Do Judges Read Online Briefs Differently? Brief Writers May Need to Be Briefer

As more courts require e-filing, lawyers may need to adjust their writing style to account for differences in the way people read online.
 
That’s the conclusion of Houston appellate lawyer Martin Siegel in an article for Texas Lawyer.

Online readers “jump around, skimming and seizing on bits of text,” Siegel writes. “Eye-tracking studies show they seek content in an F-shaped pattern, looking down the left side for structural cues and then focusing on headings and first sentences of paragraphs. Heaven help the content provider with important text consigned to the bottom right of the screen.”

Siegel cites a book by Houston appellate lawyer Robert Dubose and a law review article by University of Dayton law professor Maria Crist. Dubose says lawyers writing with online readers in mind should put their most important points in headings and first sentences of paragraphs, use bullet points, and quickly get to the point. Similarly, Crist endorses short paragraphs and condensing chunks of information into smaller pieces.

To read the entire article, visit the ABA Journal: www.abajournal.com/news/article

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