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Font for Legal Documents: A Guide for the Best Fonts

updated
October 21, 2022
8 min
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Have you found yourself searching using questions like "What font are legal documents typed in?" or "What font do lawyers use?" If so, then you know that fonts for legal documents matter. However, you may still be unsure of the best fonts for legal documents.

As with just about everything in the legal profession, choosing font styles can be somewhat complex. If you select the wrong font for your law firm, document readability could be negatively impacted. More importantly, font style and size will influence how prospective clients, competitors, judges, and peers view your law firm.

In order to help you set the right tone, the team at Grow Law Firm has created this comprehensive guide to choosing the right attorney font for your law firm. We cover everything from selecting a legal font for court documents to choosing the perfect lettering style for your attorney website design and law firm logo.

Why Fonts for Legal Documents Are so Important

Fonts for legal documents matter for several reasons, including the following:

First and Foremost: Supreme Court Rules

Court font utilization requirements

The Supreme Court of the United States has established certain guidelines regarding a font for official documents. State bar associations and other courts have also set complementary rules that outline standard fonts for papers and other documents.

Here are a handful of must-know font rules:

  • An appellate court in Connecticut mandates that attorneys type in Univers or Arial
  • Florida's Supreme Court requires law firms to use Bookman Old Style or Arial in a 14-point font size
  • Virginia's Supreme Court has created a list of standard fonts for papers
  • The Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals prohibits attorneys from using Times New Roman
  • The U.S. Supreme Court requires attorneys to use one of the Century family fonts when writing legal briefs

This list is by no means exhaustive. Therefore, you must check with each entity individually to ensure you use an authorized legal font.

Clarity and Readability

The best font for legal documents is one that contributes to the clarity and readability of your text. If the legal document font size and style detract from the readability of your content, your audience may skim the information within instead of reading the document thoroughly.

When selecting font size and style, be mindful of the medium in which the document will be presented. For instance, a particular legal font size and style might be appropriate for a legal brief that will be printed and viewed in person. However, that same legal font size and style might be difficult to read when viewed digitally.

Legal fonts will have a major impact on overall document readability and clarity. However, these are not the only factors you should consider.

This paper from the University of Tennessee highlights a few other considerations, such as sentence and paragraph length. It also provides some guidance on using readability statistics to make your documents easier to digest.

Your Law Firm Branding

The legal fonts you choose to incorporate into your documents impact readability and influence how readers perceive your brand. If you want your business to succeed, it is vital that you are purposeful about managing your law firm's brand. Some of the textual elements that influence your brand include the following:

  • Font size and style
  • Text color
  • Logos

Legal professionals like yourself must exhibit consistency across these elements. If the font size and style that you have chosen are big and bold, your logos, imagery, and text color should match this tone.

Showing Your Professionalism

Did you know that consumers form first impressions about law firm websites — or any website for that matter — in just a few seconds? If the first thing that someone sees upon visiting your site is an unprofessional font, tonal inconsistencies, and a lackluster logo, you have probably just lost out on their business.

Conversely, if website visitors are greeted by a dynamic website that incorporates acceptable fonts and consistent style elements, their confidence in your professional abilities will skyrocket. Remember, you only get one opportunity to make a first impression on your target audience. Make sure that it is a good one.

What Is the Best Font for Legal Documents?

Unless you work in a jurisdiction that has established a list of specific, court-approved fonts, you have a great deal of latitude when selecting which fonts to use. While you may be tempted to choose a unique font, keep in mind that readability should be your key priority. On that note, we suggest using a legal font such as:

  • Arial
  • Verdana
  • Baskerville
  • Bookman Old Style
  • Century Family Fonts

As with typeface, there is no official font size for legal documents in most cases. We recommend that you prioritize readability when choosing a font size for legal copy.

Start with a 12-point font and make adjustments as needed. If you find that the 12-point font is too hard to read, increase the size to 14 points. A quality company that provides website services for lawyers can also help!

What Font Is Used in Legal Documents?

What font is used in legal documents?

The majority of fonts used in legal documents are grouped into two broad categories. These font categories include serif fonts and sans serif fonts.

Serif fonts feature decorative tapers at the start and end of each letter. These serif fonts are traditionally used in books, magazines, and newspapers. Serif fonts have a classical look and can help convey the authoritativeness and trustworthiness of the author.

Sans serif fonts are simpler to maximize readability. Most sans serif fonts have a crisp look and each letter has a distinctive beginning and end. While serif fonts are quite appealing to traditionalists and older audiences, sans serif fonts can help you connect with a younger demographic. Sans serif fonts also translate well to digital formats, such as law firm websites.

A few of the most well-known sans serif fonts include:

  • Calibri
  • Concourse
  • Helvetica
  • Century Gothic
  • Guardian Sans

Serif fonts include:

  • Baskerville
  • Georgia
  • Bookman Old Style
  • Verdigris
  • Century Schoolbook

Generally, you should use sans serif fonts exclusively on your law firm's website and other digital channels. However, you can use serif fonts on printed documents.

The Main Elements of Fonts for Legal Documents

After you have chosen between sans serif and serif fonts, you will need to address the other six main elements of fonts for legal documents. These elements include:

Size Color and Contrast Parings for Primary & Secondary Fonts
When it comes to optimizing readability, font size matters more than content. If you make your font size too big, the text will overwhelm readers. On the other hand, if your font size too small, audience members will struggle to read your text. This consideration is especially important if they are viewing your law firm's website content from mobile, which they likely are. According to 2020 data, approximately 68% of global website traffic originated from smartphones or other mobile devices. In light of that, you should write most website content in a 16-point font to ensure optimal readability. Color and contrast will impact the accessibility of your website content. If you select the wrong font colors for your website or do not have enough contrast, audience members who are color blind may not be able to read your content easily. Even readers who can typically differentiate between text colors will struggle to digest your content if you have extreme color and contrast issues. Larger text, such as that found in headers on your website, does not require as much contrast as normal text. However, it is still important to verify that all text on your website has a proper amount of contrast. Alternating between primary and secondary fonts is a great way to liven up your website content. For instance, you could select one font for headers and subheaders and another for normal text. You can even use both serif and sans serif fonts on the same page of your website. However, you must be strategic in your use of these two font styles. Since sans serif fonts are crisper and easier to read, you should consider using them for body copy. You can then use a serif font that is stylistically similar for headings and subheadings.
Bold, Italics,
Underline and Strikethrough
Letter Spacing Line Spacing/Line Height
Using elements like strikethrough, italics, underlines, and bolding can draw a reader's attention to key aspects of your law firm's website. But you should use these empathic elements sparingly because they can make text harder to read. Letter spacing affects the distance between letters. When creating copy for your website or legal documents, you can adjust letter spacing to make your text easier to read. If you begin manipulating this font element, start with incremental changes until you find a distance that maximizes text readability. Letters spacing is also called "kerning." Line spacing affects the amount of space between each line of copy. The majority of copy uses either double spacing or single spacing. Single spacing should be used when the font style and size are already easy to read. Double spacing is a useful tool for increasing readability when typing in a serif font that may not be as easy to read.

What Is the Best Font for Your Law Firm Website?

There is no default font that must be used on all law firm websites. You actually have quite a bit of flexibility when it comes to selecting your website's font. However, you should follow some general rules to ensure that your website copy is readable.

First, you should primarily use sans serif fonts on websites. Sans serif typefaces are crisper and easy to read when viewed electronically. You can use serif fonts in your headers, titles, and subheaders.

Secondly, you will need to use a font that is "web safe." These types of fonts will be displayed correctly regardless of which browser the viewer is using. A few of the most common web-safe fonts include:

  • Garamond
  • Georgia
  • Times New Roman
  • Trebuchet
  • Tahoma
  • Verdana
  • Arial

This list is by no means exhaustive. Instead, it is meant to give you a good starting point when building out your website.

Where Can You Find Free and Paid Legal Documents Fonts?

Free fonts are available via Microsoft Word and Google Docs. Each of these platforms has dozens of different fonts available. They have a good selection of both serif fonts for legal documents and sans serif fonts for website copy. But they definitely don't contain every single font available.

Additionally, you can check out Google Fonts. The font styles on this platform have "open source" licenses. This licensing means that they are free to use on your social media posts, websites, and legal documents.

If you are interested in using a unique font on your website, you may have to pay for it. Premium fonts are available via Linotype and Adobe Fonts. The former allows you to purchase font licenses individually. On the other hand, Adobe requires you to sign up for a paid subscription but provides you access to thousands of fonts.

After you have chosen a font, make sure to reference it in your law firm's style guide. This guide ensures that third-party marketing firms or in-house staff represent your brand consistently when creating advertising materials.

Do You Need to License Your Law Firm's Font?

You will need to license your law firm's font style in some scenarios. However, you will not have to license your font if you choose to use a free font, such as those available via Microsoft Word or Google Docs. These fonts have open-source licenses.

On the other hand, if you choose to use a unique font from one of the sources outlined above, you may need to license your font. Font licensing fees will vary based on several factors, including:

  • How popular the font is
  • How much traffic other font licensees are generating
  • How many people have licensed the font

If a font is extremely popular and appears to be helping other users generate a large volume of web traffic, the license will be more expensive. Generally, font licensing fees can range from as little as $50 to as much as $250 or more per year.

Licensing a font style can help your law firm stand out in the crowded digital marketplace. Therefore, you should strongly consider using a unique font style instead of a free version that is available through your word processing software.

Best Lawyer Fonts: FAQs

  • Can I Use Size 11 Font, or Is It Too Small?

    Size 11 font is appropriate for some applications, such as writing a legal document. On the other hand, it is definitely too small for writing website copy. A size 11 font will be difficult to read when viewed digitally, especially if your audience is accessing the content from a mobile device.

  • What Is the Minimum Font Size I Can Use?

    The smallest font size available on word processing software is 6 points, but you will never use a font that small. The minimum font size you can use for any legal application is 11 points. The minimum font size that you will use on your website will be 16 points or perhaps even 18 points, depending on your font style.

  • What Font Can I Use for a Resume?

    When writing a resume, you can use a font as small as 10.5 points. You can also use 11-point or 12-point fonts, but you should not make your text any larger than that. In terms of font style, you should use sans serif for resumes in order to optimize readability. Times New Roman and Cambria are a few serif fonts that you could use on your resume if you are interested in something more traditional.

  • Which Font Is the Best for Accessibility?

    The best font size for accessibility will vary depending on the application. On websites, you should use a font size no smaller than 16 points. Legal documents can use a font size as small as 10.5 points, provided your style lends itself to optimal readability.

  • What Font Size Should I Use for the Visually Impaired

    When preparing content for the visually impaired, use a font size of at least 16 points. If a 16-point font is impractical, you can reduce the size to 14 points, but you should not go any smaller than that. Also, stick with sans serif fonts so that your audience can more easily read the content.

  • What Is the Best Font for Email?

    There are several standard email fonts, which include Arial, Calibri, Georgia, Lucida, Helvetica, Times New Roman, and Verdana. If your law firm has a standard email font, use that. Otherwise, select a font that is easy to read, professional, and crisp. You should write email copy in a 10.5-point, 11-point, or 12-point font. Avoid using emphatic elements, such as bold, italics, and underlines, whenever possible. These elements can negatively impact readability.

Legal Document Fonts Matter

The bottom line is that legal document fonts matter. The legal fonts that you choose to use will not only impact the readability of your documents, but they will also influence the opinions of prospective clients. Any font and lettering you use on your law firm's website will also profoundly affect the public's perception of your business.

However, choosing fonts for legal documents and your website is only one of many marketing decisions you will have to make as you strive to grow your business.

With that in mind, you should consider partnering with a high-performance law firm digital marketing agency like Grow Law Firm. Contact us today to learn more about our comprehensive lineup of brand-building services.

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    Sasha serves as Managing Partner for Grow Law Firm, a Chicago-based digital marketing agency focused solely on specialized growth strategies for attorneys and their practices.

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