LawProse Lesson #103

What’s the lawyer’s single best source for typography and document design?

ANSWER: All the most important points of typography are covered in LawProse’s Advanced Legal Writing & Editing course. Professor Garner has also written a good deal about the subject in Garner’s Modern American Usage, The Winning Brief, The Redbook: A Manual on Legal Style, and Legal Writing in Plain English.

But the very best in-depth treatment is to be found in Matthew Butterick’s Typography for Lawyers (2010).

Traditionally, lawyers haven’t been greatly concerned about the look of their documents. Typewriters limited writing to monospaced fonts (such as Courier), using underlining for emphasis, and single or double spacing. But with the advent of word processing and all its options, document design has become an invaluable tool for persuading your reader — think judge — from the first glance.

In his superb Typography for Lawyers, Matthew Butterick sets the standard for designing legal documents. From fonts to nonbreaking spaces to block quotations to the one-forward-space rule, Butterick gives clear, sensible instruction.

If you don’t have it, get it. If you have it, follow it. You and your readers will be glad you did.

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