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Typography for Lawyers Paperback – November 12, 2010

ISBN-13: 978-1598390773 ISBN-10: 1598390775 Edition: 1st

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Typography for Lawyers + The Elements of Legal Style + Legal Writing in Plain English, Second Edition: A Text with Exercises (Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and Publishing)
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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 (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (88 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #55,700 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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The author here, though, makes this material an interesting read.
For those of you who dismiss Mr Butterick's suggestions as mere fluff, please continue to write your legal documents like it's 1985.
Leo Mulvihill
This book is the one that shows why documents will look better if you change.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

64 of 65 people found the following review helpful 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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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Legal Writing Pro on January 5, 2011
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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26 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Robert Glazier on November 29, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Cranky Greg on December 14, 2010
Format: Paperback
I recently purchased this book and I am very glad I did. I have been practicing law for almost 20 years, and I can say that in the modern legal world, often your first impression of attorneys is through written documents. It could be court pleadings, discovery, letters or even e-mails. It is amazing to me how ugly and unreadable many legal documents are.

That is what this book is all about. I can tell you that after reading this book, I am going to go through and review every document that I have in my library, and I'm going to make sure that I implement many of the rules as outlined in this book. I thought my written documents looked fine, especially compared to some other documents that I've seen over my years of practice, but after reading this book, I can tell that my documents are deficient in many respects.

I bought this book from Jones McClure publishing, not really knowing what I was getting. In fact, once I received the book, it sat on my desk for three or four weeks before I actually even looked at it. Now I am completely obsessed with how all of my documents appear!

When I file a motions, pleadings and briefs with the court, I want them to be easy to read and to understand. We have all seen those documents that have paragraphs that go on and on and on and that never get to the point. Documents can also be ugly, and there are still attorneys and law firms out there that use the Courier font! Nothing is more painful to read that a long document with long paragraphs in the Courier font!

You will not go wrong buying this book, and it does not matter if you are a solo practitioner or you're a partner in a big law firm.
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42 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Zeldock on May 24, 2011
Format: Paperback
If you're a lawyer who's never given a thought to graphic design, then "Typography for Lawyers" will be a good wake-up call. It will sensitize you to how design affects the reader's experience and why most legal documents are visually off-putting, to say the least.

I have two issues with this book, however -- one major and one minor. The major one is that a lot of Mr. Butterick's recommended fine-tuning will create headaches if (as is so often the case in law practice) you're sending your documents back and forth among the client, co-counsel, etc. In my experience, trying to use fonts and formatting choices that are off the beaten path can result in a fouled-up mess when, say, the client opens the document on his computer, even though it looked beautiful on yours. Someday the technology will have reached a point where that will no longer be the case. But we're not there yet.

The minor issue involves his recommendation of one space between sentences. As someone who (like Mr. Butterick) worked in publishing and graphic design before becoming a lawyer, I'm familiar with all the arguments for using one space between sentences. I even went through a period as a lawyer when I followed the one-space rule myself. But I ultimately had to admit that two spaces just make text easier to read. (Try it if you don't believe me.) In my opinion, ease of reading trumps all other considerations on this issue.
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