When you picture a contract in your mind’s eye, you probably imagine a two things: paper and words. Specifically, a lot of paper, and a lot of words. However, with the digitization of the contract, hard copies of these documents are much more rare, and in the future, dense blocks of words may be sharing more space with images, charts, illustrations, infographics, and visualizations.
Approaching Visualization In Contracts
How does one incorporate visualization into contracts? The answer depends heavily on the specific contract you are working on as well as the audience for the contract. You may wish to ask yourself the following two questions:
- Who is going to read and use this contract? What is their education level? Are they familiar with legal terms? Do they speak a different language, or is English their second language?
- How is this contract going to be utilized? Why is the contract being created? When will you need to reference it? What do you hope to get out of the relationship between the contract holders?
Next, it is important to understand the different types of visualizations that may be needed for your contract. These vary from icons that can represent key elements of your contract to flowcharts to explain how supplies will move between two companies. Some of the most common types of contract visualizations include:
However, these are far from the only visuals that could help create an ideal contract for your needs. New visualizations are being utilized by the day, and are only limited by your ability to create them.
The Benefits Of A Visual Contract
At first, visual elements in contracts might seem gimmicky or even immature. But adding visualizations isn’t just a new trend–it comes with multiple concrete benefits that will make your contract more readable, more efficient, and more useful.
- They reach across language barriers. Perhaps the biggest benefit of using images and illustrations in contracts is that it makes them easier to break the language barrier, especially when there are more than two different languages present in the boardroom.
- They clarify complex issues. The saying is often true: a picture can be worth one thousand words. In some cases, a complex issue that is difficult to put into words can easily be illustrated on the page. For example, showing multiple actions and consequences can be confusing when traditionally set on the page, but very easy to follow when converted into a flow chart.
- They reach visual thinkers. People learn best in different ways. Some people learn best by reading, but others learn best through images or through listening. By inserting images into your contract, you are reaching more types of learners and ensuring that everyone has a better understanding of the contract.
- They bypass the legalese. It is sometimes necessary for contracts to contain a large number of legal terms and long, legal explanations. While these features must be preserved in order to keep clarity and protect your company, they can also crowd the document and obfuscate the most important pieces of information. An image or illustration can highlight main points.
- They make contracts into more useful tools. One of the goals of improving contract is turning them into dense paperweights that are thrown into a drawer until there is a legal contract into living, working documents that help companies understand and reach their goals together.
This Month On Agreement Blog: Crafting The Perfect Contract
All month long on Agreement Blog, we are studying the art of the contract. So far, we have look at a number of ways that contracts can become more useful, less costly, and easier for all to understand. Take a look back at our other posts in this series:
- Utilizing Hyperlinking for Ease and Clarity
- The Argument for Standardization
- Balancing Plain Language and Legalese
Next week, for our final installment, we will look at the best ways that you can ensure that your contract is a brief as possible without losing clarity or protection.
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