Friday, April 15, 2011

The significance of the small print!

The small (or fine) print has for long been considered the trap in all sorts of contracts to be wary of by those signing onto the dotted line.

My interest in small print with regards to construction is less to do with the ‘legal contract document between the parties’ as much as the drawings that are parts of contractual sets (issued for tender, construction, variations etc);

I see two manifestations of the small-print in those documents:

The first group comprises any text that is smaller than 2mm when printed.
There may not be anything sinister or manipulative behind giving instructions out via small print – I still treat them with contempt they deserve.
If this is an instructional document telling me what I am obliged to do under a contract, it should be in the main document and not buried in small print. You don’t write a GIVE WAY or STOP sign with lettering too small to read, unless you want to trip someone up with it.

The second group covers the ‘general sheets’, those densely written pages at the fronts of drawing sets, again containing small textual instructions, keys, legends etc.
My issue with these is that they tend to be far too hard to navigate to form essential instructions.

Keep them clear, keep them legible.
Small print should be left to the lawyers.

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