motionsExtra attention to legibility is time well spent

Lit­i­ga­tors, I ap­pre­ci­ate that mo­tions are of­ten writ­ten un­der dead­line pres­sure that make good ty­pog­ra­phy seem like an un­af­ford­able luxury.

But when is it more im­por­tant to have your reader’s full at­ten­tion? You’re ask­ing a judge to or­der a rem­edy—or, if you’re op­pos­ing, to re­frain from or­der­ing that rem­edy. The is­sue is im­por­tant enough to have reached the judge’s desk. The rul­ing may not be ap­peal­able. Shouldn’t you put your best foot forward?

“Yes, but where do I find the time?” You take care of the ty­pog­ra­phy be­fore you write your mo­tion—by set­ting up a mo­tion tem­plate with para­graph and char­ac­ter styles that han­dle most of the ty­pog­ra­phy chores as you write. When you get to the end, there’s not much left to do.

Or you can sub­mit mo­tions that look like they just rolled out of bed.

  1. No let­terspac­ing in all-caps head­ing.
    Un­der­lin­ing through­out.
    Ar­ial used for body text and head­ings.
    Word-by-word cap­i­tal­iza­tion of sub­head­ings.
    Two spaces be­tween sen­tences.
    No hy­phen­ation of jus­ti­fied text.

  2. Line length too wide; text too close to ver­ti­cal rules.
    Line num­bers and body text misaligned.

  3. Last head­ing breaks onto next page.
    Mul­ti­ple hy­phens around page num­ber.
    Point size of footer is too large.
    No let­terspac­ing in footer text.

  1. Let­terspac­ing added to sec­tion la­bel.
    Un­der­lin­ing re­moved.
    Ar­ial re­placed with Eq­uity.
    Cap­i­tal­iza­tion cor­rected.
    One space be­tween sen­tences.
    Text hyphenated.

  2. Line length nar­rowed; text far­ther from ver­ti­cal rules.
    Line num­bers aligned with body text.

  3. Last head­ing moved to next page us­ing keep lines to­gether.
    Em dashes around page num­ber.
    Footer point size re­duced.
    Let­terspac­ing added to footer.

No­tice how much white space has been added around the edges of the text and near the head­ings. Re­mem­ber the ninth maxim of page lay­outdon’t fear white space. You needn’t fill up every square inch per­mit­ted by law. Yes, adding white space may lengthen the doc­u­ment slightly, be­cause you’re us­ing less space per page. The ben­e­fit is bet­ter ty­pog­ra­phy and bet­ter leg­i­bil­ity. (If you gen­uinely pre­fer the mo­tion on the pre­vi­ous page, it’s time to pass this book along to a friend.)

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