As a lawyer, change is absolutely terrifying and completely unnecessary. New law? New procedure? New headache. Don’t even get me started when a judge rotates out. We had such a rapport. Now it’s gone like last week’s lunch.
I think you know how I felt when I found out my beloved Times New Roman was no longer the font of choice for appellate filings in Florida. For those not in the loop, Times New Roman and Courier were the two font-arrows in your Florida appellate attorneys’ quiver. Unbeknownst to the legal community (or potentially just me), the Florida Supreme Court sought a modification of the appellate font rules. Instead of Times New Roman (and Courier), two new fonts – Arial and Bookman Old Style – were considered. In what felt like an instant, the Florida Supreme Court changed the rules effective January 1, 2021. You read that right. On January 1, 2021, we said goodbye to Times New Roman and hello to some other fonts.
As a collective, we cannot discount the immense gravity of this situation. We are talking planetary levels of gravity. Sun level gravity? Perhaps.
I’m sure you’re probably thinking while reading this, “How could this decision possibly be so important?” Let me explain. When we started our undergraduate and law degrees, who was there for us? Times New Roman. Those long nights studying in the library were accompanied by Times New Roman. The notes you jotted down in that class with the professor that spoke way too fast were in Times New Roman. Your law school exams, the Bar Exam, and everything in between?
Once you entered the practice of law, Times New Roman never left your side. The font was there for you for your first legal memorandum, first hearing, first summary judgment victory, and first defeat. For me, Times New Roman was there all those early mornings and late nights at the office. I bet it was there for you too.
As the phrase goes: “[a] font is a lawyer’s best friend” Our thanks to our dear old friend? A discardment. Disregarding the one font that has been there since the very beginning like it’s some sort of variation of Wingdings.
Times New Roman deserves better than to be treated like Wingdings.
Like the Romans (clearly the name sake of such a noble and powerful font), the legal profession should rise up and insist on a reinstatement. We should not allow our ally, our comrade, our partner-in-crime, to disappear into non-existence. Stand-up (or sit-down if you have one of those cool stand-up desks) for Times New Roman!
As I conclude, I will give Bookman Old Style a try. Oh. Wait. This is kind of cool. Sort of a typewriter kind-of-feel? It’s not so bad. Well, I’m still not using Arial!
I can see this article is over a year-old, but having come across it recently I feel I must comment in also defending the Times New Roman font. Stanley Morrison, who designed the typeface in 1935 for The Times newspapers, would never know his design would be so popular, or so criticised, after all this time. Those of us who started using computers in the 1980’s grew up with it and therefore it’s part of our lives. No other font was acceptable then and still isn’t today. Using san serif fonts and their modern style of punctuation symbols for the English language was, and still is, an abomination.
With all the fonts available today, few are worth using. A font should be invisible to the reader’s eye. It’s the content of the text that should be absorb by the reader, or writer, and their attention should not be distracted by sharp, edgy, unproportionate or quirky style of fonts. Serif fonts are far better for reading and working with.
San serif can cause eye strain and headaches when lengthy articles or reports are to be studied. This can be said for use in all legal documents. San serif fonts may be neat for charts and tables, but certainly not for reading.
The other factors of course are the size and shade of the font, which thankfully modern computers and printers can adjust. Too small or too big, too dark or too light all adds to uncomfortable reading and are harmful to the eyes.
Law firms and Courts trying to modernise their appearance should realise how cheap and unprofessional their presentations look by using san serif or unproportionate fonts. Have they also considered that there are faults with Arial, Calibre and other fonts that have the same looking character for capital ‘I’ and lower ‘l’? This can be a problem in legal documents where registrations, serial numbers and descriptive words having both characters next to each other.
Overall, the Times New Roman font has stood the test of time. It’s ‘X’ height, ascenders, descenders, etc., are all in the right proportions, allowing the eye to glide along a line of text with ease and making reading comfortable. It also has a comprehensive set of special characters that are often required, as well as the ability to switch from one language to another within the same document and style set.
I’ve tried and worked with many other fonts, but I still return to the calm appearance and sensibility of Times New Roman. It’s like having a old friend for writing with.
I hated it when Microsoft decided to make Calibri the default typeface instead of Times New Roman. As to Bookman Old Style, it is what it says, old style. It also takes up more space on the page unnecessarily. Arial is not a typeface I would use throughout a court brief, interesting choice. Courier is even worse. A good alternative to Times is Garamond. Quite similar but a bit tighter.