caption pagesUse a table for best results

If this book were a law-school class, re­for­mat­ting a cap­tion page could be the fi­nal exam. Cap­tion pages pack a lot of ty­po­graphic is­sues into a small area. How many can you spot?

  1. Mono­spaced font.
    Too much text in all caps.
    No let­terspac­ing of caps.

  2. Un­nec­es­sary un­der­lin­ing.
    Line spac­ing too tight.
    Rules and bor­ders made out of punctuation.

  3. Ver­ti­cal rules too thick.
    First-line in­dent is too large.
    Line num­bers don’t align with body text.
    In­con­sis­tent cap­i­tal­iza­tion in head­ing.
    Awk­ward line break in heading.

The best way to lay out a cap­tion page is with a ta­ble. At min­i­mum, the party names and ti­tle should go in a two-col­umn ta­ble, like so:

Party namesTitle

You can also start the ta­ble at the top of the page and put the at­tor­ney names and court name in it too. That’s how I pre­fer to do it—the ta­ble makes it easy to ad­just the po­si­tion of each el­e­ment. To make cells span­ning two columns, add new rows and then merge the cells in each row.

Attorney names
Court name
Party namesTitle

The text at the bot­tom of the page starts out­side the table.

Call me a scofflaw, but I’ve never aligned the text in the top half of the page to the line num­bers. It’s pos­si­ble, but it takes a lot of fid­dling and of­ten re­sults in less leg­i­ble text.

  1. Mono­spaced font re­placed with Eq­uity.
    All caps re­placed with bold, or noth­ing. (Small caps would
    be an­other op­tion.)
    Ad­dress lines sep­a­rated with hard line breaks.
    Let­terspac­ing added to court name.

  2. Un­der­lin­ing re­moved.
    Line spac­ing looser in top half of page.
    Rules and bor­ders made with ta­ble-cell bor­ders.
    Point size of party names and ti­tle slightly big­ger than other text.

  3. First-line in­dent re­duced.
    Line num­bers align with body text.
    Cap­i­tal­iza­tion in head­ing fixed.
    Hard line break in­serted in head­ing be­fore “on”.

Re­call the sec­ond maxim of page lay­out— di­vide the page into fore­ground and back­ground. The ver­ti­cal rules on a cap­tion page should seem like part of the back­ground — they should not be darker or more promi­nent than the body text in the fore­ground. Re­mov­ing un­nec­es­sary rules will make the body text area feel less cramped. Use as few as pos­si­ble. In this re­vised ver­sion, I re­moved the ver­ti­cal rule on the right and one on the left. I made the re­main­ing rule thin­ner and moved it away from the text.

Court fil­ings have ugly ty­pog­ra­phy as a mat­ter of habit, not re­quire­ment. Court rules can be strict, but there’s still plenty of room for good ty­pog­ra­phy (see how to in­ter­pret court rules).

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