Red highlights most of the text as very hard to readI’m taking part in a fundraising 5K event this summer called Push for Your Tush. As usual with such events, I had to sign a release – actually a “RELEASE, WAIVER and INDEMNITY AGREEMENT,” in all caps every time it is mentioned – for the organizer, Colorectal Cancer Canada.

I ran this AGREEMENT through the Hemingway app, which measures how easy something is to read and understand. The result is a great visual display of all the “very hard to read” sentences in a striking pinky-red, as you can see here.

Lawyers phrase things a specific way in these AGREEMENTS to cover every possible situation. Still, if you want someone to know what they’re signing, make it simple, easy to read and understandable. Then put the full and binding legal detail in the fine print at the bottom of the page, or link to it somewhere else. That way, the lawyers can include all the “prior to, during or subsequent to” and “HOWSOEVER CAUSED” and “whether in law or equity” phrases they like.

In the May issue of Wordnerdery, I rewrite the AGREEMENT, taking it from a scholarly-journal level to a more readable Grade 7 level. Check it out and let me know how you think I did. And please share if you find a “before” that needs an “after.” I’m always looking for good (bad) examples.

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