Will you be surprised if we say that a law firm should consider using appropriate fonts? Since law firms deal with more critical aspects, many do not pay attention to the design aspects. But among other things, the fonts used on the website, documents, etc., do matter.
The best fonts for legal documents can create a better impression of your services. It is easy to engage well with the clients through appropriate legal document fonts.
Certain fonts are also prescribed by the courts of law and therefore becomes necessary to follow them. In this blog, we give you an insight into why legal fonts matter, how to select the best legal fonts for your law firms, and the court rules regarding the usage of fonts.
Do legal fonts really matter?
Legal fonts for legal documents do matter for several reasons. Apart from the fact that the Supreme Court directs the use of particular fonts, it also helps the law firm in various aspects. Here are a few reasons why they matter:
Clarity of documents
Standardized legal document fonts give clarity to your legal documents. It improves their readability. It is always important to consider the reader while selecting a legal font for your documents.
Documents have shifted online. Attorneys, clients, and judges have started to access documents through their mobile devices. The priority, therefore, remains that the documents should be clear and readable through mobiles as well.
Certain fonts like Times New Roman look dull on mobile and the size is also small. Only if your documents are readable, clients will be able to grasp the contents clearly. It also helps attorneys and judges who have to browse hundreds of pages.
The first look at a document conveys a lot. The first impression is important to develop an interest to read the document. Legal documents are critical and have to be read thoroughly before the client’s signature is affixed.
If the first impression is not positive the reader may get bored and as a result, may miss out on some important aspects of the document. To avoid this, you should use a font that grabs the attention of the reader. The font usage should also be consistent to maintain the impression created.
The legal font you choose should reflect your brand identity. A clean and professional font speaks well about the brand also. Every time the client looks at the font, they can recognize your brand. This consistency in fonts plays a big role in creating a good impression.
It also represents the interest of the brand in presenting documents that are readable and thereby shows their concern towards the readers.
Various uses of fonts
A legal firm may use different professional fonts. The various uses of fonts are:
The professional fonts you choose will be used in all your legal documents. This holds good whether they are printed copies or documents shared online.
All client-related documents, court documents, case-related findings, communication, financial documents, etc., will be in the legal font you choose. This necessitates that you should select the most appropriate and widely accepted font for your legal documents.
The legal documents presented in the courts should always follow the prescribed font. Attorneys may follow different fonts for communications with the client and their letterheads.
The legal font for email communication should be standard and create an impression on the reader. Emails may be sent to clients, partners, etc.
It is advised that Comic Sans is avoided in any communication or document as it conveys a highly informal tone. Also, it is wise to regulate the use of the same font across the organization as it helps to maintain the brand identity.
Some commonly used fonts for emails are Times New Roman, Arial, Verdana, and Calibri.
Branding and logos
The font that is used here will be the representation of your brand in all places. The rules of the court do not have much impact on the selection of fonts for your branding. You are left to use fonts according to your creative freedom for logos and brand representation.
But, choose fonts that are legible and visible from a distance too. The uniqueness of fonts helps clients in recognizing your brand easily.
The font you choose will be used in the contents of your website. Law firms engage design agencies for their websites to create unique and captivating designs.
The opening page of your website, the chatbox, blogs, etc., are areas where your font will make an impact. As insisted in other areas, look for a font that is impressive and scores high on readability. This will ensure that the visitors to your website get a good experience browsing through its contents.
Various elements of fonts
A font that you see includes various elements in it like size, weight, slope, width, etc. Even for a specific legal document font that you select, these elements can be adjusted.
The size of your typeface matters. It should be big enough so that readers are comfortable reading them. At the same time, it should not be too big that a little content occupies a majority of the page.
The size of fonts for the mobile version of your website and legal documents can differ. A minimum of 12 points should be maintained for standard font size. For better readability on mobile, sizes up to 14 are encouraged.
Spacing is another element to look into while deciding on fonts. The type of fonts you choose determines the line spacing needed.
Line spacing/height is the vertical distance between two lines. A standard of single or double space can be followed. Spacing ensures that your text does not look clumsy.
The distance between letters of a word appears different in various fonts. For example, in the below image, you can see that the readability differs for different letter spacing options.
When the letter spacing is too tight or too wide, readability suffers.
Bold, italics or underline/strikethrough
These are the effects that are applied to a font. Your font should be clear and readable even after these effects are applied. Bolding makes the font thicker and italics lay emphasis by slanting the word.
Underline is a line below the word while strikethrough is a line through the center of the word. Since these elements also impact the font you choose, make sure to select a font appropriately.
The color of your font is also another element to decide. Speaking about color, the contrast ratio also matters. A standard 4:5:1 contrast ratio is prescribed and for larger texts, it is 3:1.
Black goes well with documents but when multiple colors are used for branding purposes, the combination of colors should be chosen judiciously. This will be taken care of by your page designer.
Rules regarding fonts by the Supreme Courts
If the Supreme Court specifies the rules regarding fonts, it is imperative to follow them for documents submitted to courts.
The Supreme Court of The United States advocates the use of Century family fonts in all legal briefs.
Some Century family fonts are:
- Century Gothic
- Century Expanded
- New Century Schoolbook
- Century schoolbook
The Supreme Court of Florida also released a new order in 2020, whereby the use of Arial or Bookman Old Style has been emphasized.
The Us Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit advises doing away with the use of Times New Roman.
The Supreme Court of Virginia has also released a list of accepted fonts for legal briefs.
When the court rules are laid down clearly, law firms should follow them in all legal documents circulated officially.
So even if you are using a default font for your website or communications with the client, you should stick to what the court mentions, for documents submitted to judges.
Main font types
There are five main types of fonts, namely Serif, Sans Serif, script, monospaced, and display. We will discuss Serif and Sans Serif, and their differences in detail.
Serif Vs. Sans Serif fonts
The dictionary meaning of Serif says that it is a slight projection finishing off the stroke of a typeface.
And Sans Serif means without Serif, that is a font without the projection. To understand it better, we have this image attached below.
The difference in the two fonts determines their usage in legal documents.
Serif fonts are generally used in newspapers, magazines, and books. Some Serif fonts are:
- Times New Roman
- Courier New
The Serif fonts give a traditional look to the text and is also easier to read. Their usage in legal documents will enhance the readability factor.
Some of the Sans Serif fonts are:
The Sans Serif fonts are simple and look better digitally. So for legal documents that are circulated online, these are considered a good fit. Since these fonts are simple yet modern, they are more closer to the clients. It also enhances your branding.
Since most of the content for law firms is available on the website, they are accessed by several stakeholders. So there is an increased use of Sans Serif fonts by law firms nowadays.
Should law firms license fonts?
Each font is a software in the present times. Previously, certain fonts were created for only printing books.
There are several free fonts that you could use either in the hard copy of legal documents or online. But, if you want to use a unique font specifically created, you should purchase the same with an end-user licence agreement.
For example, Adobe Fonts has 20,000 selections available of which 6,000 can be accessed for free with an Adobe id. The rest will require you to purchase the licence agreement.
When purchasing, you should consider the costs involved in buying the fonts. The cost depends on the number of people using the fonts, the number of website visits, and the number of devices where it will be used. Licencing fonts could definitely improve your branding but consider the other factors also before purchasing.
You now know the reasons why fonts are important. The right font can improve your visibility and trust among clients.
A legal document drafting software can help you with maintaining consistency in fonts. It ensures that the legal documents comply with the formatting requirements. Ultimately it improves the quality of your legal document. Legal DMS helps to maintain the security of documents by converting them into digital files. For digital legal documents, the right selection of fonts would add more value. Documents can also be instantly created with the help of legal document automation software. They allow remote and instant access to files stored digitally.
The choice of fonts depends on individual law firms except in cases specifically mentioned by the Supreme Court. Choose the ones which are legible, clear and have a compelling impact on the reader.