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The Legal Beagle’s favorite book and that of dog lovers everywhere is Every Dog’s Legal Guide: A Must Have Book for Your Owner by Mary Randolph (KF390.5 .D6 R36 2005). His favorite movie is about the crime fighting pooch, Underdog! His current hero is Uno, the beagle who won Best in Show at the...

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Does typography matter?

Posted by Library Blog on 02/13/2015 at 08:33 AM

In Matthew Butterick’s 2010 book Typography for Lawyers: Essential Tools for Polished & Persuasive Documents, the author presents several compelling arguments for why typography, the art and technique of arranging printed material, should and does matter to readers, especially to readers of legal documents. He analogizes the typography of a legal document to the dress of a lawyer for an oral argument further stating, “In the same way that good speaking skills matter during an oral argument, good typography matters in a written document…Typography matters. The only question is whether you, as a writer —and as a lawyer— are going to neglect it. ”

To help lawyers (and law students!) everywhere, Butterick (@mbutterick) promulgates a number of tools, tips, rules, tricks, and laws of good typography for lawyers in his book which is available in the library. He also created a website with some of the same helpful guidance. While not identical to the text of the print version of the book, the online version is informative. The online summary of his key rules is a good introduction to the type of advice you may find in the book and on the website.

While you may never become an expert in good typography, Typography for Lawyers: Essential Tools for Polished & Persuasive Documents may introduce you to practical tools to improve the presentation of your writing, which in turn may help it to be more persuasive. Another resource to improve your writing available at the law school is Writing Specialist, Professor Kim Baker. Professor Baker can work collaboratively with you to develop your writing skills. She may even have a few typography suggestions of her own!