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Macro-Typography of Deeds: 3

Lists in Deeds

One of the greatest advances in 20th century macro-typography was the spread of the bulleted list. The organizational principle has been familiar to lawyers for hundreds of years, with each recurring statement being prefixed by the Latin term item meaning "moreover". But it is only today that we have a graphic way of displaying itemized lists so that their structure is plain at first glance. This allows us to "retrofit" old documents. Look at an example from the year 1575: a typography based on headings and a bulleted-list greatly improves its legibility.

Note that nothing other than the headings has been added to the original, painstaking transcript in which Peter Alefounder used a variety of HTML entities (symbols beyond the 26-letter alphabet) to represent the handwritten document as faithfully as possible. The bullets have not been inserted into the source text: they are automatically created by the browser program every time the page is loaded. The only change has been to rearrange the text into aligned blocks on the page for greater clarity: every "Item..." was enclosed in <LI> tags; the legacies section as a whole was defined as a <UL> element.

Here is a possible set of styles for such a list. The most important features are (1) to include both left margin and left padding values to satisfy the different needs of MS Internet Explorer and the Mozilla/Netscape browsers, and (2) a specification of a list-style-type that can be carried over to sub-lists. margin: 0px 0px 0px 3em;
padding-left: 3em;
list-style-position: inside;
list-style-type: disc;}

By the 19th century, it was no longer usual among English legal draftsmen to iterate the legacies with the item notation, but the 21st-century typographer can nonetheless unite wills from different historical periods by treating the core part of the will, the disposition of the estate, as a list, or <UL> element in HTML.

In 20th-century wills, this core list is often obscured by the fact that the document is presented as a sequence of numbered paragraphs, but the item-oriented typography can be imposed over this without falsifying the original. Here is the fictitious modern-style example in which the bullet draws the eye to the bequest. If only one bequest is made, even this is, for mark-up purposes, a list: it consists of just one item.

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Examples: • HeadingsTwo Sub-HeadingsThree Sub-HeadingsThe Core as ListSingle-Item ListExpanding TextRun-In HeadingsCompilationVariation