Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Attractive Fonts for Hard Cases

Lawyers care much about some Facets of document Attractiveness and little about others (See "Effective Writing: The Big Picture" for definitions of the Virtues and their Facets): lawyers who haven't devoted a thought to font selection would never consider submitting a strikeout, which decreases Neatness and affronts a formality. Lawyers don't think about fonts because when designing the appearance of documents lawyers worry instead about breaching formalities. Lawyers dread violating some formality they are unacquainted with, a professionally humiliating experience. To give the profession its due, breaching a formality has consequences worse than filing an Ugly document.

Document aesthetics are most important when your case is weak on the merits. Improving the Attractiveness of a document is one of the few ways to appeal to a judge's emotions; the other is Euphony. With a weak or unpopular case, you desperately need to create favorable associations. Augmenting Euphony means making a difficult turn toward the asiatic style. Fortunately for hard cases, most lawyers can easily augment briefs' Attractiveness, so lacking in aesthetic sensitivity is lawyerly composition.

Most lawyers can improve even Clarity significantly by a simple font change, substituting Century Schoolbook (New Century Schoolbook on Macintosh) for Times New Roman or Times. The remedy for Ugliness involves two font changes to improve Novelty and Pattern by using distinct font families for headings and body text. Choosing compatible combinations calls for some study, thought, or advice. Although you will often read the conventional recommendations to use serif fonts for body text, the data indicate the absence of consistent Clarity differences that depend on complicating the end stroke of letter and numeral.

Here are some striking yet professional combinations of serif body text and sans-serif headings:

Corbel for headings; Constantia for text. (Microsoft fonts: download a trial of Microsoft Publisher in Office 2007, and keep the fonts.)

Century Gothic for headings: Century Schoolbook for text.

And sans-serif body text and serif headings:

Zapf Elliptical (also called Utopia) for headings; Zapf Humanist (Optima) for text. (WordPerfect fonts: similar acquisition techniques apply.)

Serifa for headings; Univers (Zurich) for text. (WordPerfect fonts.)

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