Beware the "Monological Imperatives": Scholarly Writing for the Reader
The most up-to-date version of this piece can be found in the Duke Law Scholarship
This article describes principles of effective academic writing—offered not as edicts, but as guidelines—for legal scholars in particular. The overall focus is style, but the discussion begins with observations of format. These are followed by a few stylistic principles that govern clear and effective writing. None of these principles is a revelation to the student of method or to the accomplished writer. But for the academic writer less focused on or less familiar with such principles, being aware of and practicing them can clear the fog from syntax, illuminate the writer's thesis and its development, and help keep the reader's eye on the text. This last objective should be the writer's first: to anticipate the reader's understanding and responses and to know what piques and what holds the reader's interest.
Date of Authorship for this Version
Magat, Joan Ames, "Beware the "Monological Imperatives": Scholarly Writing for the Reader" (2007). Duke Law School Faculty Scholarship Series. Paper 98.