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February 2011

One space, not two, after each sentence.

I’ve written on this topic many times before (e.g. here), but too many out there either haven’t gotten the message or willfully resist it. So here we go again ...

If you are writing in a proportionately spaced font (i.e. almost anything besides Courier*), you need only one space—not two—at the end of each sentence. The latest and (in my mind) most authoritative voice saying so is Matthew Butterick. Besides being a lawyer, Matthew has credentials most lawyers lack in this area. He has a visual-arts degree from Harvard, where he learned traditional letterpress printing and digital font design. He worked as a font designer for several years before entering law school and becoming a practicing litigator. He explains on his web site and in his new book why, when writing in a proportionately spaced font, one space is enough and two is too many. So if you’re still {sigh} putting two spaces after every sentence, please read what Matthew has to say about it.

Matthew is not alone in his view. Every authority I’ve consulted on this question agrees with him, including the following:

If you still insist on putting two spaces after every sentence despite using a proportionately spaced font, be my guest. But I’d like to know if anyone out there can cite any authority to support such a practice.


* If, on the other hand, you’re using your computer to produce text in Courier or another monospaced font, put two spaces after every sentence, as you learned in typing class. But please consider re-examining your choice of fonts.

p.s. (31 Jan. 2011): For some high-minded debate on this topic, check out First Draft.

For appellate lawyers, a great seminar

I have attended every DRI Appellate Advocacy Seminar since the first one in 1999. So I confidently recommend the next one, to be held March 10-11, 2011 in Orlando, Florida. The faculty includes several appellate judges, in-house counsel, and top-notch appellate lawyers from across the country. So the educational value is outstanding. Perhaps even more enjoyable for appellate lawyers is the opportunity to meet and get to know their peers from across the country—a most congenial group! To learn more about the program, download the flyer, or register, visit the DRI web site.

Bryan Garner coming to your town (maybe)

During the next three months, Bryan Garner will be on tour with a double-feature CLE program: Advanced Legal Writing & Editing in the morning, and Making Your Case (developed with Justice Antonin Scalia) in the afternoon. You can sign up for one or the other, or for both. A link to the flyer is here. And here is a list of the stops on Bryan’s tour:

  • Feb. 1: Little Rock
  • Feb. 2: Kansas City
  • Feb. 14: Nashville
  • Feb. 21: Miami
  • Mar. 3: Dallas
  • Mar. 7: Austin
  • Mar. 8: Houston
  • Mar. 16: Phoenix
  • Mar. 25: New Orleans
  • Apr. 11: Chicago
  • Apr. 20: Cleveland
  • Apr. 26: Minneapolis
  • May 5: Washington, DC
  • May 9: Philadelphia
  • May 12: Boston
  • May 17: New York

Typography for Lawyers — the book

Tfl-book-cover I just finished reading Matthew Butterick’s new book, Typography for Lawyers. For lawyers and law students, I have two words of advice about this book: buy it. Why? Because every lawyer is a professional writer. So the lawyer’s writing should be professionally presentable, for the same reason that the lawyer should be professionally presentable when appearing in court or meeting a client. This book will tell you how to get there.

For myself, I thought I was relatively knowledgeable about typography. I’ve read Bryan Garner’s good advice about it in his various books. I’ve read Ruth Anne Robbins’s fine article, Painting With Print. And I’ve read the Seventh Circuit’s guidelines for briefs and other papers. I even taught myself how to put real apostrophes and quotation marks in my blog posts. But after reading this book, I realize how much more I need to learn.

Yesterday I linked to a blog post by Kendall Gray, showing before-and-after versions of a court opinion, the latter based on lessons learned from this book. Today Ernie Svenson posted a review of this book and presented his own writing samples applying lessons from this book. If  you haven’t done so already, check out Ernie’s review.

The difference good typography makes

Over at The Appellate Record, Kendall Gray took a typical opinion in typical type style (12-point Times New Roman, double-spaced), and re-did it using principles learn from Matthew Butterick’s new book, Typography for Lawyers. The difference is remarkable. Go there, have a look at the before and after versions, and lament court rules that force us to write and read stuff that looks like the before version.