Count Words, Not Pages

Excuse me if I quote my own tweet:

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.

About the author

Ken Adams is the leading authority on how to say clearly whatever you want to say in a contract. He’s author of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting, and he offers online and in-person training around the world. He’s also chief content officer of LegalSifter, Inc., a company that combines artificial intelligence and expertise to assist with review of contracts.

3 thoughts on “Count Words, Not Pages”

  1. Ken:

    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.


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