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A large amount of the litigation based on written instruments-whether statute, contract, will, conveyance or regulation-can be traced to the draftsman's failure to convey his meaning clearly. Frequently, of course, certain items may purposely be left ambiguous, but often the question in issue is due to an inadvertent ambiguity that could have been avoided had the draftsman clearly expressed what he intended to say. In this Article it is suggested that a new approach to drafting, using certain elementary notions of symbolic logic, can go a long way towards eliminating such inadvertent ambiguity. This new approach makes available to draftsmen a technique that achieves some of the clarity, precision and efficiency of analysis that symbolic logic provides. In addition, it can be a valuable aid in moving towards a more comprehensive and systematic method of interpretation, as well as drafting. This approach is a compromise between expression in ordinary prose and expression in the mathematical notation of symbolic logic-enough like ordinary prose to be understood easily by any careful reader, enough like symbolic logic to achieve some of its important advantages. It represents an effort to adapt some of the, techniques of symbolic logic to make more systematic what is now best described as the "art" of drafting.


Later reprinted under the same title in: Logic, Probability, and Presumptions in Legal Reasoning, edited by S. Brewer. New York: Garland Publishers, 1998.