Redlined Documents 101 is the page that gets you on your way in redlining contracts. You’ll find answers to redlining questions like:
I’ll be building this page alongside my other activities, so please allow me some slack to give you my practice-proven answers and tips.
Look up the word in a dictionary, and you’ll find that ‘redlining’ is being used in several contexts. In aviation, it means establishing a recommended safe speed for an airplane. In automotive terms, it means the maximum engine speed. In the financial industry, redlining refers to marking neighborhoods of lower incomes as ‘red zones’ where households and businesses can’t get mortgages, insurances, and business loans—or, the opposite, against huge costs.
But we’re not talking about these contexts. Here, we refer to redlining in a context of documents. So, what does redlining a document mean? In my popular booklet ‘Redlining Contracts and Other Documents,’ you’ll learn that redlining is referred to as marking texts in documents to show that it has been added, changed, deleted, approved, or rejected. Somehow, the marking of texts is associated with the color red, hence, ‘redlining’. Do you remember how your teacher used to mark your papers, using a big fat red marker? Did you know that most of the redlining software still uses the color red as a base setting to mark texts? Don’t worry, though, if you still get itchy just looking at red remarks… in today’s software you can pick any color you like ;-)
Savvy contract managers know there’s more to redlining than just marking texts.
First, we’re talking about the processes, the skills, and the techniques that come into play to keep a firm grip on redlining documents. You can’t afford to skimp on these. If you do, you’ll soon lose control. Can you imagine what consequences this might have for your company’s interests?
Secondly, when you hear about redlining documents, it is usually related to the main contract document, taking place in the period of contract negotiations. That’s no wonder because it is then that redlining activities are at a high with parties sending the agreement documents back and forth, changing the texts bit by bit. But here’s the thing. Many times there are more documents related to the main agreement document. Many times they get written after the main contract has been signed, It could be a memo, a report, or an e-mail. These each can change, add to, or do away with the commitments made in the main document. So, redlining is not something you do once… it’s a constant process that needs your attention as long as the contract is alive.
Now here’s a question I cannot answer on this single web page. So that is why I’ll be posting a series separately on this website, like:
In the meantime, did you know that I have bundled my tips and tricks into a nifty booklet? You can order Redlining Contracts and other Documents as a paperback booklet or ebook. It’s not a big book (that's why it’ll set you back for only a couple of bucks—it won’t get me on a cruise in the Caribbean) but, it does contain a bunch of practice-proven do’s and don’ts I wish I had known when I started managing contracts 27 years ago. Just think of it this way: if there’d be one tip only for you to use, you’ve made your couple of bucks back… and most likely saved your company a boatload of money, and gained yourself a lot of appreciation.
By far, Microsoft Word gives you the best features. You can track changes, accept, or reject proposed changes, compare document versions, and combine versions of multiple authors into a new document version.
Redlining an Excel document has always been a drag, requiring you to use some pretty daunting workarounds. Good news: The people from Microsoft have ramped-up the redlining possibilities in the new Excel version with a ‘spreadsheet compare’ feature!
There’s also good news on redlining PDF files. Adobe Acrobat XI and DC now offer you the possibility to compare and easily review the differences between two PDF files.
The redlining possibilities of Apple’s Pages are limited, and as far as I know, Numbers doesn’t offer track nor comparison features.
In my booklet, I tell you step-by-step how to go about it in Word and Excel, and I give you some vital pointers to stuff you need to watch out for when you think about using “free” online tools.
As said, I’m working on it, so, please, come back.
Kind Regards, Jaap.