSCD?”

  1. The Contract Style Manual is short and descriptive. Another idea is to follow the tradition of using the book’s color in the name. Seeing that Harvard has dibs on the color blue, you could go with The Royal Blue Book, since you’ve had a brush with royalty. Of course, that might play into the egomaniac theme also.

    • I second Brian’s suggested title. I also like that the acronym has three letters rather than four. The title could also be lengthened to Adams’s Contract Style Manual but still be referred to as the CSM.

      Alternatively, I also like Adams’s Manual of Contract Style (MCS).

      • I’m with Mark on this one. Clean, classic interface. Right up there with Williston.

        And then you can bequeath it! “Throckmorton’s Adams on Contract Drafting”!

    • By the time the third edition comes out sometime next year, it will have been more than four years since the second edition. That’s a respectable interlude.

      And sure, the world of contract drafting changes at a glacial pace. But my understanding of it has been evolving a good deal faster.

  2. “The Adams Manual” variations made me think of The Addams Family ….

    I like Adams on Contract Drafting, but even if you left the title unchanged, eventually your readers will probably just refer to it as “Adams,” in the same way as lawyers (well, litigators) and law students refer to Wright & Miller, and IP lawyers refer to Chisum (patents) and Nimmer (copyrights) and McCarthy (trademarks).

    As to Bryan Garner, while new lawyers and law students might refer to his version as “Garner’s,” I suspect we old geezers will continue refer to it as “Black’s.” 

  3. If the practical choices for change are the top three, and you rule out “Adams’s,” the practical choices are numbers 1 and 3, which differ in mentioning or not mentioning “style.” 

    The benefit of #1 is that it maintains more continuity with the earlier editions, but since you are determined to send the initialism MSCD to the boneyard in favor of TAM, then prefer the shorter title, #3, although you might prefer the preposition “of,” as in “Chicago Manual of [not “for”] Style.”

    Final answer: one vote for “The Adams Manual of Contract Drafting.”

    As for egomania, I think the inclusion of the author’s name in the title is fitting for the man whose largest contribution is to point out that the emperor has no clothes, that is, that continuation of traditional contract usages is not rationally justified. Maybe the next largest contribution is the idea that contract usages should and can be largely standardized. Much that is fruitful has followed and will follow from both insights. Putting his name on his own pathbreaking book is a very small thing for getting a movement rolling. Kudos to the ABA, too, for publishing the book.

    Isaac Asimov referred to his own ego situation as “cheerful self-appreciation.”

    If anything goes, my favorite is “Adams on Contract Drafting.”

    Here’s another thought: since TAM is likely to be more than 400 pages, why not also publish a mini-TAM of, say, 99 pages, modeled on the Dummies’ “Quick Reference” series? That would offer a chance for a whole new round of naming choices: “Adams’s Sparse Advice on Contract Drafting.”


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