Rule 10 – Form of Pleadings

(a) Caption; Names of Parties. Every pleading must have a caption with the court’s name, a title, a file number, and a Rule 7(a) designation. The title of the complaint must name all the parties; the title of other pleadings, after naming the first party on each side, may refer generally to other parties.

(b) Paragraphs; Separate Statements. A party must state its claims or defenses in numbered paragraphs, each limited as far as practicable to a single set of circumstances. A later pleading may refer by number to a paragraph in an earlier pleading. If doing so would promote clarity, each claim founded on a separate transaction or occurrence—and each defense other than a denial—must be stated in a separate count or defense.

(c) Adoption by Reference; Exhibits. A statement in a pleading may be adopted by reference elsewhere in the same pleading or in any other pleading or motion. A copy of a written instrument that is an exhibit to a pleading is a part of the pleading for all purposes.

Summary and Explanation

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 10 outlines the form that pleadings and other documents must follow in federal court cases. It sets standards for the organization, formatting, and presentation of documents to ensure clarity, uniformity, and professionalism in legal filings. Here’s a summary and explanation of its main provisions:

1. Caption Requirement

  • Every pleading must have a caption with the court’s name, a title, a file number, and a Rule 7(a) designation (e.g., complaint, answer). The title of the document should include the names of all the parties, and for subsequent documents, it may suffice to state the name of the first party on each side with an appropriate indication of other parties.

2. Names of Parties

  • The names of all parties must be stated in the initial complaint, and any new parties must be added in subsequent pleadings. This ensures that the record clearly reflects who is involved in the case.

3. Paragraphs; Separate Statements

  • Pleadings must be divided into paragraphs, with each paragraph addressing a single set of circumstances if possible, to enhance readability and organization. Further, each claim founded on a separate transaction or occurrence, and each defense, should be stated in a separate count or defense when doing so would promote clarity.

4. Adoption by Reference; Exhibits

  • Statements in a document may be adopted by reference elsewhere in the same document or in any other pleading or motion. This allows for efficiency and avoids redundancy. Documents or items that are central to a claim or defense may be attached to the pleading as exhibits, ensuring that the factual basis for claims and defenses is clear.

5. Format Requirements

  • The rule also specifies format requirements such as:
  • Font: A readable and easily legible font is required.
  • Size: The text must be set in at least 12-point font for the body text.
  • Paper size and margins: Documents should be presented on 8.5 by 11-inch paper with 1-inch margins.
  • Page numbering: Pages should be numbered consecutively.
  • Spacing: Double spacing is required for the body of the document, with single or double spacing permissible for footnotes and quotations.
  • Signed under penalty of perjury: Statements made in the document must be signed under penalty of perjury, ensuring accountability and truthfulness in filings.

Purpose and Importance

  • Uniformity and Clarity: Rule 10 promotes a uniform and clear presentation of pleadings, which facilitates the court’s review and understanding of the case.
  • Efficiency: By standardizing the format and organization of documents, the rule helps streamline the litigation process, making it easier for parties and the court to navigate filings.
  • Accessibility: Clear, well-organized documents enhance the accessibility of legal filings for all parties involved, including the court, litigants, and the public.

In essence, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 10 ensures that pleadings and other documents filed in federal courts are presented in a consistent, clear, and professional manner, contributing to the efficient and effective administration of justice.


(As amended Apr. 30, 2007, eff. Dec. 1, 2007.)

Notes of Advisory Committee on Rules—1937

The first sentence is derived in part from the opening statement of [former] Equity Rule 25 (Bill of Complaint—Contents). The remainder of the rule is an expansion in conformity with usual state provisions. For numbered paragraphs and separate statements, see Conn.Gen.Stat. (1930) §5513; Ill.Rev.Stat. (1937) ch. 110, §157 (2); N.Y.R.C.P. (1937) Rule 90. For incorporation by reference, see N.Y.R.C.P. (1937) Rule 90. For written instruments as exhibits, see Ill.Rev.Stat. (1937) ch. 110, §160.

Committee Notes on Rules—2007 Amendment

The language of Rule 10 has been amended as part of the general restyling of the Civil Rules to make them more easily understood and to make style and terminology consistent throughout the rules. These changes are intended to be stylistic only.

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