Document Comparison

When you revise a draft contract, you want to be able to show the changes. You can do that using Word’s “Track Changes” feature, or you can use dedicated redlining software such as DeltaView or ChangePro. I haven’t yet looked at this area closely, so I’m happy to be able to steer you towards this new article by Tom Mighell and Dennis Kennedy in Law Practice Today.

About the author

Ken Adams is the leading authority on how to say clearly whatever you want to say in a contract. He’s author of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting, and he offers online and in-person training around the world. He’s also chief content officer of LegalSifter, Inc., a company that combines artificial intelligence and expertise to assist with review of contracts.

3 thoughts on “Document Comparison”

  1. I remain torn about redlining. The technology has become too easy to use, and thus it gets overused.

    In early stages of negotiation a redline will look like a battlefield, with so many colors, changes of fonts, hard-to-read sentences and such. Psychologically, it causes the reader to believe that the parties are not coming to any sort of agreement. That is particularly troubling to clients, who see what lawyers do as obtuse in the first place, and a stack of redlined pages that is more red and blue versus black and white seems to suggest that we are not helping the process of getting the deal done.

    I find redlining to be useful only once the document has gotten far enough along that the redlining will only be a fraction of the total document. It then serves its true purpose, that of allowing somebody to focus on changes and skip over that which is being left alone.

    Where somebody demands that we redline our changes in an early stage negotiation, and we have had to do serious surgery on that document, I view the demand to redline as almost a hostile statement: “How dare you mess with my masterpiece!” (I’ve even had people look at the numbers in the DeltaView report as something of a scorecard of dissension.) If we are essentially tearing it apart and starting over, to me that’s not the time to be reviewing redlines, since both parties should be reading the entire thing anyway.

  2. Personally, I use Word’s TrackChanges feature for exchanging drafts back and forth. If, for whatever reason, someone sends me one only in blackline where I can’t see the changes (which I now correct using document protection features), I prefer DeltaView to do the comparison.

    DV is quick, easy, produces a pretty good quality comparison… and for a single user license, relatively cheap. (Note: I’ve not used nor heard or ChangePro, so what I’m comparing against are older tools and M$-Word’s DocCompare feature.)

    But I do disagree with Mr. Fleming’s earlier comment about redlining. I keep the document from going back to the client until I’m finally down to the real issues… which means they never actually see the fully-bloody document, filled with initial positions and posturing.

  3. I probably didn’t express my point very well, but I actually agree with Jeff’s point — I do not give the fully-bloody redline to clients where I can help it. I’m just confused by others who think that’s a good idea.

    My main problem with the article is that it didn’t examine the ‘why use it’ (or more importantly, ‘when not to use it’) aspect of redlining.


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