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Worst Fonts to Use in Court

By George Khoury, Esq. on February 08, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

When it comes to the debate over what fonts should be used in legal filings, there are generally only definitive answers of what not to do. Don't use tiny fonts, don't use comic sans, or other clearly non-professional fonts, and don't fail to exercise common sense and read the court's rules about what fonts can be used.

In the absence of a rule, you can pretty much get away with whatever font your heart desires so long as it is clear to read, not embellished, and not over or undersized. So, maybe you'll have to exercise some discretion. But hey, at least most of the time, you can be like Posner and use his favorite, Century Schoolbook. To help, below, you'll find three font types you should never use in a court filing.

1. Comic Sans

It really is one of the most hated fonts, especially for anything serious or professional. Using it in a court filing is likely to garner you ridicule from both the court and peers. Recently, a White House attorney faced a rather public shaming over his use of comic sans. The same goes for any and all of the "handwriting," script, or cursive, style fonts.

2. Anything Gaudy, Embellished, or Bolded

If the font has rounded embellishments, or overstated or oversized characters; if it looks like it could have come from an old timey printing press; then, it's probably best to save it for a letter to a loved one, rather than anything professional. Over stylized fonts are not that simple to read, and as such, using one is just going to make it more difficult for the court to process your pleading.

3. Fonts Not on the List

Some courts, including SCOTUS, actually have an approved list of fonts, and if you don't check, you could be inviting the ire of your judge, assuming a clerk doesn't kick it back to you and tell you to fix it. SCOTUS requires fonts in the Century family, while other courts require (or allow) just about anything, including Arial, Verdana, Cambria, Courier, and most people's go to, Times New Roman.

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