Answered By: Kate Anderson, Business Librarian Last Updated: Jul 03, 2019 Views: 26
A contract is defined as
...an agreement between two parties that creates an obligation to do or refrain from doing a particular thing. The purpose of a contract is to establish the terms of the agreement by which the parties have fixed their rights and duties ("Contracts," 2013).
In the business environment contracts are often used "...to buy goods or services at a particular price, in a particular amount, or of a particular quality, they expect the seller to deliver goods and services that conform to the contract ("Contracts," 2013).
Contracts are formed by one party initiating or proposing the offer. The second party must then accept or reject the offer. Generally, the offer is considered as rejected if the second party deviates from or disagrees with any aspect of the contract. Additionally, consideration must exist between the two parties.
Consideration is a bargained-for exchange, that is, the existence of mutuality of obligation. Both parties must derive some benefit (or, alternatively, both parties must experience some detriment or forbearance) for a contract to exist. Without consideration, an offer and acceptance represent merely a naked, unenforceable promise (Bice, 2014).
To learn more about consideration, review this article on Valuable Consideration.
According to Boundy (2012), typically, a written contract will include:
1. Date of agreement
2. Names of parties to the agreement
3. Preliminary clauses
4. Defined terms
5. Main contract clauses
6. Schedules/appendices and signature provisions (para. 5).
For more information about contracts, visit:
- Contracts from the Encyclopedia of Business and Finance
- Contracts from Gale Encyclopedia of Every Day Law
- Contract from Dictionary of Business
- Contract Law - How to Create a Legally Binding Contract
- Contract Drafting Tips
- Key Contracts
- Business Contracts Kit for Dummies
- Contract Risk from The Legal Risk Management Handbook
For sample contracts, review the following resources:
- SCORE website - search for "contracts"
- Sample Contract with Independent Contractor for Legal Guide for Starting & Running a Small Business
- Sample Independent Contractor Agreement from The Manager's Legal Handbook
- Form: Independent Contractor Agreement - General 2
There are many different types of contracts. Therefore, contracts vary quite a bit depending upon purpose/type of contract, and parties involved. Carefully review the instructions in your course and/or contact your instructor to determine the specific elements that should be included in your contract.
If your assignment asks you to write the contract in APA style, keep in mind that the APA does not provide any specific requirements or information for writing contracts. So, this request from your instructor likely means that you should follow standard APA formatting requirements like 1-inch margins, 12-point Times New Roman font, double-spacing, etc. In addition, it likely means you should have a cover page, in-text citations for sources used in the body of the contract, and a references page. For more APA requirements access the APA Guide.
Bice, K. A. (2014). Contracts. In Encyclopedia of business and finance (3rd ed., Vol. 1, pp. 156-159). Retrieved from
Boundy, C. (2012). Written contracts. In Contracts for your business: A straighforward guide to contracts and legal agreements. Retrieved
Contracts. (2013). In D. Batten (Ed.), Gale encyclopedia of everyday law (3rd ed., Vol. 1, pp. 255-261). Retrieved from
Chat with the Rasmussen Library