Highlights are ways to give visual prominence to key passages, clauses, or terms in the contract. Text can be given visual prominence through typography, for example by using a different typeface, typesize, color, or boldface, or by using visual elements close to the text, such as boxes, frames, page dividers, or icons. But in no circumstance use all caps for full sentences: it is the typographic equivalent of SHOUTING, and, perceptually, it is very hard to read.
Contracts often look and feel like a wall of text. All information is given the same visual treatment, making it slower and more difficult to search, find and read key information.
Highlights can be used to flag key categories of information, making them more easily findable while skimming through the document. For example, you may want to highlight prices and other amounts of money (like liquidated damages or penalties), deadlines, KPIs, formulas, or counter-intuitive exceptions.
Highlighting techniques can also be used to give relevance and visibility to whole clauses, for example when there is a legal obligation to do so (e.g. limitation and exclusion of liability clauses).
Highlights make key information jump more readily to the eye, helping readers to read strategically. Perceptually, they ensure that some key details, terms, words are not overlooked and are immediately flagged as something to pay attention to. Rhetorically, they signal that the information is of particular importance.
© 2019 Stefania Passera, Helena Haapio, and IACCM
The clause is made conspicuous by using a combination of visual cues: a warning icon, a warning label, and a colored background.
© 2018 Buzzsumo Ltd. Used with permission.
Designer: Stefania Passera
Have you used highlights in your contracts? You can contribute to the Library by sharing an example.
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