Writing legal content
This section gives a general overview of the legal content we publish and how those documents are written.
For information about laws that apply to non-legal content, see the copyright and trademarks section.
The way we write, review, and publish legal content is different from how we do many other kinds of writing at Skylight. But that doesn’t mean legal content has to be difficult to read. We try to present our legal information in the most pleasant way possible. Our goals for Skylight’s legal content are:
- Accuracy. Our first and foremost concern is that we present the correct information in a truthful way.
- Clarity. We try to avoid legal jargon and overly formal wording. Our users need to understand the agreement they’re making with us.
- Succinctness. We want our users to read and understand our legal documents, while also respecting their time.
When writing legal content, generally follow the style points outlined in the voice and tone and style elements sections. Here are some more general considerations, too.
Start with the facts
We have some standard language that we use for common issues or requests, but since legal content is so fact-specific, we start there before getting into structure and format. That’s why you won’t see many templates for our legal content.
Use plain language
Legal content is serious business, so the tone is slightly more formal than most of our content. That said, we want our audience to be able to understand our legal content. So whenever possible, we use plain language rather than legal jargon.
If you sign up on behalf of a company or other entity, you represent and warrant that you have the authority to accept these Terms on their behalf.
There are some legal terms we have to include because either there’s not a sufficient plain language alternative, or case law or statute dictates that term has to be used for the contract to hold up in court. For example, sometimes we need to say “represent and warrant” instead of “confirm” or “agree.” If we use those terms, we can provide an example or quick definition to help people understand what they’re reading. We can’t avoid all legal terminology, but we can pare it down to what’s necessary.
Some companies have complicated terms and write plain-language summaries so people can understand the agreement. We don’t summarize our legal content, but instead try to write the terms themselves in plain language. We use a sidebar to provide examples or links to further reading for people who want more context.
Using plain language for the terms you define up front can make legal documents easier to read. You’ve probably read contracts that say something like “The Corporation” or “The Client” throughout, instead of “we” (meaning the company) and “you” (meaning the client who is agreeing to the terms). There’s a quick fix for that. At the beginning of the document, define your terms up front.
Skylight is owned and operated by Skylight Inc. (“Skylight,” “we,” or “us”). As a user of the Service or a representative of an entity that’s a user of the Service, you’re a “Client” according to this agreement (or “you”).
After that, you’re free to use “we,” “us,” “you,” and “your” throughout the rest of the agreement. That simple change makes the document much friendlier to read.
We use contractions in many of our legal documents, which makes them sound more human and flow better with the rest of our content. Contracting words doesn’t affect the validity of an agreement.