Use Space in Documents

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IMLA Appellate Practice Blog  - February 14, 2014.

Legal documents contain many words, often too many, but that’s not all. Legal documents contain open space or white space between the captions and the text, as well as above, below and on the sides of block quotes, lists and bullets.Gavel Attorneys focus on the words and sometimes pay no attention to the white space even though it can make significant difference in the readability of the document.

Unless you are working under a page limit and the burden of too much to say in too few pages, don’t feel obligated to cram your words into the smallest space possible.

  • Open space separating the headings and sections in the document can make it much easier to read.
  • Indents for bullets or for subsections can show graphically the relationship of certain material to what goes before or follows it.
  • Given readers’ dislike for block quotes, liberal use of white space above, below and on the sides of block quotes can make them easier to read.
  • A blank line after each footnote when several appear on one page can make footnotes enough easier to read that some will actually be read.

Don’t hesitate to open up the space in your documents so that they are appealing to the eye when the circumstances allow.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Brian Turner (creative-commons license, no changes made).

* This blog post was originally published in IMLA Appellate Practice Blog, February 14, 2014. Republished with permission.