Have you noticed how many financial documents have unnecessary parenthetical notes? I mean phrases like the XYZ Fund (“The Fund”) or The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (“The Index”). Those parenthetical references strike me as unnecessary. However, I assumed that lawyers insisted on those parenthetical references.
Parenthetical notes NOT required by law
To my surprise, I found two respected legal stylists arguing against such parenthetical notes. Here’s what Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and Bryan A. Garner, author of Garner’s Modern American Usage and The Elements of Legal Style, wrote in Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges.
Give the reader credit for having a brain—and show that you have one, too… If your brief repeatedly refers to the Secretary of Transportation and mentions no other Secretary, it is silly to specify parenthetically the first time you mention the Secretary of Transportation “(hereinafter ‘The Secretary’).” No one will think that your later references to “The Secretary” denotes the Secretary of Defense, or perhaps your own secretary.
In short, you don’t need those parenthetical references to (“The Fund”) and (“The Index”). Of course, you should consult with your firm’s legal and compliance professionals before eliminating them. Unfortunately, however, it’s rare for legal and compliance departments to get in trouble for saying no to simplification requests.
I hope this quote from Scalia and Garner will help you purge these parenthetical references from your publications.
Some parenthetical notes work
However, sometimes parenthetical references are good, as I explain in “Plain language: Let’s get parenthetical.”
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