e07 Mindset -Checklist Legal Podcast with Verity White 2018

SLAPP your contract into productive shape

Mindset: Fine tune document performance

On this episode, we look at the SLAPP test.

This test gives some key tactics we can use to improve the productivity of the contract document.

We’ll cover:
• Academic studies showing the effectiveness of visual contract elements
• The picture superiority effect
• Why easy to read is easy to like
• Contract formatting tips


Step 1 (Structure) – Is your contract structured like a Reverse Sandwich so it’s useful & usable?
Step 2 (Likeable) – Does your contract look good?
Step 3 (Automated) – Is your contract ready for low-code automation?
Step 4 (Plain language ) – How easy is your contract to read & understand?
Step 5 (Pictures) – Do you use pictures, flowcharts, graphics, icons, tables & other visuals to break up text?

Open the Nozbe.how checklist version of the SLAPP test


‘But I am simple in my communications!’ I hear you say.

Well, there is an easy way to check. Go to your Sent email folder.
Find the last email you sent which had more than 3 sentences.

Head to webpagefx.com & paste the text in. See what score you get…

If you get a grade over 9, try re-writing & simplifying.


Links to sources from this episode of the Checklist Legal Podcast and background information:


  • Test the Automated Visual Notice Clause Builder
  • Learn more about visual contracts
  • H Haapio & S Passaria, ‘Improving Contract Clarity’ (31 July 2014) (an excellent webinar presentation with accompanying notes) & H Haapio & S Passaria, ‘Visual Law: What Lawyers Need To Learn From Information Designers’ (15 May 2013) www.blog.law.cornell.edu/voxpop/2013/05/15/visual-law-what-lawyers-need-to-learn-from-information-designers/accessed 10 June 2017.
  • Stefania Passera, ‘Contract visualization – boost your brand & bridge the language barrier’ (10 December 2014). www.iaccm.com/resources/?id=8255&cb=1478262447, accessed 10 June 2017.
  • DL Nelson, US Reed, & JR Walling, ‘Pictorial superiority effect’ (1976) Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Learning & Memory, 2, 523-528.
  • For a visual overview of the Picture Superiority Effect, see DigitalSplashMedia’s fun animation www.youtube.com/watch?v=cLLDUyy8utY, accessed 13 May 2017.


  • Get the template Key Details Table and other free resources via https://www.checklistlegal.com/resources
  • The eBook by Verity White, Secrets of Productive Contracts
  • Quick wins for contract productivity: a Nozbe.how electronic checklist
  • Document structure concepts: International Business Communication Standards Association (IBCS-A)
  • ER Tufte, ‘Envisioning Information’ (1990) www.edwardtufte.com/tufte/books_ei, accessed 10 June 2017.
  • Hannah Morgan-Stone, ‘Plain to all: Using logic to distill complex thinking into clear documents’ (November 2016) Presentation at Clarity2016, Wellington NZ.


  • Caitlin Whiteman, ‘Why easy-to-read is easy to like – what science tells us about the remarkable benefits of simplicity’, (21 March 2016) https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-easy-to-read-easy-like-what-science-tells-us-caitlin-whiteman
  • H Song & N Schwarz, ‘If it’s hard to read, it’s hard to do: Processing fluency affects effort prediction and motivation’ (2008) Psychological Science 19(10): 986–988. www.dornsife.usc.edu/assets/sites/780/docs/08_ps_song___schwarz_effort.pdf, accessed 10 June 2017.
  • See generally Geoffrey Marnell (excellent not only for the title pun but also the content) ‘Measuring Readability, Part 1: The spirit is will but the Flesch is weak’, www.abelard.com.au/readability%20statistics.pdf, & ’Advantages & disadvantages of readability formulas’


  • Shelley Davies is an avid promoter of plain language & writing like a human.
  • NA Merola, ‘We like people who are easy to read: The influence of processing fluency in impression formation’, (2014) PhD thesis, University of Texas. http://www.repositories.lib.utexas.edu/handle/2152/21572, accessed 11 June 2017.
  • S Michie & K Lester, ‘Words matter: increasing the implementation of clinical guidelines‘, (2005) Quality & Safety in Health Care 14:367–370. Retrieved via http://www.qualitysafety.bmj.com/content/14/5/367.long, accessed 11 June 2017.

Head to the Checklist Legal Resources page for access to the other templates and examples mentioned in the show.

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