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What Makes a Contract Easy to Read?


A client had been using a form of independent contractor agreement for years and was concerned that the existing agreement did not fully meet the client’s legal needs. I said that I could adapt my form of agreement more cost-effectively than I could fix the client’s agreement. When I did so, I realized that the agreement I provided was much easier to read (aside from being legally tighter and more complete).

What makes the new agreement easier to read? First, it has about 20% fewer words, because I try to make each point once, avoiding the needlessly repetitive words and phrases that lawyers traditionally have delivered.

Second, it has only half as many pages, so the reader can see more at a single glance, thus better grasping scope and context. Although the shortening is accomplished by using a smaller font, lots of white space enhances readability.

Third, paragraphs are short, allowing the reader to understand concepts quickly and avoid the fatigue that comes with long paragraphs.

Finally, a bold heading on every section and subsection tells the reader what to expect in the following text.

In summary, when one prepares a contract, it shouldn’t just do the job from the legal perspective – it also should make reading as easy as possible.

Photo credit: Kriss Szkurlatowski via stock.xchng.

Dana H. Shultz, Attorney at Law? +1 510 547-0545? dana [at] danashultz [dot] com
This blog does not provide legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you need legal advice, please contact a lawyer directly.