I promised to tell you the techniques used to improve that awful passage from the GDPR. My six principles of a user-friendly drafting style came into their own:
- Prefer the active voice: I’ve kept just one passive because I felt it needed to be there to convey the legal meaning.
- Keep sentences under 40 words with an average sentence length of under 20 words: When you use clauses and sub-clauses, you can count each sub-clause as a separate sentence, making the new average sentence length under 10 words.
- Choose simple words if possible: I’ve got rid of “pseudonymisation” for example. I am, however, stuck with words that mean something under data protection law, for example “process” and “state of the art”.
- Don’t use three words if one would do: “In order to” becomes “to” and I’ve replaced “take account of” with “consider”. “At the time of” becomes “When”.
- Avoid jargon (including legal jargon): I’ve changed “shall” into “must”.
- Don’t turn perfectly good verbs into nouns: “The determination of” has changed to “deciding”.