If you practice in a jurisdiction that requires court filings with
But the secret is simple: use exact line spacing with the line numbers and the body text.
For example, California state courts require filings to use double line spacing (which works out to 28 lines per page), 12-point type, and line numbers in the left margin. I’ll use this as a basic model and you can adapt it to the rules in your jurisdiction.
Create a new document with 1″ margins.
In the body of the document, in 12 point, type a paragraph of about five lines that looks like this:
To get true double line spacing, you need to set your line spacing to exactly twice the point size. The H paragraph is set in 12 point, so select the whole paragraph and change its line spacing to exactly 24 points. Don’t use the
“Double”line spacing option in your word processor—despite the name, you’ll end up with line spacing larger than you want. (See Line spacing.)
Open the document header for editing.How to open the document header
Word In Print Layoutview, double-click near the top of the page. WordPerfect If no header exists, add one. Insert→ Header / Footer. After adding a header, click in the header box that appears on the page.
Create a tall, narrow text box in the left margin. (For those unfamiliar, a
text boxlets you put text in an arbitrary position on the page, outside the flow of the main document.)How to insert a text box Word Insert→ Textpanel → Text Box→ Draw Text Box. Click and drag on the page to create the box. Mac OS Word 2011 Document Elementstab → Text Elementspanel → Text Boxicon → Text Box. Click and drag on the page to create the box. Mac OS Word 2016 Inserttab → Text→ Text Box→ Draw Text Box. Click and drag on the page to create the box. WordPerfect Insertmenu → Text Box. A default text box will appear. Adjust the size and position as needed. Right-click the text box and select Wrap→ Behind Text.
In the text box, type your line numbers. Use a hard line break between each number, not a carriage return, so the whole set of numbers is one paragraph. Select all the numbers. As you did before, use paragraph formatting to set the line spacing to exactly 24 points.
Drag the text box near the H paragraph so it looks approximately aligned.
Zoom in closely to the top left corner of the H paragraph so you can see the H paragraph on the right, and the first few numbers in the text box on the left. Select the text box and use the arrows on your keyboard to move the text box vertically until the bottoms of the numbers line up with the bottoms of the lines in the H paragraph.
That’s it. You should now have line numbers that repeat on every page and that line up with the body text. Remember—all the paragraphs in your document, including headings, must have line spacing of exactly 24 points and no space between paragraphs. Otherwise, the text will no longer align with the line numbers.
The line numbers themselves don’t have to be the same point size or font style as the body text. I like to make them smaller.
See the caption page and motion sample documents for more tips on typography in court filings.
What purpose do line numbers serve today? I have no idea. It’s just another obsolete typewriter habit. As a pin-cite system, paragraph numbers make more sense. Page and line references are dependent on a specific paginated rendering of a document. Paragraph numbers are not.