Foreword by Bryan A. Garner

If Matthew But­t­er­ick didn’t ex­ist, it would be nec­es­sary to in­vent him. What’s un­usual about the tour de force you’re now hold­ing is that not only is it bold and fresh and orig­i­nal, but also that it’s fully de­vel­oped: it reads like a fifth edi­tion. It’s smartly rea­soned, it’s backed up by years of cul­ti­vated ex­per­tise, and it’s well written.

Here’s how to use this book if you’re a su­per­vis­ing law­yer (Sarah) deal­ing with an as­so­ciate (Ralph):

“Ralph, thanks for the memo. I’m look­ing for­ward to read­ing it. But …”

“Is there a problem?”

“Well yes. Frankly, I don’t want to read it. You’re un­der­lin­ing case names, you’re putting two spaces af­ter pe­ri­ods, and the font is just ghastly. I could spend 30 min­utes mak­ing it pre­sentable, but I want the as­so­ciates who work with me to do that in the first place. Do you own Butterick?”


“But­t­er­ick. Ty­pog­ra­phy for Lawyers. Here, take my copy home tonight. I’ll need it back to­mor­row. Learn this stuff, please. I want all your writ­ing for me to com­ply with But­t­er­ick. Got that?”

“Sure, Sarah. Thanks. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

To­mor­row will be a very new day.

Here’s how to pro­ceed if you’re an as­so­ciate (Leslie) deal­ing with a su­per­vi­sor (Russell):

“Leslie, I don’t like the for­mat­ting of this memo. I want dou­ble-spaced Courier. And two spaces af­ter a period!”

[Smil­ing pleas­antly.] “You’re kidding!”

“No, that’s the way I want doc­u­ments formatted.”

[Smil­ing pleas­antly but in­cred­u­lously.] “Is that just for edit­ing pur­poses? I mean, we’re about to send this off to the client!”

“That’s the fi­nal for­mat for trans­mit­ting it to the client.” [He would say trans­mit­ting, wouldn’t he?]

“Russ, bear with me. You’re the part­ner here, but haven’t you read But­t­er­ick? I really think we should fol­low But­t­er­ick. It makes the firm look better.”

“Who the hell is Butterick?”

“You know, Ty­pog­ra­phy for Lawyers. He’s the guy who sets the stan­dards for doc­u­ment de­sign in law of­fices. He makes a good case that most law­yers are com­pletely in the dark about ty­pog­ra­phy. Here, have a look at it.”

Rus­sell demurs.

“Re­ally, Russ, I was shocked to learn that there should be only one space af­ter a pe­riod. He makes an ir­refutable case. Here, read just this page.” [Be sure to say /ir-ref-yə-tə-bəl/, for cred­i­bil­ity’s sake.]

[Rus­sell reads.] “I don’t care. I want dou­ble-spaced Courier. And two spaces af­ter a period.”

“OK, Russ.” [Beam­ing en­thu­si­as­ti­cally.] “But I’m telling you, you’ve got to read Butterick.”

Here’s how to pro­ceed if you’re on a com­mit­tee that will be pro­duc­ing a re­port. At the tail end of the first meet­ing, as peo­ple are pack­ing up, you say: “Can we make every­one’s life eas­ier with just one ground rule? We will fol­low But­t­er­ick in all our drafts and in the fi­nal re­port. OK?”


“Sure. Ty­pog­ra­phy for Lawyers. It’ll make our com­mit­tee work so much more pleas­ant when we’re ex­chang­ing drafts. You don’t know But­t­er­ick? I’ll get you a copy. Be­lieve me: it’ll change your life. You’ll won­der how you ever did with­out it.”

“You’re kidding.”

“Ab­solutely not. You’d do well to learn Butterick!”

Please re­mem­ber these bits of di­a­logue. Adapt them. Use them. Often.

Is But­t­er­ick in­fal­li­ble? No: in hi­er­ar­chi­cal head­ings, he rec­om­mends three-level dec­i­mals. But oth­er­wise he’s as­suredly infallible.

—Bryan A. Garner

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