Typography for Lawyers

Typography for Lawyers is a useful resource for those of us who didn’t study graphic design in school and want to avoid snide looks from our friends who did. Maybe you are a Lawyer, and have been wanting to add pizzaz to your next memo by selecting a new typeface… maybe you just want to distinguish between en and em dashes for personal pleasure. In either instance, Butterick (the site’s creator) explains the principles clearly. For instance, about font selection he says: “Distinctive is fine; goofy is not. Novelty fonts, weird fonts, outline fonts, shadow fonts—these have no place in any document created by a lawyer. Save it for your next career as a designer of breakfast-cereal boxes.”

While the site’s emphasis is on legal writing, but much of the sites content is easily applied to type outside the lexicon of lexis nexis.


6 Comments Typography for Lawyers

  1. johnkanesmith May 25, 2010 at 9:11 AM

    Or maybe you should just hire a designer.

  2. José Luis May 25, 2010 at 4:00 PM

    Good opportunity to learn some design basic stuff to make our life easier

  3. Isaac Miller May 25, 2010 at 4:48 PM

    Thank you for this! I’m a 22 year old Anthro major at UCSC who was recently promoted from photographer to photo editor at our school paper, City on a Hill Press. The unexpected promotion sort of forced me to hit the ground running in terms of knowledge of layout and design, for though I have an immense personal affectation for design and typography, thus far my education on the subject has been limited to about 25 different blogs, and the Helvetica documentary. Just thought I’d give thanks and an example of how your blog has been substantially useful for practical application. Thanks again,

  4. Jim May 26, 2010 at 8:45 AM

    I’m a designer, and my partner is a law student, and I applaud Butterick’s site. I’ve shared it with all my law friends since hearing about it.

    What drives me absolutely nuts is how the “standard” formatting for legal documents is so rudimentary and surprisingly unprofessional. The headlining box on the top of most legal briefs is carefully constructed of tabs, spaces, and parentheses (see here: http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2274/2088728627_17df4fd61a_b.jpg). And now look at that kerning and line spacing, and the incredibly tight margins within the outlining box. How is that professional?

    I tried to step in and offer assistance, but the law community (at least the academic side) seems resistant to superfluous design principles. Professors don’t seem to tolerate formatting that isn’t exactly the same. Maybe they’re using rulers to measure word counts or something. Some blame falls on the traditionalist structure of law studies, but I also pin a lot of this on Microsoft Word. Either way, Butterick’s site is a step in the right direction. Thanks for sharing.

  5. matins May 31, 2010 at 12:04 PM

    I regularly abuse at least two of these rules.

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