CBA Record Nov-Dec 2019

alike, which not only slows reading but also impairs comprehen- sion,” states the court. 5. Use only one space after punctuation. I was a holdout on this one, too. Many attorneys who learned to type in a certain era have muscle memory of two spaces after a period at the end of a sentence. Two spaces were necessary to see the end of a sentence in the days of monospaced fonts and typewriters. With word processing and proportionally spaced fonts, however, use of two spaces creates a wide white space after each sentence. String a few of these together, and you have rivers of white space in your document – which “interfere with the eyes moving from one word to the next.” (Seventh Circuit Handbook.) Caveat – Always Follow Court Rules Always check the court rules before changing margins, font choice, or any other document design suggestion. Although 1.25- or 1.5- inch margins will make your document more readable, you may not have the option to use those settings. If a court mandates 1-inch margins, you must follow that rule. Otherwise, you risk harming your client by filing a non-conforming brief. Not all courts are as cognizant of document design as the Seventh Circuit. Conclusion Lawyers should pay close attention to the science-based advantages of good typography. It is another tool to communicate our ideas clearly. After noting judges read up to 1,000 pages per argument session, the Seventh Circuit handbook sums up the value of good typography:

White space gives readers information in bite-sized bits to enable the reader to digest information.” Gerald Lebovits, Document Design: Pretty in Print - Part I , 81 N.Y. St. B.J., March/April 64 (2009). Make it easier for the reader; add more white space to the page. As courts move to word count limits rather than page limits, this is easier to do. Here are some ways Lebovits suggests to increase white space in your next brief or other document:

• Use 1.25-inch margins; • Avoid long paragraphs; • Add headings and subheadings; • Add a line between sections; • Use bullet points and numbered lists;

• Avoid block quotations and lengthy footnotes or endnotes; • Add a line before and after block quotations and between footnotes and endnotes. 3. Alignment – Left-Justify the text. Left-justified text, with a ragged right-hand margin, is the easiest to read. The other most common option, fully justified text, with words flush to the left and right margins, raises problems with spacing. To have every line end at the right-hand margin, the spaces between letters and words are stretched. This creates “rivers” of white space running down the page, which can distract the reader. The Seventh Circuit agrees, unless you hyphenate proportionally spaced type. For monospaced type, the rivers run deeper, and the Seventh Circuit advises you never to full-justify the text. 4. Use italics, not underlining. In the days of typewriters, we had to underline case names because we could not use italics. Some attorneys have continued this practice, even with the ease of print- ing italics with word processors. The Seventh Circuit and others note underlining cuts off the bottom half, or descenders, of letters g, j, p, q and y . “This interferes with reading, because we recognize characters by shape. An underscore makes characters look more

Reading that much is a chore. Remembering it is even harder. You can improve your chances by making your briefs typographically superior. It won’t make your ar- guments better, but it will ensure that judges grasp and retain your points with less struggle. That’s a valuable advantage, which you should seize.



Made with FlippingBook - Online magazine maker