Monday, August 22, 2011

Georgia on my mind (alternative title: The Dullest Blog Post You May Ever Read)

TBA has been wrapped up in the day job lately, filing 3 briefs in 2 weeks. As loyal readers will recall, the vices of Times New Roman have weighed upon us, but we felt stuck with it because of its compactness and accessibility.

Here lately we've been using Georgia, which certain purists say is fine for the computer screen but not on paper. Call us unsophisticated, but we think it looks good either way. 12-pt Georgia uses little more space than 12-pt TNR, and less than the 13-pt TNR we were using in pleadings, while looking every bit as legible as the 13-pt TNR due to its taller x-height. It's noticeably different from TNR, but not so different as to give the impression I'm dialing in from a commune in the 9th Circuit.

Because Georgia was commissioned by Microsoft, it's about as ubiquitous as Arial (i.e., your computer probably has it pre-installed -- if you didn't want to pay $100 for a font). But the Evil Empire did well in this instance by its choice of designer, the talented Matthew Carter.

Try your next brief in Georgia and see how you like it!


This sentence is a sample of Georgia per NMC in comments. My HTML code is changing the face but not the size, so for some reason it looks smaller; the effect on the page is that it looks larger than the corresponding size of Times New Roman.

(As you can see, I fixed the size problem.)


  1. I'd like to see some text in Georgia-- the Wikipedia link made it seem a decent font, but didn't sell me. I have to read some text to be sure.

    I would seriously be curious about your reaction to Garamond, which is the one I use. My goal in fonts is the same as my goal in writing: The reader goes along without thinking, just having a pleasant experience with both style and layout. The "window pane" thing. Although, oddly, I love using a shift to more or less vernacular for rhetorical effect.

  2. oh, and if you are going to froth about boring font posts, I have to ask:

    Do you do two spaces after a period?

  3. I used to, having learned that in typing class, but I'm trying to quit -- though since I don't turn on hyphenation (too annoying while I'm typing), I might should keep with it.

    The "purists" link gives you a good sample. That guy's book is really great -- a friend loaned me his copy. You won't agree with everything he says, but you'll pick up some ideas.

    Agree re: window pane (Tolstoy is like that), with occasional attempts at gentle humor to alleviate the burden. I like short sentences and paragraphs for emphasis.

    ... Garamond: it's a classic, but a little delicate for my taste, which Georgia definitely is not. Certainly nothing wrong with it, but my fear is that it tires the eyes out after 25 pages or so. I love how visible Georgia is. (I'll send you a brief in it.)

  4. ... I also notice that Garamond adds a page or two to a 50-page brief (at least, in WP it does) compared to Georgia.

  5. Georgia is my reigning favorite serif font, as it's the only one that moves gracefully between screen and paper. Needs a little extra leading between lines, though, for best effect (at least on my display). Matthew Carter is right up there with Hermann Zapf, IMHO.

  6. I will have to put a note at the end of each brief, "This typeface endorsed by Jim."

    I love Zapf's Palatino, but it eats space, and looks hideous onscreen in WP.

  7. Yesterday I was working on a reply to a brief written in a sans serif font. By a big law firm. What is wrong with these people?

  8. I personally *like* some sans-serif typefaces, but yeah, their time is not yet come.

    (Gill Sans, CG Omega -- I like Futura too, but more for headings.)

  9. I love sans serif typefaces, esp. Helvetica, but everyone knows (or should) that you don't use them for the body of your book or brief. I read 4-5 books a week which requires a lot of books but I won't touch one with a crappy typeface. (Tried the Kindle; broke two. Apparently you aren't supposed to drop them).

  10. I've become enamored of "Linux Libertine G," because it passes the "whazzat?" test and looks great. I also like it because the "G" in the name means that it is encoded with the SIL Graphite extensions, which allow for more advanced engraving features such as automatic ligatures. It also has dedicated "smallcaps" glyphs.

    If you like New Century Schoolbook, there's an extended version in OpenType called "TeX Gyre Schola." It's available here:

  11. Do I want SIL Graphite extensions?

  12. re: Graphite
    It's one of a couple "smart font" technologies that allow text rendering engines to use more advanced features, such as the aforementioned automatic ligatures.

    For more information than you could ever want about text rendering and common word processors, check this out:

    OpenType is a far mroe common "smart font" implementation than Graphite, but unlike OpenType, Graphite is supported "out of the box" by OpenOffice. So while LaTeX is still the gold standard of document engraving, Graphite allows OpenOffice to get pretty close.