April 4, 2012

Typography

What every lawyer (and graphic designer) needs to know about the proper use of typography

Back in January, typeface designer Matthew Butterick sent a letter to film director Brad Bird chastising him about his use of the Verdana typeface for the subtitles of the film, Mission Impossible. Bird's response came in the form of a tweet and was dismissive: "...If you direct a big film on a tight budget & schedule, chances are fonts won't ever be your most pressing problem."

I can't think of an example that better illustrates the chasm between those who specify and apply typefaces without giving it a thought and those who find significance in the many ways typefaces, properly used, are used to clarify the communication of information and make it easier to read and digest.

Matthew Butterick, who is also a lawyer, is the author of Typography For Lawyers, Essential Tools For Polished & Persuasive Documents. Though it is clearly written for lawyers, most of the book is applicable to non-lawyers as well. As he states in its introduction, "If you ignore typography, you are ignoring an opportunity to improve both your writing and your advocacy."

Though much of the book is presented online we are told that about two-thirds, including many visual examples, specific technical instructions for specific word processing programs, and other segments are only available in the for purchase versions.

Though I do not adhere to every nuance, I certainly recommend you take a look. Matthew Butterick's book offers a valuable, compelling example of typographic mastery.

Thanks to Jeff Fisher for pointing us to it.

Typography For Lawyers

Typography For Lawyers, the Introduction...

Some excellent ideas on font substitution...

Before and after documents...

The front door to Butterick's website...

Sample pages (7) from the book (630KB PDF)...

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