As an arbitration lawyer, the power of the written word is essential to your work. However, there is another factor that often gets overlooked – typography. Typography is the art of arranging letters to make text legible, clear, and visually appealing to the reader. It involves font style, point sizes, line lengths, line-spacing, and page layout. In essence, typography is what brings a text to life. It is the visual component of the written word, and it can be a powerful tool in arbitration advocacy.
The goal of advocacy is persuasion. Attention is a precondition for persuasion. Once the tribunal’s attention evaporates, your argument will not persuade. Typography is a tool to conserve the tribunal’s attention and thus enable you to persuade. Good typography helps your tribunal devote less attention to the mechanics of reading and more attention to your message. On the other hand, bad typography will divert your tribunal’s attention and undermine your message.
Aside from conserving the tribunal’s attention, good typography also reflects professionalism. Before reading the first sentence of your submission, the tribunal will glance over the submitted text. This is the first impression that your submission will make on the tribunal, and first impressions matter.
Consistency is key in typography. Use the same font and point size for the main text, format headings according to their hierarchical position and apply uniform page margins throughout the document. By making small adjustments to the typography of your submissions, you can increase the legibility of your text and thus the attention your arbitrator will lend to your words. Some suggestions on how optimal typography can make your submission visually more appealing to the tribunal:
The Right Font: Choose a font that is easy to read, such as Arial or Times New Roman. If you want to be more creative, you can consider fonts like Garamond, Helvetica, or Gill Sans MT. Equity is a font that was specifically designed for legal writers.
Emphasizing Words: Underlining or setting words in all caps makes text harder to read. Use bold or italic to emphasize words. Use bold for emphasis in sans serif fonts like Arial, and use italics for gentle emphasis in serif fonts like Times New Roman.
Point Size: Depending on your font, choose a point size between 11 (Arial) and 12 (Times New Roman) for optimal ease of reading. However, you can increase or decrease point size slightly for certain parts of your text to establish an information hierarchy.
In conclusion, typography is a tool that can help arbitration lawyers persuade the tribunal by conserving the tribunal’s attention and conveying professionalism. Let’s remember, the written word is powerful, and with good typography, it can be even more persuasive.