LGST 551
Introduction to Legislative Drafting (OCW)


LGST 551
Introduction to Legislative Drafting (OCW)

Study Materials

Module 2: Section 4

Section Preview

This Section deals with two minor but important features of legislative texts: punctuation and the capitalisation of words.

We often take punctuation very much for granted. It only becomes a matter of interest if it is poorly done. Although legislation does not have special punctuation, its features place special demands on punctuation and legislative counsel are expected to follow conventions as to preferred usages for legislation, often dictated by the drafting practices in their jurisdiction. The same is true for capital letters.

Section Objectives

By the end of this Section, you should be able to comply with standard drafting conventions in your jurisdiction in relation to punctuating legislative sentences and the use of capital letters.

Essential Questions

This Section is divided into two subsections organised in terms of a series of questions:

    • What is the function of punctuation in legislation?
    • Do legislative counsel use punctuation differently from other writers?
    • How should we approach the punctuation of legislation?
    • When do we use capital letters?
    • When should we not use capital letters?

Studying this Section

This Section is written on the basis that you are familiar with the standard punctuation marks and when to use them for general purposes. But you may find it helpful to remind yourself of those matters by reading the appropriate section of a standard grammar manual.

This Section in part is designed to increase your awareness of drafting practices in your jurisdiction with respect to punctuation and capital letters. For that reason, we have provided a considerable number of activities to encourage you to look at your own jurisdiction’s legislation. We have also provided many examples and several exercises to assist you in developing good practices. 

Once you are familiar with what is standard practice, and why it is, you should readily recognise the places where punctuation is needed and the form it should take. Your aim is to make this second nature, so that you provide what is needed automatically without need for thought. This Section is available for reference if you are unclear on any particular occasion.