The Rules to Redlining.

Workshare has been used for 470million file comparisons and counting. That’s a lot of redlines.

Redlining is a fundamental part of a contract negotiation or document review process. But when there are different parties and numerous people involved, it’s a good idea to understand and agree the rules of engagement. 

#1 – Establish a protocol

Establish a protocol that everyone in the process can agree to. It can get frantic and a little chaotic when going through a document review process. Who needs to see the file; who has seen the latest draft; and just which is the latest version anyway? Establish a protocol at the outset, which might include: 

  • How you agree to share documents e.g. through a secure file sharing platform, like Workshare's, which will show you who has reviewed a file and when, and always bring you to the latest version.
  • The timeframe for turnaround of a document. Flexibility is often needed and timescales can get tight, so state the deadlines in a comments box associated with the file, so everyone knows when feedback is expected, and communicate updates in these fields too.
  • Establishing upfront which platform will be used to complete the editing and comparison process. Workshare is the established market leader for document comparison. Every change is captured and visible with 100% accuracy, and nothing can be accidentally overwritten or lost.

#2 – Clearly communicate every change

In an interesting online discussion, which took place on adamsdrafting.com, a scenario was posed:

“…I send the other side a draft marked using Microsoft Word’s “track changes” feature. Using that feature, they accept some of my changes, reject others, and make changes of their own that are tracked using the “track changes” feature. What they send me doesn’t show those of my changes that they rejected, so their markup is misleading…”

In this scenario, the “changes rejected” are removed or deleted from the new version of the document, which means they can no longer be seen i.e. one party's suggested changes have been lost.

The comparison tool selected for the editing process should clearly communicate every change and deletion. Leading comparison tools give everyone in the review process the ability to see all the changes between different versions of a file. If the tool clearly communicates all the changes in a draft, those reviewing can instantly see every addition or correction. This saves time and guesswork over what’s new and ensures all parties can communicate openly and agree amendments. 

#3 – People deal with People

One of the crucial things to remember is that a document or contract is essentially the result of an agreement between people. The best way to get to the final draft, therefore, is to talk to the people involved in the process. Before the redlines are made and returned, face to face discussions or phone calls to ask questions and clarify points can help ensure that when the next version is issued there are fewer surprises. It might also help create an atmosphere of Entente Cordiale if the going ever gets tough.