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Font of Fonts: Seventh Circuit Typography Guide

By Robyn Hagan Cain | Last updated on

In college, a classmate introduced us to the magical world of the Courier New font.

Back in the old days -- before we grew to loathe serif fonts -- Courier New was a welcome alternative to Times New Roman: It was slightly wider, so we could satisfy the written assignment page-length requirements with fewer words. (Surely our professors knew what we were doing, but who would object to reading less undergraduate drivel about Beowulf or European globalization?)

Unlike our professors, who secretly welcomed the font-based reprieve, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has more discriminating taste in fonts, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure (FRAP) 32 may provide detailed requirements for briefs, motions, appendices, and other court papers, but the Seventh Circuit has a seven-page supplemental guide to help lawyers better understand Rule 32 and associated local rules.

The Seventh Circuit's "Requirements and Suggestions for Typography in Briefs and Other Papers" includes everything from the origins of the dreaded Times New Roman font to the revelation Supreme Court and Solicitor General's favorite font. (It's Century.)

The best tip from the guide: Use a font that was designed for books.

Professional typographers set books in New Baskerville, Book Antiqua, Calisto, Century, Century Schoolbook, Bookman Old Style and many other proportionally spaced serif faces. Any face with the word "book" in its name is likely to be good for legal work. Baskerville, Bembo, Caslon, Deepdene, Galliard, Jenson, Minion, Palatino, Pontifex, Stone Serif, Trump Mediäval, and Utopia are among other faces designed for use in books and thus suitable for brief-length presentations.

If you want to fully immerse yourself in the Seventh Circuit's thoughts on typeface, the complete guide is available on the circuit's website.

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