Please, leave out defining parentheticals if the shortened form is obvious!

How many times have you seen something like this:

Defendant State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company (hereinafter “State Farm”) moves for summary judgment against all claims alleged by plaintiff Joe Victim (hereinafter “plaintiff”).

Is it really necessary to tell the reader that future references to “State Farm” mean “State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company” and future references to “plaintiff” mean plaintiff? Probably not. A reader of average intelligence understands that without the obligatory defining parentheticals. Consequently, these defining parentheticals serve no purpose other than to clog the sentence and interfere with the writer’s message. No rule of grammar or good sense mandates using such defining parentheticals, so omit them where the shortened form is obvious.

But sometimes the shortened form is not obvious. In those instances, the defining parenthetical is a useful to the reader. Here are a couple examples of defining parentheticals that are helpful:

  • This case arises from plaintiff’s claims against Monopoly, Inc. and its board of directors (collectively “Monopoly”).
  • This is a products liability action against Fred Meyer, Inc. (the “seller”) and Zippo (the “manufacturer”).

Finally, leave out the “hereinafter.” The reader understands the purpose of a defining parenthetical. Remember, our goal is to get to the point rather than to obstruct it, and putting garbage in the reader’s path interferes with achieving that goal.

That is all for now …

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