6 Replies Latest reply on Jan 19, 2016 2:24 PM by Willi Adelberger

    InDesign for Court Documents


      We use InDesign for all of our documents we file in court. Say what you will about our arguments but at least we look a lot better than the other side doing theirs in M$ Word.


      I am curious whether others are doing the same. Obviously not a lot of people are because nearly everything I see is a M$ Word document formatted in Times New Roman (except in the SC which requires Century-something); even then not formatted very well. Even in the Supreme Court, where the stakes are high and you are paying thousands to get a bound volume, most of the filings look like do-do.


      I was thinking about this today because earlier I was going through the Exhibitor List for LegalTech and I was cleaning out my email and found some exchanges I had had with Adobe folks suggesting that InDesign should be promoted in the legal because it is a wide open market (and not getting an enthusiastic reception). A couple of years ago there was an Adobe Booth at Legal tech (I forgot what they were promoting but it was not InDesign) but they have not been back.


      In ye old days before M$ Word, lawyers sent such documents out to printers for formatting. Now they do it themselves and get poor results.


      I was wondering if there were others out there who do as we do. If there is a critical mass, maybe it would be worth linking up.

        • 1. Re: InDesign for Court Documents
          BobLevine MVP & Adobe Community Professional

          Word is an excellent word processor. InDesign is an excellent pagelayout application.




          I’ve seen great stuff come of Word and I’ve seen absolute crap come out of InDesign. It’s not about the applications, it’s about the proper use of the right tools for the right job.

          • 2. Re: InDesign for Court Documents
            Fred12345999 Level 1

            In this case, there is a lot of crap coming out of Word and very little coming out of InDesign.

            • 3. Re: InDesign for Court Documents
              Dov Isaacs Adobe Employee

              Expanding on Bob Levine's succinct comments and as someone who uses InDesign for virtually all text-based document work, except when I am required to use Word (such as for ISO standards documents)…


              In terms of any perceivable objective quality difference between the resultant PDF files of legal documents produced in Microsoft Word versus InDesign, differences would most likely be due more to the training and discipline of those keying and formatting the documents than the tools themselves. There is virtually nothing in the requirements for typical legal documents that requires the sophistication and capabilities that InDesign provides over Word.


              Word has a relatively gentle learning curve although accessing certain advanced features may be an exercise in frustration. InDesign has a very steep learning curve, but once one has gotten past that learning curve and maintains discipline in use of InDesign with proper use of Paragraph, Character, Table, and Object styles as well as named colors, accessing advanced features is relatively easy.


              However, what I will observe is that InDesign users who have mastered the product are more likely to be conscious of use of typography, formatting, and the general “look” of their documents simply because of that emphasis in Adobe products and the propensity of such persons to be care about output quality. And those InDesign users would also be much more likely to produce gorgeous legal documents using Word because they would look for and use comparable, albeit somewhat hidden, formatting and style definitions in Word and (such as pair kerning, ligatures, etc.)


              All that having been said, in reality, if you are in a law practice and you need to often bring in “temps” to work on legal documents, requiring proficiency in InDesign might be very limiting in terms of finding suitable personnel and/or you may have a disaster on your hand when someone not trained in InDesign tries to edit existing or especially create new legal documents in InDesign.


              Of course, if you want your law practice to produce some great marketing / promo material, then InDesign is the more appropriate tool. 


                        - Dov

              • 4. Re: InDesign for Court Documents
                Derek Cross Adobe Community Professional

                What an elegant and knowledgeable reply!

                • 5. Re: InDesign for Court Documents
                  BobLevine MVP & Adobe Community Professional

                  You have a much more limited sampling than I do. I can assure you of that.

                  • 6. Re: InDesign for Court Documents
                    Willi Adelberger Most Valuable Participant

                    I think you should also consider to use Adobe FrameMaker for legal documents as it has strong capabilities in dividing content and formatting and has some formatting neither InDesign nor Word have like fixed numbered tabulators (contrary position relative in InDesign), inline paragraphs (a paragraph which produces no new line in the beginning), marginal text without an anchored frame, very complicated numberings are possible etc.  But it is difficult to learn and only available on the Windows side at the moment.