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.

Bryan A. Garner, president of LawProse, Inc., is the award-winning author of many books on legal writing and advocacy. He is the editor in chief of all editions of Black’s Law Dictionary.

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