line spacing

120–145% of the point size

Line spac­ing is the ver­ti­cal dis­tance between lines of text. Most law­yers use either dou­ble-spaced lines or sin­gle-spaced lines—noth­ing in between.

These are obso­lete typewriter habits. Orig­i­nally, a type­writer’s platen could only move the paper ver­ti­cally in units of a sin­gle line. There­fore, line-spac­ing choices were lim­ited to one, two, or more lines at a time. Dou­ble-spac­ing became the default because sin­gle-spaced type­writ­ten text is dense and hard to read. But dou­ble-spac­ing is still looser than opti­mal.

Most courts adopted their line-spac­ing stan­dards in the type­writer era. That’s why court rules usu­ally call for dou­ble-spaced lines. On a type­writer, each line is the height of the font, thus dou­ble spac­ing means twice the font size. So if you’re required to use a 12-point font, dou­ble line spac­ing means 24 points.

Curi­ously, the so-calleddou­ble” line-spac­ing option in your word proces­sor doesn’t pro­duce true dou­ble line spac­ing. Microsoft Word’sdou­ble” spac­ing, for instance, is about 15% looser, and it varies depend­ing on the font. To get accu­rate spac­ing, you should always set it your­self, exactly.