英文契約書で大文字使いまくるのやめない?All-caps writing is No-Go?

英文契約書では、しばしば大文字だらけの条項が見受けられます。

歴史的背景

昔はタイプライターで文章を打っていて、文字を目立たせるときにはアンダーラインを引くか、大文字にするかしか方法がありませんでした。

現在はパソコンを使い、太文字や斜体、フォントを変えることもできるので、とても読みにくい大文字の文章を書く必要はないのです。

下の例をご覧ください。読みづらさの違いがはっきり分かります。

読みづらい大文字の文章

UPON FINAL PAYMENT, WHEN ENTIRE PURCHASE PRICE HAS BEEN PAID IN FULL, BUYER AGREES TO PROVIDE SELLER WITH THE TITLE(S) AND/OR DEED(S) TO THE LAND. SELLER FURTHER AGREES TO RELINQUISH ANY AND ALL CLAIMS TO THE LAND. BUYER AGREES TO REMOVE SELLER FROM ANY LIABILITY WITH REGARD TO ISSUES THAT ARISE AFTER THE DATE OF THE TITLE TRANSFER.

通常のフォント

Upon final payment, when entire purchase price has been paid in full, Buyer agrees to provide Seller with the title(s) and/or deed(s) to the Land. Seller further agrees to relinquish any and all claims to the Land. Buyer agrees to remove Seller from any liability with regard to issues that arise after the date of the title transfer.

つまり、目立たせようとして大文字にしても、逆に読みにくくするだけでほかにメリットはないと考えたほうが良いと思います。太文字や斜体を使うほうが読み手にとって親切なのです。

まとめ

英文契約書だけではなく、ビジネスレターやメールでも、読み手が読みやすい書体を使うことは基本だと思います。アメリカの伝統的な作法として未だに読みにくい大文字だらけの契約書が見受けられますが、今後は減っていくことを期待しましょう。

All-caps writing is No-Go?

Traditional contract drafters tend to write certain sections in all-capital letters. Yes, even now and that happens all the time.

Historically, at the time everyone was using typewriters, there weren’t much options other than underlining or setting in all-capital letters when it was necessary to mark certain portions to stand out. It’s often a good idea to mark some important sections in a contract.

Obviously we all now use computers, which make it possible to use different types of letters in bold, italic, or even in a different font style.

Please see an example below to see how distinct it is:

“Don’t”
UPON FINAL PAYMENT, WHEN ENTIRE PURCHASE PRICE HAS BEEN PAID IN FULL, BUYER AGREES TO PROVIDE SELLER WITH THE TITLE(S) AND/OR DEED(S) TO THE LAND. SELLER FURTHER AGREES TO RELINQUISH ANY AND ALL CLAIMS TO THE LAND. BUYER AGREES TO REMOVE SELLER FROM ANY LIABILITY WITH REGARD TO ISSUES THAT ARISE AFTER THE DATE OF THE TITLE TRANSFER.

“Do”
Upon final payment, when entire purchase price has been paid in full, Buyer agrees to provide Seller with the title(s) and/or deed(s) to the Land. Seller further agrees to relinquish any and all claims to the Land. Buyer agrees to remove Seller from any liability with regard to issues that arise after the date of the title transfer.

If you write the texts in all-caps, it only makes them hard to read. Instead, we should use boldface or italics, or even combination of those.

This is just the first steps towards the plain English that’s reader-friendly.