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Typography for Lawyers 1st Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 109 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1598390773
ISBN-10: 1598390775
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Editorial Reviews

Review

Butterick's book is for far more than litigators. A quick, thorough guide, this text offers much to typographic novices and experts alike. The book begins with a litany of sound arguments about why typography matters, and why it should be looked at as crucial to the law profession. But needless to say, nearly all the advice presented herein is equally applicable to writers or any professional services-based small business, not to mention graphic designers, students, and type mavens. --Nick Cox, Book Review: Typography for Lawyers

Butterick's premise is that typography in legal documents should be held to the same standards as any professionally published material, because legal documents are professionally published material. There's a wealth of information that I wish I had had access to long before now. ... That's why Typography for Lawyers is such a godsend. --Ernie Svenson, Typography matters, especially for lawyers

Typography for Lawyers is filled with nuggets, rationales and mechanics to make our papers look better. No, they won't make a loser appeal into a winner, but like wearing a decent suit to court, or polishing your shoes, it's one less detriment and one more benefit. Butterick's point, and mine, is that there's no good reason not to do it as well as it can be done. The book is a quick read, and one to keep on hand for reference, kinda like the Blue Book, the Essential Chester Barnard and Strunk & White. --Scott Grennfield, Book Review: Typography for Lawyers --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Matthew Butterick got his B.A. degree magna cum laude from Harvard University in visual & environmental studies. Butterick's work is in the permanent collection of the Houghton Library at Harvard. Butterick started his career as a font designer and engineer, working for David Berlow and Matthew Carter on projects for Apple Computer, Microsoft, Ziff-Davis, and others. Neville Brody featured his work in FUSE, Brody's journal of experimental typography. Butterick designed Herald Gothic, Wessex, and the popular sans serif family Hermes.
At the beginning of the Internet era, Butterick moved to San Francisco and founded Atomic Vision, a website design and engineering company. Butterick and his staff created award-winning websites for Internet pioneers like CNET, Netscape, Verisign, and Wired magazine. Butterick lectured in the United States and Europe on website development and user-interface design.
Atomic Vision was acquired by open-source software developer Red Hat. Butterick was part of the management team behind Red Hat's successful IPO and its transition to Internet-based distribution.
Butterick attended UCLA law school and became a member of the California bar in 2007. He practices civil and criminal law.
Butterick newest font is Equity, a text face inspired by legal typog­ra­phy and the needs of legal writ­ers (available at equityfont.com)
Butterick lives in the Hollywood Hills with his wife Jessica and Roxy the boxer.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 220 pages
  • Publisher: Jones McClure Publishing; 1st edition (November 12, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1598390775
  • ISBN-13: 978-1598390773
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 6.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (109 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #526,713 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Andrew Lahser on November 23, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There are two things lawyers use daily: a chair and a word processor. Smart lawyers get comfortable with both. For me, adjusting my chair is straightforward. Adjusting my word processor (and my word processing habit) is not.

Butterick helps you make the adjustment from the typewriter rules that you learned in school. As a result, your documents will have predictable style. Your document's style will clearly guide your reader. Will this make your document more persuasive? Yes, with surprisingly little work.

If you are still not sure whether you should buy this book, just spend a little time at the companion website: typographyforlawyers.com. The advantages of the book over the website are three: better guidance for choosing a professional font, more examples of before/after, and word processor specific advice. The only thing missing is CLE credit.

Finally, I spent about 2 hours on the website and 4 hours with the book. This included the time spent modifying my default templates, fiddling with word processor defaults, buying & installing fonts, and incorporating the advice into my workflow. Looking at documents that I create now, I feel great about the return on the time invested.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
ESSENTIAL BOOK FOR ALL WRITERS
Believe it or not, I was not going to write a review for this book. I really do not know how or why I select the few books that I do to review. The exception, however, is TYPOGRAPHY FOR LAWYERS by Matthew Butterick. I am writing this review for those interested in improving the quality of their writing. As for myself, this book has changed (improved) everything with my writing. All of my documents—memos, marketing materials, letters, motions—have been improved because of this treasure. I frequently use two books: (1) The Redbook by Garner and (2) Typography for Lawyers by Butterick. I truly do not know how to say it other than as plainly and clearly as possible: indispensable. No amount of praise could do this book justice.

Butterick's guidance on line spacing, fonts, and point sizes, among other things, is excellent. I do not necessarily always agree with Butterick—margins, tabs, line length, three-level decimals (as pointed out by Garner in the foreword). But my disagreements are few. It is not that he is "wrong"; it is just that I disagree with some of his rules. Nevertheless, I did break my habit of using two spaces after sentences.

I also disagree with Butterick that "implementing good typography is often a chore and a bore" (p. 165). It has been fun, and the end product of better documents is its own reward.

PRACTICAL TIPS
Butterick does quite an extraordinary job of providing clear, practical tips on how to improve your writing. He provides the specific steps for all of the major word-processing platforms. Everything from boldface to italics to apostrophes to kerning is explained with specific, practical information to implement improvements in your writing immediately.
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Format: Paperback
This book gives great guidance on everything from how to format dashes to how to find the ideal line spacing. Another interesting feature is an annotated guide to the pros and cons of various fonts. The author even offers alternatives to Times New Roman and other popular fonts that the Seventh Circuit and other courts have criticized.

One of the most interesting observations comes at the end, where the author notes that the bland, homogenous appearance of most filings stems not from court rules but from the "bandwagon effect." Butterick encourages lawyers to explore instead the "typographical latitude" that nearly all courts allow. The endgame, he reminds us, is to make filings readable, if not enjoyable.

I also appreciated the hints on letterhead and business cards, Bryan Garner's witty foreword, and the author's pervasive passion for his subject.

All in all, a terrific resource that is sure to become the definitive guide to typography in the legal profession and perhaps beyond.
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This book is a masterpiece.

I discovered the website typographyforlawyers.com when it first launched. I'm not a lawyer, but it was the best guide to typography I'd ever seen.

The book is like the website, but bigger. It's concise and extremely intelligently written. (I see that the author was a Harvard-educated expert in typography before becoming a lawyer.)

A tip for lawyers: I'm not a lawyer, so I struggle to determine whether a lawyer is any good--so I judge you by the things I can discern. If your documents are typographically shambolic (loads of rogue spaces, spelling mistakes, using hyphens instead of em dashes, etc.) I assume that this sloppiness extends to the legal aspects of your work. Perhaps I'm wrong to do so--but I guess that's your problem, not mine.
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This is a book that every lawyer should own.

Lawyers prepare many papers, but rarely have solid information on how things should be arranged. They don't know about the best practices that have developed in the centuries since Gutenberg. Matthew Butterick supplies that information. In 200 easily-read pages, he explains what typographers have learned about how text should be arranged.

For example:

* Add only one space after periods. There is no good reason to add two spaces.

* Use real "small caps," rather than imitation ones created by your word processor.

* Use italics, not underlining.

* Never use courier as your font.

* Use Times New Roman only if you are absolutely required by court rules.

There is much more. Read about the book on his web site, [...]. And then buy the book.
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