Docracy Style Guide

This guide explains how best to use formatting, fields and annotations to create an attractive and functional document template on Docracy.

General Guidelines

  • Do not include the title of the document in the actual document text, or else it will appear duplicated when exported to PDF.
  • Any preamble that is not related to the actual legal content of the document (such as information about its provenance, etc.) should not be in the document text, but instead placed in the document summary.
  • Any context-specific explanatory text (such as how to fill out a field, or an indication that a section is optional) should be placed in annotation (accessible via the blue chat bubble above).
  • The title of the document should be as descriptive as possible without being overly long. Similarly, the document summary should be limited to just a few sentences, if possible. Any overflow from the document summary could appear in an annotation at the start of the document, instead.
  • Make sure that the right signing mode is set for the document: two-party signing (also use this for three or more parties), one-party signing (for releases), or no signing (for non-signing docs).

Formatting

  • Avoid the use of all-capital letters.
  • Use the heading formats (Heading 1 through Heading 6 in the drop-down above) to impose structure on the documents, as opposed to using text indentation.
  • Use italics for definitions, use bold for emphasis. Try to avoid the use of underline, as it is unattractive and can resemble a link.
  • Use full-justification text-alignment for body text (paragraphs and even bullet points), use left-alignment (the default) for everything else. It's often easiest to make the justification changes at the very end of the editing process.

Fields

  • Convert all instance-specific names and values into fields, so that the document is sufficiently general.
  • Capitalize the words in field names, but don't use all-capital letters.
  • Make the field names sufficiently clear. It is better that the field name be a bit long if it avoids confusion.
  • Make sure that when the same field is repeated throughout the document (this is especially common for names) that it have the exact same name. This way the user will only have to type in the value once.
  • Conversely, make sure that fields that will take on different values never use the same name, as this will force them to have the same value.
  • Be sure to specify the appropriate auto-field for dates, names, company names, etc. so that they are automatically filled-in for signing users.
  • If you are turning a value in to a field, but that value represents a reasonable opinion that users could keep in their customized contract (for example, 50% payment due up front), then specify that value as a default. If it is a value specific to the deal on which the template was based, then do not specify a default value (for example, the total amount of shares outstanding in a seed funding doc).
  • Try using the doc yourself when you are done, to make sure that it "works" properly as a signing doc.
  • And most important of all: have fun!

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