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
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
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:
- 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?
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:
- Century Gothic
- Guardian Sans
Serif fonts include:
- Bookman Old Style
- 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:
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:
- Times New Roman
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
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.