How to Format Court Documents

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When you give documents to a Washington state court, it is important to format the documents correctly. This document outlines the rules you must follow. #9938EN

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Yes, if you are doing your own court papers for a court case in Washington State.


  • You must use letter-sized (8½ x 11 inches) white paper.
  • You must write or type on only one side of the page.
  • All handwriting must be printed, readable, and in black or dark blue ink.
  • The 1st page must have a margin of at least 3 inches from the top and 1 inch from the other 3 sides. Each page after that must have at least 1 inch for each margin.
  • Your papers should not have any highlighting or colored marking.

You can read the rules about how to format your court papers at Civil Rule 10(e).

It depends. The Court Clerk's office may fine you. Or they may reject and return your papers. This could cause you to miss a court deadline.

For many different kinds of cases, the AOC created forms you must or should use (called mandatory forms and pattern forms). Using an AOC-created form is easier than creating your own form. The AOC may change (update) forms after the law changes or for other reasons.

Yes. Pattern forms are available for many commonly used documents. If you use a pattern form, you will know the format is correct.

Before using a pattern form, make sure it is the latest version.

The revision date (the last date the form was updated) is in the footer in the lower left corner of the form, just above the form number.


RCW 26.09.020; 26.60.100

Mandatory Form (06/2020)

FL Divorce 201

Your county's superior court may have its own forms you should use. Get those from the clerk and/or at the law library.

* The Administrative Office of Court website's forms should be current.
  • The court may fine you.
  • The clerk may return your documents to you without filing them.
  • The clerk may determine that your paper or material is improper or inappropriate for filing or scanning. The court may order the paper sealed or converted to an exhibit.

You want to look make sure there is nothing in your papers that might cause the clerk to reject your papers. Here are some things you should check for:

  • All captions match the case title.
  • You have filled out the case caption wherever needed.
  • The case number is correct wherever you have put it.
  • You have included all pages of each document.
  • You scheduled a hearing on a day the judge is available to hear it.
  • You put the parties' names on the case caption in the correct order.
  • Your papers are formatted correctly.
  • If you are trying to file an order, decree, judgment, or bond, make sure that the judge has signed it.
  • You do not have to file discovery documents (read How to use written questions and requests for documents in a family law case to learn more at

If your county has a family law facilitator, they may be able to help you.

Get Legal Help

Visit Northwest Justice Project to find out how to get legal help. 

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Last Review and Update: Feb 17, 2022
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