Legal Writing Tip - "Painting with Print"
I recently read Ruth Ann Robbins, Painting with print: Incorporating concepts of typographic and layout design into the text of legal writing documents, 2 JALWD 108 (2004). As I mentioned in an earlier post, I had the opportunity to attend a session on using visuals in legal writing at the LWI Biennial Conference. This piqued my interest and led me to Ruth Ann's article.
The article has tips that are already widely recognized by legal writers, such as advising the use of headings to create "chunks" of information. It has tips that many experienced practitioners have intuitively figured out, such as avoiding putting headings in all caps, although the standard practice may be to the contrary. And it contains some novel suggestions, such as varying the actual font size of the headings to show hierarchy moving from larger to smaller.
A summary of tips is provided on pages 133-34. An appendix of which courts permit using the recommended layout begins on page 135.
Even if you are reluctant to experiment with your legal documents, read the article and start experimenting with the newsletters, training documents, e-mails, and other non-legal documents you likely regularly produce.