How To Write a Terms Document

Creating a terms document can be very confusing for somebody without any legal expertise. However writing your own terms document can be simple and easy taking the following steps:

Make It Simple

Often times many people will think in order to have effective terms they need all these clauses for every imaginable scenario. This however is not the case – in fact it often can make things worse.

Adding overly complex wording or “legalese” will not only confuse yourself – it will also confuse your potential users. This is a recipe for disaster.

Writing complicated terms agreements sets up a higher risk for loopholes and contradictory statements. This effectively makes your terms useless, or worse yet, creates liability on your end. Avoid this by making it simple.

Outline Your Goals

A terms agreement is designed to serve a purpose, therefor you should have some goals you want this agreement to accomplish.

A few goals we believe all agreements should contain are:

  1. Manage liability
  2. Handling policy modifications
  3. Establish a license or copyright
  4. Declare your governing body
  5. Outline privacy considerations – if you do not have a privacy policy

These four goals are a great start and generally will be applicable in most scenarios.

Reference Others & Draft The Document

Once your goals are outlined go reference some other high profile websites to see how they accomplish those goals.

Just remember not all websites and services are not same as yours – so be sure to include what you need and exclude the rest.

Review and Write

Review your terms, ensure grammar and spelling is correct. Check your terms for consistency and quality. Make sure there are no contradictory statements.

This is an iterative process so it may take several revisions to get it right!

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