A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting

Ken Adams is the author of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting.

It’s the only authoritative guide to the building blocks of contract language, and it’s in widespread use internationally. In this review, the Law Society Gazette says it’s “extraordinary.” The first edition was published by the American Bar Association in 2004; the fourth edition was published in 2017. The fifth edition will be published in early 2023.

You can buy print and ebook versions of the fourth edition from this page of the ABA Web Store. (If you want it sent to Canada, see this blog post; for information about how to use the ebook, see this blog post.) You can read the ABA ebook on a Kindle; see this post. If you have any questions about buying the book from the ABA, please call the ABA at (800) 285-2221 (weekdays between 9:00 am and 6:00 pm Eastern Time (US)).

You can buy the print version at Amazon, here. Historically, Amazon has offered the book at a discount, but the price tends to fluctuate. The Kindle and iBooks versions are no longer available.


“The so-called ‘art’ of contract drafting had few standards upon which we could rely, at least until MSCD. Ken Adams has filled the void in legal standards for contracting, and none too soon.”

– Michael Fleming


“Ken’s MSCD should be a mandatory part of the professional training of commercial lawyers. If you want to draft better for your clients, read it.”

– Neil Brown


“I promote Ken’s MSCD on social media much more than I should, mostly because my life as a contract practitioner would be easier if opposing parties routinely used it.”

– François Coppens


Extracts, Reviews

Here are the table of contents, foreword, preface, introduction, and index to the fourth edition. And here’s an extract of the back-cover text of the fourth edition:

With A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting, Kenneth A. Adams has created a uniquely in-depth survey of the building blocks of contract language. First published in 2004, it offers those who draft, review, negotiate, or interpret contracts an alternative to the dysfunction of traditional contract language and the inertia and flawed conventional wisdom that perpetuate it. This manual has become a vital resource throughout the legal profession, in the United States and internationally.

This is the fourth edition of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting. It contains almost one hundred pages of new materials addressing many topics, making it even more authoritative and essential.

This manual’s focus remains how to express contract terms in prose that is free of the archaisms, redundancies, ambiguities, and other problems that afflict traditional contract language. With exceptional analysis and an unmatched level of practical detail, Mr. Adams highlights common sources of confusion and recommends clearer and more concise alternatives. This manual is organized to facilitate easy reference, and it illustrates its analysis with numerous examples. Consult it to save time in drafting and negotiation and to reduce the risk of dispute.

See reviews of the fourth edition by the Law Society Gazette, Casey Flaherty, John Gillies, Jason Steed, and Charles Drayson. Go here for this August 2020 Business Law Today account of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting after 16 years. And see reviews of the third edition by Mark Anderson, Brian Rogers, Professor Daniel D. Barnhizer, Dean Irma S. Russell, Daniel Schwartz, Luis Villa, and Matthias M. Edrich.

If you’re familiar with the third edition, you might find of interest the table of contents of the fourth edition, marked to show changes from the third edition (here).