Typography (Or Why Your Briefs Should Be Visually Appealing)

I trust that anyone who reads my blog would also read the much more popular Ernie the Attorney. If you do not, I urge you to go subscribe to Ernie’s blog right now. Ernie is one of the pioneers in the legal blogging world and consistently posts well written, topical, and useful posts. This week, Ernie is talking about things that he learned from Matthew Butterick’s Typography for Lawyers. This looks like a fascinating book. I have ordered my copy, but I am waiting for it to arrive (Amazon was temporarily out of stock when I ordered it).

While waiting, however, I have had the pleasure of reading Ernie’s posts about lessons that he learned from the book. Thus far, he has posted the following:

If you have any interest in making your briefs more readable, you must read these posts from Ernie. You also might want to check out the book. I am waiting with bated breath for mine to arrive.

If you are not a typography nerd (there’s no shame in that) and you are wondering what all of the fuss is about, let me just say that how you format your document both affects the reader’s ability to read the documents, as well as the reader’s perception of you.

I was recently on a call with one of my clients and we were working through some discovery issues that had been raised by opposing counsel in a letter. This attorney clearly does not put a lot of thought into formatting his documents and one of the things that my client told me was that the letters from the opposing attorney are hard to read because of the way in which he formats them.

Even if you don’t want to study this issue, you should spend a little time just figuring out if there is something you can do to make your documents more effective.

Ted Kennedy & FedEx

I noticed that yesterday, while I was complaining about the Comcast installer stealing my cable modem, Adrian at The Nutmeg Lawyer was fondly remembering his encounters with Ted Kennedy. I laughed out loud when I read about Adrian calling Ted Kennedy “Baby.” If you have not read his post, you have to go here and read it.

On a completely unrelated note, I also enjoyed Ken Adams’ post in which he has decided to refer to companies such as FedEx as “nationally recognized express transportation compan[ies]” in future contracts.

An Interesting Grammar Story

I admit that I am a grammar geek. Thus, I was quite interested to see this story in the New York Times about the use of a semicolon on a public service placard. The story was ok, but the best part comes at the end of the story.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: February 19, 2008
An article in some editions on Monday about a New York City Transit employee’s deft use of the semicolon in a public service placard was less deft in its punctuation of the title of a book by Lynne Truss, who called the placard a “lovely example” of proper punctuation. The title of the book is “Eats, Shoots & Leaves” — not “Eats Shoots & Leaves.” (The subtitle of Ms. Truss’s book is “The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation.”)

I love the irony.