Why companies should ditch jargon and simplify legal documents

From tax forms to credit card agreements, documents are packed with jargon. One branding expert says it's time to ditch legalese and simplify business forms.
Written by Andrew Nusca, Contributor

Passport applications. Tax forms. Bills and other legislation. Credit card contracts. Terms of service.

Do all of these documents make you cringe? Of course they do, because they're obtuse forms crammed with legalese and other jargon that are difficult to parse, visually and mentally.

Branding and business communications expert Alan Siegel says the age of incomprehensibly long paperwork must come to an end.

If you're a veteran coming back from Iraq or Vietnam you face a blizzard of paperwork to get your benefits. If you're trying to get a small business loan, you face a blizzard of paperwork.

He says it's time to implement simple, sensible redesigns -- in plain English -- to help make legal paperwork intelligible to average folks.

Here's Siegel making his case in less than six minutes in a talk at TED2010:

Still interested? Check out Siegel's Simplified Credit Card Agreement, produced in 2009 by his branding firm, Siegel+Gale.

The form was designed in response to President Obama's call to credit card companies for agreements consumers "don't need a law degree or a magnifying glass to understand."

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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