Tips for Formatting Your Expert Witness Report

[SEAK is the expert witness training company. The following clip has been excerpted from SEAK’s course, How to Start, Build, and Run a Successful Expert Witness Practice. Thank you for watching.]

So let’s talk about some formatting techniques, and then let’s show some examples. So for our examples, we’re going to use some examples from a SEAK’s textbook on expert witness report writing.

All right. First thing that we see, font size. You want to use an 11 or 12 point font at a minimum to make it easy to read. You do not want to have this tiny little font and everything crunched together so that people who are middle-aged like me can’t read the damn thing without getting a headache or a magnifying glass. So this is the exact same language up here as it is down here. Make it easy on the user, use a nice, big font, and we see this all the time.

You want to use topic headings. Why? Because it makes it easier for both you and a third-party reader to find what you need in the report. So here’s a typical report that we’ll see, and it’s just a jumbled mess, just copy after copy after copy is very hard to use because you can’t get to where you need to be because there’s no topic headings.

So a better way to proceed is to break things up with these topic headings, “Documents reviewed,” “History of Injury,” “Initial Treatment,” “Physical Therapy.” So that the conclusions, “Returned to work,” so that both yourself and whoever the reader may be can find what they need, and it’s user-friendly. It’s easy to use, easy to read.

“Table of Contents,” if you have a longer report, maybe over 25, 30 pages, something like that, add a table of contents. It’s a nice touch, and it will make it easier for the user, and it will make you look more professional, polished, and more of an anal retentive, obsessive-compulsive nut job, which is what you want.

And Microsoft Word has a nice feature, easy to learn. It will do it for you automatically, and just it will give references to your headers. And what you have here, the items of the Table of Contents are the headers of this particular expert use in this report.

Another thing that you can do, if you choose, is add a nice, professional-looking cover. And we’ve got some color here. This report signed at the beginning, which is nice. Here’s an appraisal report. They have a photograph of the home that was appraised right on there. Nice touch.

And definitely don’t need to do this, I mean, in terms of having photographs and colors, but a nice cover page can be a nice touch. It will set your report apart. It doesn’t really add any substance to the report, but it is visually pleasing, and it looks like you took the time to care to make it nice-looking.

The other thing is once you figure out a format for yourself or procedure of how you’re going to do covers, it’s easy. It’s just the first time you have to create one. After that, you just crank them out.

Spacing. Don’t use single spacing because single spacing is difficult to read. You’re much better off, just not easy to read, using space and a half. It’s just easier to digest. You know, typically what expert witnesses are reading is not really a real page-turner, and it’s going to be difficult reading to start with. It’s highly technical stuff. Make it easy on your reader. Space and a half if you could. Easy thing to do on Word.

SEAK is the expert witness training company. What you have just seen has been excerpted from SEAK’s course, “How to Start, Build, and Run a Successful Expert Witness Practice.” Thank you for watching.