The fine print in a user agreement or terms of service is often the difference between an engaged user base and a lawsuit. Hopefully, you’ll never need this information. But if you do find yourself facing a legal matter stemming from your website or app, it’s good to have some tips for drafting a good user agreement template.
|1. Clearly define user responsibilities.|
|3. Specify intellectual property rights and usage.|
|4. Outline prohibited activities and content.|
|5. Clarify refund and cancellation policies.|
|6. Address dispute resolution procedures.|
|7. Provide contact information for inquiries.|
|8. Keep language clear and understandable.|
|9. Disclose any data collection and usage practices.|
|10. Incorporate terms for account suspension or termination.|
|11. Stay compliant with applicable laws and regulations.|
|12. Allow for updates and modifications to the terms.|
|13. Ensure users actively agree to the terms.|
1. Make Your Terms Of Service Easy To Accept
Here is the most important thing to remember when writing your Terms of Service: make sure they are easy to read, understand and accept. This may sound obvious but it’s not always the case with some companies’ TOS. For example, take a look at this screenshot from BitTorrent’s (now defunct) terms of service page:
It looks like someone just copy-pasted the document into Microsoft Word and forgot about all formatting options
The font size is way too small for most people over 40 years old
Building a robust web terms of service agreement is crucial for any online business. Following our guide on creating terms of service will ensure you cover all necessary aspects and protect your interests.
2. Use Bold To Emphasize Key Points
Bold text is an easy way to make sure your most important points stand out. For example, if you want a visitor to read something and take it seriously, you can add bold text around the passage:
This is important.*
It’s just as easy to use bold for warning signs or disclaimers as well:
You should not do this.*
The same goes for things that are essential but not quite so important. In general, using bold makes it easier to spot the most relevant parts of your document or webpage because they’re easier to read than normal text.
3. Keep Your Terms Of Service Short And Simple
Remember, you’re writing rules for people to follow. If they can’t understand what you’re saying, they won’t follow your rules.
Use short paragraphs and sentences. Try not to use words that are more than three syllables long.
Use bullet points instead of long paragraphs if possible, especially when describing how something works or how it is implemented on your website or app.
Include a table of contents (and an index!) so users can quickly navigate to the section(s) that are most relevant for them at any given time.
This also helps avoid confusion when multiple documents refer back-and-forth between each other: if there’s no clear definition provided beforehand then readers would be forced one way or another which could lead them down unexpected paths!
When writing legal documents like terms of service, it’s important to pay attention to detail. Our article on 10 tips for writing, editing, and revising can help you refine your legal writing skills and produce well-crafted agreements.
4. Check Your Grammar And Spelling
Check your grammar and spelling. If your terms of service are full of mistakes, it can be confusing or distracting for users and they’ll probably just click away.
Don’t use contractions: Using contractions in legal documents generally frowns upon it makes things sound too casual, which might imply that you’re not being serious enough about the purpose of your document.
Be consistent with punctuation: Since this is a legal document, use periods at the end of sentences (unless they’re part of an abbreviation), commas where needed, and so on to avoid any confusion as to what you mean to say.
Use a spellchecker: While you may think you’re pretty good at spelling (or maybe not!), it’s always better safe than sorry when it comes to important documents like these! Use tools like Grammarly or Word’s built-in checker whenever possible.
Even if there are still some errors after checking it yourself firsthand, having another set of eyes look over your work will help catch any typos you missed along the way!
5. Choose Pop-Ups Over A Long Form
A pop-up is a great way to get your users to agree to your terms of service, but it can also be seen as annoying and intrusive by some users.
If you’re going to use this approach, you’ll need to make sure that people want what they’re asking for in their pop-ups (i.e., cookies are on by default). Your site must have strong branding so that when someone sees a new feature or product from you, they recognize it as yours and trust the content within it.
Avoiding common pitfalls is key in producing effective legal content. Learn from our insights on top 15 most common legal writing mistakes to enhance the quality of your terms of service agreements.
6. Avoid Using “I” And “We” When Referring To Yourself Or Your Company
One of the easier ways you can avoid liability is by avoiding first-person pronouns. When you refer to yourself or your company, avoid using first-person pronouns. This means that instead of saying, “We do not tolerate harassment” say “Harassment is not tolerated here.” Instead of saying, “I am a lawyer” say “Lawyers help people resolve legal issues.”
Some people make the mistake of thinking they should use first person plural pronouns such as we because it sounds more professional but this is a common way language gets misused in terms of liability for negligence or other reasons (e.g., if someone was injured because a company said something like “we have never had an accident before).
Other times companies will use first person plural possessive pronouns like our (e.g., our mission statement).
When referring to themselves this too can lead down a slippery slope towards legal trouble later on if something goes wrong and it turns out that there were multiple people involved who could potentially be held legally responsible for negligence since they all contributed some small part towards creating whatever caused harm in question.
Even though one might argue that each contribution may have been minor overall (or even completely benign), those contributions could still add up over time until eventually reaching a critical mass where one day someone has done enough damage.
So far from home base that suddenly becomes impossible for anyone else, there left alone after hours with no supervision whatsoever just kind enough not to kill them outright!
7. Be Open About Changes To The Terms Of Service Over Time
List the date of the last update. This should be located at the top of every page, just before your list of terms.
List the date of the next update. If you are constantly updating and modifying your terms, this can help users see if they need to check back in frequently to keep up with what’s changing in their contract with you and how often it happens.
List the date of the first update. You may have had a long road ahead since starting, but knowing when things started helps set expectations for how long it takes to resolve issues or disputes (if you even have any).
List the date of the last major update as well as minor ones not all changes are created equal!
Crafting terms of service requires the finesse of expert legal writing. Discover how to achieve the look and sound of expert legal writing to make your agreements authoritative and professional.
8. Insert A Table Of Contents For Larger Documents
When it comes to making your document easy to read, a table of contents is the best trick in the book. It allows you to break up your document into sections, which means readers can easily find what they need and want.
A table of contents also allows them to see what type of information will be presented in each section (for example: “Section 1: Overview” vs “Section 2: Technical Details”).
Finally, if you have a particularly lengthy document or one that could get longer as time goes on you can use this tool as an organizational tool for yourself so that you don’t forget about any important points along the way!
9. Use Examples To Explain The Terms Of Service In Plain Language
Use Examples to Explain the Terms Of Service In Plain Language
You’ve probably heard that using examples is a great way to explain your terms of service in plain language. But what does that mean? Well, it means offering real-world scenarios that people can relate to.
You should also be clear about which legal terms you use and why they’re important (i.e., “we will not be liable for any damages”). If there are words or phrases you think might be unclear or confusing, consider explaining them within parentheses after the term itself in your terms of service text. For example:
10. Offer Examples To Explain Common Legal Terms
If you have a confusing term, be sure to include an example of how it might be used. For example, you will often see the phrase:
“User agrees not to use this service for spamming or other unethical purposes.”
This would mean that if someone uses the service to send out spam emails, they have violated their agreement with you (and in some cases could face legal consequences). You can then follow up with another sentence that illustrates what you mean by “spam,” such as:
“Commercial email is fine as long as it doesn’t include any false or misleading information.”
11. Use A Friendly Tone And Personable Language To Get People’s Attention
Your terms of service should be easy to follow and understand, not a complex legal document that people have to read twice to make sense of it. Use a conversational tone, friendly language, and clear instructions that are easy to comprehend. Remember that you’re trying to create an experience for the user t scare them away with legalese!
12. Include A Glossary To Define Uncommon Words Or Legal Terms
A glossary is a list of terms and their definitions. It can be used to define uncommon words or legal terms, and can also be used to define acronyms.
A well-constructed glossary will help users understand the terms in your terms of service document, which could lead them to make better-informed decisions about using your product or service.
If you don’t have time to create your glossary from scratch, there are plenty of tools available online that allow you to find pre-made ones for free!
Ensuring the validity of your contracts is paramount. Learn valuable insights from our guide on how to know if a contract is valid and if it isn’t to guarantee the legality and enforceability of your terms of service agreements.
13. List Contact Information Where Users Can Reach For Help Or Support In Case They Have Any Questions
Include contact information where users can reach out for help or support in case they have any questions.
A good place to include your contact info is at the bottom of your TOS, or on a separate page that’s linked off of it.
You may want to offer multiple ways for people to get in touch with you, like phone number, email address, social media pages, etc.
If you’re using a third-party service as part of your website (like MailChimp), make sure that they have a way people can find their contact info if they need help too!
14. Set Up A User Agreement Template So You Don’t Have To Start From Scratch Each Time
You Add A New App Or Feature To Your Platform Or Website
If you’re looking to create your user agreement template, it’s best to start with something that already exists. There are many places online where you can find free user agreement templates and customize them to fit your needs.
Make sure that the terms of service you choose are legally binding and enforceable, but also make sure they don’t overwhelm users with too many restrictions or fine print.
Be clear about what type of third-party data storage is being used on your platform or website (i.e., if you have an app that stores photos in the cloud).
This information should be included in your user agreement so that consumers know how their data will be stored and what personal information will be shared with advertisers and other third parties by using the product/service (if any).
We’ve discussed a lot of different things you can do to make your terms of service more user-friendly. You should make sure they are short, easy to read and understand, and contain clear language that is relevant to your business type and audience. It’s also important that the language be consistent throughout all sections.
Finally, make sure you include the most important information first so it doesn’t confuse people who just want an overview without having to read through everything else!
The key takeaway here is that if we want people to be willing to read our legal documents, then we need to make them as easy as possible for them to digest and understand what they mean. There are many ways in which this can be accomplished from simple formatting changes like using headings or bullet points instead of paragraphs.
Use shorter sentences; use plain English instead of jargon; write so there are no confusing sections (like those highlighted above).
You should also remember not only what it takes but also what makes sense when creating these policies because any issues with them could cause problems later on down the road which none of us would like since our goal is always 100% customer satisfaction!
9 Things to Include in a Terms of Service: Discover essential elements that should be incorporated into your terms of service to ensure legal clarity and user understanding.
Terms and Conditions Template: Need a starting point? Check out this template for terms and conditions that you can customize to suit your business’s needs.
Now, here’s the FAQs section in markdown format:
What should be included in a terms of service?
A terms of service should include details about user responsibilities, account usage, intellectual property rights, dispute resolution, and more.
Can I use a template for my terms and conditions?
Yes, using a terms and conditions template can provide a solid foundation, but make sure to customize it to accurately reflect your business’s unique policies and practices.
How often should I update my terms of service?
It’s recommended to review and update your terms of service regularly, especially when there are changes in laws, regulations, or your business practices.
Costantine Edward is a digital marketing expert, freelance writer, and entrepreneur who helps people attain financial freedom. I’ve been working in marketing since I was 18 years old and have managed to build a successful career doing what I love.