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‘Legal Font Wars’: Supreme Court’s switch to Calibri sparks debate among lawyers

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Calibri v Times New Roman

The Supreme Court has switched to using the font Calibri in its judgments sparking a “legal font war” among lawyers on Twitter.

Legal commentator Joshua Rozenberg spotted the top court’s switch in typeface earlier this week, suggesting the move is an attempt to “improve readability/accessibility”.

The Supreme Court used Times New Roman in the decided cases published on its website until early October when it switched to Calibri.

Naturally, lawyers were quick to offer their views on this major legal development.

Family law barrister Alexander Chandler of 1KBW tweeted:

“Major development in the Legal Font Wars. Does this signal an end to the tyranny of Times New Roman? Is the future Sans Serif? I say yes.”

St Philips commercial barrister Iqbal Mohammed was also in favour of the new font, writing “about time!” and that it is “much easier to read”. He said that fonts such as Times New Roman and Garamond are preferred in legal documents because “they look ‘more serious'”, adding: “If you think your font will make your arguments appear serious, you’re wrong.”

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Another Twitter user waded into the debate saying the font change was done “no doubt to improve legibility” but as a result, “the page looks uglier”, while one user joked: “Is there any way to judicially review this decision? And who has jurisdiction?”

Former lawyer James Wilson said: “From my perspective it certainly doesn’t improve readability. I can’t see the traditional law reports following suit anytime soon.”

Love it or loathe it the Calibri font has been the default font across Microsoft Office since 2007, when it replaced Times New Roman. Yet, in April this year, Microsoft announced that it planned to “evolve” and replace the font to one of five new options.

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20 Comments

Century Schoolbook

They should switch to Century Schoolbook, like SCOTUS.

(11)(1)

MICHAEL BOLTON

At last it’s not Comic Sans!!!!

(0)(0)

Al

Just to be nerdy, I’ve been told off by graphics people for calling them fonts. Apparently font just relates to how big the letters are; the different styles are typefaces.

I wonder if anyone dares do a “well, actually…” to the Supreme Court?

(24)(0)

aiiiiiiiileen

A typeface is basically a font family.

(0)(0)

Name

Comic Sans next plz

(33)(0)

Alan

Arial or you’re a psychopath.

(24)(6)

Anonyme

Arial if you’re a psychopath

(14)(8)

Yuck

(1)(0)

Pongus

Until the advent of the computer, it was Courier New (typewriter) that was the default, wasn’t it?

(7)(0)

Moody

If you had a golf ball style typewriter, you could get several fonts by getting a new golf ball. Remember using Times AND Helvetica, but not in the same document.

(0)(0)

Al

In perhaps a more serous vein, there have been occasions where court offices have rejected pleadings and skeletons for not being in a large enough font, or double spaced.

And that’s led to some (disallowed) relief from sanctions applications. Ouch.

(1)(1)

Anna

Times New Roman is horrible. Every firm I have come across that uses it are tiny, tin pot firms run by dinosaurs that use excessive Latin, flowery language and are 100 years behind in every way.

(11)(18)

Anonymous

Every comment you ever post on this site is negative. I haven’t seen a single comment from you that doesn’t involve criticism.

(17)(2)

LW

We use it at Latham

(1)(0)

Catullus

Prima facie, what’s wrong with legal Latin?

(7)(2)

Hackaforte

Stilk v Myrick.
Somersett’s Case.
Entick v Carrington.

What unites these seminal cases?

There’s only one answer.

The only way is Caslon.

(4)(0)

Hmmmm

Imagine taking time away from your large circle of great friends, beautiful appreciative family and loving wife to tweet to strangers on the internet about typefaces????

(15)(1)

Moody

If you had a golf ball style typewriter, you could get several fonts by getting a new golf ball. Remember using Times AND Helvetica, but not in the same document.

(0)(0)

Old person born in the 80s

My Dad had a word processor in the 90s (remember them- they were like an electric typewriter with a pop up screen and a floppy disc drive).

It had a built in Daisywheel printer that sounded like a machine gun when it printed.

He had three daisy wheels, which meant you could print in three different fonts!

(0)(0)

The Rayleigh Rocket

Arial for headings, TNR for the rest. Anything else is madness.

(1)(4)

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