BCR Directory

Legislative Drafting

Summary

Of the endless styles of writing, from epic poetry to computer code to instructions on how to eat a Twinkie, Legislative Drafting occupies a distinct niche. When it is done well, it can change the nature of government. When done poorly, as it often is, things can be disastrous. 

This reference page has material that may give some assistance on the legislative drafting styles used by the U.S. Congress. The definitive drafters in Congress are located in the House Office of the Legislative Counsel, though the Senate has a separate Legislative Counsel  handling that Chamber’s drafting needs who are quite able as well.


References

House Office Legislative Counsel’s Manual on Drafting Style (HLC 104-1) November 1995

HOLC Document – Introduction to Legislative Drafting (House Office of Legislative Counsel) Revised January 7, 2015

HOLC Document – Quick Guide to Legislative Drafting (Office of the Legislative Counsel, U.S. House of Representatives) Revised October 6, 2014 

How Our Laws Are Made: A Ghost Writer’s View by Sandra Strokoff, The Philadelphia Lawyer, Philadelphia Bar Association Quarterly Magazine, Vol. 59, No. 2, Summer 1996.

Style Guide – The Maroon Book Style Guide: The University of Chicago Manual of Legal Citation (The University of Chicago Law Review) 2015

CBO – A Guide to Style and Usage (Congressional Budget Office) 2013

GPO – Style Manual: An official guide to the form and style of Federal Government printing (Government Accountability Office) 2008

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