Good writing has a look

by Jamison Koehler on September 13, 2019
D.C. criminal defense lawyer

I have a new font:  Century Schoolbook.  My writing has improved already.

My wife laughs when she hears me rave about the discovery. I hope you realize how nerdy that sounds, she says.    

My wife has always loved me for my nerdiness.  

You won’t notice the new font on this website.  That’s because the website has a different default font.  But you will find it on all my hardcopy written products going forward.

I stole the font from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.  I knew there was a reason their appellate briefs read better than mine.  So I emailed opposing counsel with my odd question. She did not seem surprised.  Maybe she too is a nerd.  

Good writing has a sound. 

When I was growing up, I would come downstairs after writing a paper to read it to my parents.  It was not that they offered corrections.  They only listened.  Then they nodded their heads and reassured me that whatever I had written was great.  

But there was something about hearing myself speak the words that helped me find the right language. To this day – now! – I speak the words as I type them.  You hear the emphasis.  You find the right cadence.

Good writing also has a feel and a taste.  That is where the font comes in.  You could compare Century Schoolbook to a fine wine.  It has body.  It is not jumbled or cramped together.  It flows. It soothes the mind.  It does not try too hard.  And I like the way it looks.

2 Comments on “Good writing has a look

  1. I do like Century Schoolbook. So does the Supreme Court.

    SCOTUS rules require the text of every “booklet-format document” to be in one of the Century fonts. The Ohio Supreme Court rules authorize several fonts, Century not among them. (Among the approved fonts, I like Palatino Linotype best.) The intermediate appellate court where I file most of my briefs requires Georgia.

    You’d think there might be uniform standards. Then again, you’d think I could use the same username and password for e-filing in all federal courts (or all Ohio courts for that matter). You’d be wrong about that, too.

    A study some years ago reported in the NY Times concluded that of the several fonts tested Baskerville was the most convincing.

  2. Jeff Gamso!

    Speaking of good writing . . . It has been a long time since you have commented on this site. Great to have you back. I had no idea about the Century fonts. Looks like I am in good company.

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