I relish the warmth of a freshly printed brief and the texture of the bond paper on which it is printed. But your audience–an appellate judge–may well be reading your brief on an iPad or tablet. Should the medium change the substance in any way?
According to an article in the Columbia Business Law Review, the answer is yes. For one, a reader zooming in on a particular block of text may then have a hard time scrolling down to a footnote and back. Second, some fonts that are legible on paper are less so on the screen. Third, conventional heading hierarchies (I., A., 1., etc.) can be difficult to follow on an iPad, while “scientific numbered” headings (1.1, 1.2, 1.2.1, 1.2.2) are easier to follow.
I agree that the use of footnotes should be minimized. Indeed, one of our North Carolina appellate jurists told me this same thing recently–footnotes just don’t work on an iPad. As for fonts, I’m curious to know if any reader has a preferred “all purpose” font that works well on paper and on the screen. Finally, as much as I love the precision of the scientific numbering for headings, I fear that the fact that it is rarely used in appellate briefs would make its sudden appearance in a brief more distracting than helpful.
As always, we welcome your thoughts in the comments section.