This page is part of our instructions for drafting your own simple will under the laws of Washington State. We wrote these instructions for a very specific audience, and they may be completely wrong as applied to you.

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Formatting and Review

Once you have followed all of the other instructions and have finished drafting your simple will, you should follow these instructions to properly format the final draft for printing. Of course, before you print, you should also perform at least one final review of these instructions and the document to make sure your simple will is exactly right.


You should follow each of these formatting instructions to ensure that your simple will looks the way it should. These formatting instructions are not merely to give your simple will a professional appearance; they are also intended to reduce the likelihood of somebody challenging your simple will in a will contest due to an error in how your will is formatted.

Footer Adjustments

Our simple will template includes a footer that appears at the bottom of every page. It states the title of your simple will and the page number, and it includes a place for you to write your initials. You should edit the footer of your copy of the simple will to add your name. Do not edit the page numbers or the place for your initials.

Formatting: Footer

Last Will & Testament of [Your Full Name], Page 1 of 6

The footer of a simple will of a testator named Susan Mae Smith should look like this:

Last Will & Testament of Susan Mae Smith, Page 1 of 6

No Header

A header is text that appears on a page above all the other text of that page, usually appearing at the top of every page of a document. As with a footer, most types of word processing software will allow you to insert a header that will appear at the top of each page in a document. There should not be a header in your simple will. Our simple will template does not include a header, and you should not add one.

Page Margins

Margins are the blank white space at the edges of a page, above, below, and to the left and right of the text. Margins create white space that frames the text of a page, making it easier to read. Margins on the left and right side of the page also affect how many words will fit on a single line of text. Larger margins allow fewer words per line than smaller margins.

Our simple will template has 1-inch margins on the top of the page and 1.25-inch margins on the left and right edges of the page, which we believe are reasonable margins for a will. The template has a 0.5-inch margin on the bottom edge of the page, which is a bit small, but it permits more lines to fit on each page than a larger margin would allow. It may be tempting to increase or decrease the size of these margins so you can fit more words on each page or otherwise manipulate how the text appears. We encourage you not to adjust the margins. If you decide to adjust the margins anyways, we encourage you to keep your simple will easily readable by not to reducing the top, left, or right margins to less than 1 inch, nor reducing the bottom margin to anything smaller than its existing 0.5-inch setting.

Testator or Testatrix?

A testator is the legal word for a person who makes a will. If the person is a woman, she can be called a testatrix instead. Any person who makes a will can be called a testator, regardless of the person’s gender, but the word testatrix refers specifically to a female testator. If you are a woman and prefer to refer to yourself in your simple will as a testatrix, you may do so by finding and replacing every instance of the word testator with the word testatrix. If you choose to make this change, be sure to maintain the correct capitalization of each instance of the word once it is changed.

This step is entirely optional.

Paragraph Numbering

Our simple will template has a very specific paragraph numbering format that you should maintain in your simple will. The heading of each article is a single digit followed by a period. For example the second article is numbered as 2. FAMILY. All of the paragraphs within an article should begin with their own number, which is made up of the number of the containing article followed by a period, followed by another digit, starting with 1, then 2, then 3, etc. For example, the first paragraph under article 4. GIFTS should be paragraph 4.1; the second paragraph would be paragraph 4.2, followed by paragraph 4.3, and so on until all the paragraphs under article 4. GIFTS have been numbered.

There is an exception to this numbering rule. If any article contains only one paragraph, that paragraph should not be numbered at all. For example, article 1. REVOCATION OF PRIOR WILLS AND CODICILS only contains one paragraph, which does not have its own paragraph number.

Go through each article of your copy of the simple will template and adjust the paragraph numbers, if necessary, according to these paragraph numbering rules.

Choosing a Font

A will is an important legal document, and the text of a will should be written in a font that reflects the seriousness of the document, such as Garamond, Georgia, Times New Roman, or Times Roman. Fortunately, most computers come with at least one or two of these fonts already installed.

Our simple will template comes with the font set to Times New Roman.1 We recommend that you use one of these listed fonts or a very similar font for every word and every character in your simple will. If you do not have any of these fonts installed on your computer, you should choose a serif font from among those installed on your computer. It should not be necessary to purchase a new font as long as the font you choose looks similar to Times New Roman.

If you choose a font other than one of the fonts we listed, be sure to avoid all monospaced fonts (such as Courier), whimsical fonts (such as Comic Sans), and script fonts (those made to look like they were written by hand). Monospaced, whimsical, and script fonts are hard to read, and they tend to eliminate any appearance of seriousness of a document.

Font Size and Effects

The text of your simple will should be written in a standard font size, one that is easily readable, but not unreasonably large. Remember that a judge, your personal representatives, and your beneficiaries may all read your simple will at some time or other. We recommend setting the font size to 12 or 12.5 points, though a little smaller or a little larger is fine. It is also appropriate to use a slightly larger font, such as 14 points, for the title of the simple will on the first page and the title of the affidavit on the last page.

We encourage you not to add any extra formatting effects to the fonts in your will, apart from those that appeared in our instructions. In other words, do not add additional bolding, underlining, or italicization to any words. Adding unnecessary font effects serves no helpful purpose, but it does make a legal document more difficult to read, so we discourage it.

Line Spacing and Paragraph Spacing

Line spacing is the distance between lines of text. Paragraph spacing is the distance between separate paragraphs. Line spacing and paragraph spacing can have a big impact on how a document looks. There is no one right way to set line spacing and paragraph spacing in a will; rather, it is a choice to be made based on personal taste. Unless you have a strong opinion on the matter, we recommend that you leave the default line spacing and paragraph spacing in the simple will template as it is. In any case, in a simple will you should not set line spacing to more than double-spaced, and you should not set paragraph spacing to more than the point size of the font you are using.

Orphan Headings

An orphan heading is a heading that appears by itself at the bottom of a page, separated by a new page from the text it introduces. The headings in a simple will are the names of the various articles of the will, which are the numbered lines with bold text written in all capital letters. This, for example, is one of the headings in a simple will:


If this heading were at the bottom of the page, and paragraph 5.1 fell on the next page, this heading would be an orphan heading. We encourage you to eliminate orphan headings in your simple will.

After your simple will is fully drafted and the margins, font, line spacing, and paragraph spacing are set in their final form, you should look through your simple will to see if there are any orphan headings. If you find any, you can add blank lines or a page break in front of each orphan heading to push it onto the next page so that it is together with the text it introduces. This step is optional, but we think it adds a polished appearance to any legal document.

Signatures on the Same Page

After all of the above formatting is complete, you may find that the line for your signature (including the place above it for writing the date) and the lines for the witnesses’ signatures are not all together on the same page, but they need to be. Locate your signature line and the line above it where the date will be written and check to see if they are on the same page as the witnesses’ signature lines. If these parts of your simple will are split between two pages, you should add blank lines or a page break in front of the line above your signature where the date will be written so that all of these parts are pushed onto a single page together. In other words, all of this text needs to be on the same page:

 DATED this _____ day of __________, [year].


We, the undersigned, certify that on this date the Testator, [YOUR FULL LEGAL NAME], signed the foregoing document as and for the Testator’s Last Will and Testament in our presence, and that we, at the Testator’s request, in the Testator’s presence and in the presence of each other, have signed our names hereto as subscribing witnesses.

DATED at [City], Washington, this _______ day of __________, [year].


If when adding a page break or additional blank lines you find that you have created more than an inch of empty white space at the bottom of the page, you should add an explanation that the rest of the page was intentionally left blank. To do so, place the following text in that empty white space:

The rest of this page was intentionally left blank.

Once you have made this last formatting adjustment, your simple will is ready for a final review.

Final Review

You have reached the end of the drafting portion of these instructions. Before you move on to the next part of the instructions, which explains the signing process for a simple will, you should take a moment to re-read your drafted simple will, line-by-line. Make sure that each part of the document reflects your wishes. There should be no text in the simple will that you did not examine while drafting and editing the document. There should certainly no longer be any [bracketed text] in the document, as the brackets are indicators of placeholders for necessary text you should have filled in. There should also be no text in the document that you do not understand. If you have any doubts about whether you drafted the document correctly, you should ask a lawyer to review it with you.

Once you are sure that your draft of the simple will correctly reflects your intent, double-check to ensure that you did not misspell anything, including the full legal names of any of the people mentioned in the document.

If you correct any errors or make any other changes during the final review, you will need to look again for orphan headings and to ensure that your signature area is on the same page as the signature area for the witnesses.

Once you have finished adjusting the formatting of your simple will and performing the final review, go back to the list of instructions and check the box at the bottom of the page to continue.
Back to the List

  1. We realize that there are many great fonts out there that are not as tired as Times New Roman. If the common fonts we listed are beneath your taste and you know a professional, serious-looking serif font that you prefer, go for it. Our assumption is that most of the people following these instructions are not font enthusiasts. The fonts we listed are free and will get the job done.