Ask PTB – Drug Names–Caps or Not?

A Proof That Blog reader asked this question:

“Hi Kathy! I need your help! Should I capitalize drug names in sentences: Fentanyl, Methamphetamine, Marijuana? The officers write in lowercase but to me, it is a proper noun, so it should be capitalized. Thank you!”

The actual tradenames of drugs would be capitalized, i.e., ADVIL, which is the trademark owned by PF Consumer Healthcare 1 LLC for their ibuprofen tablets, is capitalized, but “ibuprofen” is not. Since “fentanyl” is the type of drug (a potent synthetic opioid) and not the tradename, it is not capitalized. The tradenames for fentanyl include Actiq, Fentora, and Duragesic, which would be capitalized.

The same is true of methamphetamine. The tradename for that is Desoxyn, so that tradename is capitalized, but the actual drug name “methamphetamine” is not. Marijuana is not a tradename, but is a type of “drug,” so it is not capitalized.

Basically, if it is not the registered tradename of the specific drug but is the type of drug (as it looks like your work would primarily be), it would not be capitalized.

I hope that helps!

Ask PTB: Three Slashes

I had a reader ask “Question: When formatting a pleading, what is the /// called at the bottom of the page? What are the rules?” After some research, here’s what I find:

It is usually called a “slash” (or in this example, three slashes). This slash is also called “forward slash,” “diagonal,” “virgule,” or “solidus.”

In formatting a legal document, you should always leave at least two lines at the bottom and at the top of a page avoiding a single line in either place. The single lines are called widows (at the top of a page) and orphans (at the bottom of the page) and there are settings in Word to avoid that (Paragraph, Line and Page Breaks, Pagination, Widow/Orphan control). Sometimes, moving the orphans to the next page leaves a larger margin at the bottom of the page and is particularly noticeable when you are using numbered pleading paper. To avoid the reader thinking that is the end of the document, some people use the three slashes–either without space or with a space between each slash–to signal that there is more text on the next page. I typically see the slashes with spaces between each slash and on each line–with the same spacing as the document itself–on as many lines as you need to get to the last numbered line. Here is an example:

While it is not necessary and there is no rule that I find requiring it, it will depend on your firm’s preference. Using the three slashes does make it clear that there is additional language on the next page, so I see the usefulness. The caveat is to make sure that that is among the last tasks you do when finalizing a document. Otherwise, if language is deleted or moved around, the slashes could end up in the middle of a paragraph or between two paragraphs and just cause confusion, so be very careful when using them.