Excuse me if I quote my own tweet:
Let's start using number of words, instead of number of pages, to say how long a contract is. Reading 1,500 words won't go any faster because it's on 3 pages instead of 4. In fact, it might take longer, if you use gimmicks like shrinking the font to fit it on one fewer pages.
— Ken Adams (@AdamsDrafting) July 28, 2021
Besides shrinking the font, you could use columns. (Two! Three!) Or you could reduce the margins. Or for greatest effect, you could deploy all three gimmicks, all to the detriment of the reader.
Another factor that’s irrelevant is saving trees by reducing the number of pages to be printed. We don’t print contracts like we used to, presumably because better hardware means it’s easier to read screens, and because esigning means we don’t need hard copies to sign.
So I encourage you to join me in counting words, not pages.
3 thoughts on “Count Words, Not Pages”
In the days of paper, I was a proponent of the two-column format not to save pages, but to make navigation a little easier, especially for our own forms. But columns are horrible on a computer — it means scrolling twice over every page. So I’m no longer a proponent, because all navigation on the screen ought to be vertical, not horizontal.
For the same reason, I prefer not to use much in the way of horizontal indentation to signal navigation. The non-MSCD-compliant numbering schemes I prefer make clear where each article, section, or subsection is within the hierarchy, and I do end up using horizontal spacing to help the reader mentally organize the parts and sub-parts of enumerated clauses with more than one level of enumeration. (I’d argue that what is in MSCD is less clear and could be improved, but I’ve made those arguments before.)
I concur regarding online reading of columns. And when it comes time to put together the fifth edition, I’ll retrieve your layout notions and give them another look.
This is why I can’t read some magazines online, or especially on my phone. Columns are no good for online reading.