Resources on Drafting Consumer Contracts?

A reader asked me whether I could recommend any MSCD-ish resources on drafting consumer contracts.

The short answer is that I’ve never looked for any such resources, although I recall that the 1981 book Writing Contracts in Plain English was a pioneering work in this field. Readers, can you recommend anything?

I’ll now attempt slightly longer answer.

I think that much of MSCD would apply to drafting consumer contracts. Here’s what would be different:

  • Consumer contracts are more likely to use the second person (you) for one of the parties. I discuss that at MSCD 3.7.
  • Use of the second person, plus the need for simplified language, mean that it would be best to do without shall in consumer contracts.
  • Beyond that, much of the vocabulary that’s standard in business contracts (for example, the word material) is too complex for consumer contracts.
  • Because consumers aren’t inclined to read consumer contracts, it makes sense to make them more alluring by adding what in this 2011 post I call “document-design bling.”
  • I assume that depending on the industry, there are laws governing what you say in consumer contracts and how you say it.

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.