D.C. Court Wants to Erase Garamond Font From Filings
When it comes to fonts and typefaces, everyone has a preference. Maybe you’re a Helvetica person. (So are lots of companies. It’s the most popular typeface in the world.) Maybe you compose documents using Arial or Times New Roman. Or maybe you want to defy convention and use something fancier. If you’re working with the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, that could be a problem.
Recently, the D.C. Circuit issued a notice [PDF] scolding legal professionals for filing paperwork using the Garamond font. The issue, according to the court, is that Garamond “appears smaller” than the more acceptable Century and Times New Roman fonts, making it more difficult to read.
But there’s another, trickier reason the court may be coming down on Garamond. Because the font is smaller than comparable typefaces, it’s possible for lawyers to skirt mandated page limits for court filings. Garamond allows them to fit more text into a page. It’s possible, according to some legal professionals, to shave several pages off a brief if Garamond is employed.
The D.C. Circuit has a point. Garamond is more compact than most fonts. For most appellate filings, its use will shave several pages off a brief. For that reason, it's long been a last resort for page-limited filings. But I could see people thinking it results in eyestrain. 1/2 https://t.co/6iyQP6Y2uu pic.twitter.com/o9W7OAo8jB
— John Elwood (@johnpelwood) March 17, 2021
One possible reason this is becoming an issue now is because more judges are reading filings on screens, where Garamond’s size might be a little more difficult to decipher.
Garamond was created by French engraver Claude Garamond in the 16th century and is likely familiar to readers of the Harry Potter and Hunger Games book franchises.
The D.C. Circuit “encourages” the use of Century or Times New Roman in 14-point typeface with serif, which refers to the wings on letters. While it’s not an outright ban, the notice goes on to say that “evasion of the length limitations may result in the court’s rejection of the brief.” Those who defy the judges’ preferences may get a letter of rejection in return—most likely written in Times New Roman.