5.4 House style rules

Virtually all companies have established a house style for the use of their logo, the look and feel of e-mails, letters and other communication materials.

When it comes to the presentation of contracts, legal departments often fail to have established any such rules. It often appears that there are no strict rules on presentation (if there is a policy at all). Many in-house lawyers do not bother about the presentation of their contracts because they believe that only the contents are relevant. If they do bother, they often create something for own use. In such situations, you will probably also discover that the style of one model contract does not necessarily match with other model contracts. Obviously, such lawyer’s house style may well contradict the ideas inherent in the corporate house style, and result in inconsistency amongst the agreements and contracting policies (if there is any house style at all).

Effective house style rules are established in consultation with the company’s PR & communication firm and enforced strictly. Because some people just fail to see the difference between contract clauses in Times Roman compared to Garamond, or between Arial 10 point versus 11 point fonts, it is recommended that the house style rules are provided both as a visual example (e.g. high­lighting font sizes, margins, line spacing, indentation and numbering styles) and in the form of a term sheet.

The enforcement of a house style is not an issue when all contracts are created through a document assembly software application (see chapter 9). In such case, the user would not have the chance to modify the presentation (at least not unconsciously).

Sample house style. An example of a set of contract house style rules is included in Annex 4 of this book.