How to Redline a Contract: Advance Contract Processes with Automation

October 6, 2022
October 6, 2022
Gary Sangha | Founder & CEO

Corporate legal departments looking to alleviate contracting bottlenecks and maximize efficiency would do well by starting with the redlining process. There’s no shortage of online resources that provide step-by-step instructions on how to redline a contract with tools like MS Word and Adobe Acrobat, yet doing so with considerable precision, accuracy, and consistency is a science.

Fortunately, it’s gotten faster and easier to handle contract redlining at scale. Artificial intelligence (AI) and automation technology have given the redlining process a much-needed 21st century upgrade. Today, arming your legal staff with an in-house tech solution that’s invariably precise and seamless is the sensible choice. 

Lawyer writing on contract by hand, showing the old way of how to redline a contract.

What Does It Mean When You Redline a Contract?

Contract redlining is a necessary step in the pre-execution phase of contract lifecycle management. It occurs after the agreement has been drafted, but before it’s signed. One or both parties take a red pen to the draft to search for errors, omissions, inconsistencies, and provisions they’d like to change. Once the markup is complete, it’s back to the drawing board or onto negotiations.  

How Do You Redline?

Traditionally, a lawyer would comb through a printed contract via a manual review—considering the content of the agreement while searching for any grammatical issues, vague passages, or positions that deviate from company standards. Issues are marked with a red pen, with notes added in the margins for the drafter to review and accommodate changes. In larger companies, this work may be handled by a junior-level associate who passes the amended contract onto senior-level counsel for a final review. 

Over the years, Adobe Acrobat and Microsoft Office tools have helped ease the burden, replacing traditional methods of redlining that relied primarily on paper. 

How Do I Redline a Contract in Word?

Wondering how to redline a contract in Word? Here’s how it’s usually handled by legal departments: 

  • Manually locate and open the correct version of the document.
  • Click on the REVIEW tab from the top menu.
  • On the tab to the right, choose a markup style:
  •  - Simple: shows red lines next to edited text, but doesn’t specify what’s changed.
  •  - All: displays added or removed text in red and adds a comment for explanation.       
  •  - Original: strikes through deleted text but doesn’t show replaced text.

How Do I Redline a PDF Contract with Adobe Acrobat?

Here’s how to redline a contract using online PDF editing tools like Adobe Acrobat: 

  • Open your web browser and the Edit PDF tool. 
  • Choose SELECT A FILE to locate your PDF.
  • Add comments or sticky notes, underline or strikethrough text, and highlight.
  • Select DOWNLOAD to complete the process. 

How Do I Redline with AI-powered Automation Technology?

How lawyers redline contracts has changed considerably in the past five years with the rapid acceleration of legal technology. For example, software can now perform most of the work of in-house counsel. Heavily marked contracts can be sent to drafters or senior counsel for a closer look while contracts that align closely to corporate standards and industry best practices can be quickly moved down the workflow—keeping legal teams agile and efficient.

Why Businesses Are Switching to Automated Redlining Tech

With digital transformation seeping into countless businesses across all industries, corporate legal departments are realizing that previously arduous contracting tasks can be made much easier and more efficient with the right technology. Serious delays may arise when key personnel are out of the office or during times of turnover when investments in playbook training are obviated and the learning curve seems endless. 

No matter how well trained a reviewer may be, humans are fallible and mistakes happen due to fatigue, distraction, and uncertainty—potentially costing companies thousands of dollars in contract breaches or lost opportunities.

Given the many benefits of technology, it’s clear why automated redlining solutions are the superior option:

  • Ease of use: Feeding a contract into an automated system is as easy as sending an email.
  • Speed: Why spend weeks reviewing a contract when it can be done in 5 minutes?
  • Cost conservation: Tech cuts down on training and hiring expenses.
  • Integration: Redlining software can easily integrate with contract lifecycle management solutions.

LexCheck: Next-Gen Redlining Automation Technology, Today

LexCheck’s award-winning, automated redlining solution provides lawyer-quality contract review in minutes—unlocking true business value by helping companies save hours, reduce manpower, and increase opportunities for high-level strategic thinking. Don’t spend countless hours comparing contracts, redlining them, and looking for errors. Let LexCheck take the first pass instead. 

Getting started is easy:

  • In-house counsel uploads a new contract draft to the system.
  • PDFs are converted to Word for redlining.
  • LexCheck automatically compares the draft to the company’s legal playbook.
  • Drafts are also measured against attorney inputs and proprietary best practices.
  • Errors, omissions, and deviations are marked up by AI for review.
  • Contextual support for suggestions are attached to aid with review and negotiation.
  • Drafts are returned fully redlined and can even be color-coded for risk in five minutes’ time.
  • Legal staff can then implement changes with the click of a button. 

While most in-house counsel develop their skills and learn how to redline a contract in law school, the learning curve for training new staff on company policies and procedures can be incredibly steep. LexCheck streamlines training with a single, uniform approach that consistently falls in line with company standards. In fact, LexCheck users see on average a 99% reduction in training costs.

Technology undoubtedly plays an important role in modern redlining. It frees employees from archaic workflows that fail to maximize their potential. And just as important, it empowers lawyers and legal teams to focus their efforts on value-adds that grow their companies and their careers.

Reach out to LexCheck at or request a demo to learn how to redline a contract using the latest in AI and automation technology. 

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