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Redlining involves marking up contracts. You highlight changes, suggest revisions, and note disagreements. This ensures clarity and transparency. It helps prevent misunderstandings and disputes.

Redlining also tracks the history of changes. You get to see how the document evolves, step by step, which makes reviewing agreements a breeze. Every edit and comment is logged, so you always know who made which change and why.

Traditional vs. digital redlining: A brief comparison

Traditional redlining involves marking up paper contracts. This can be slow and hard to track. Digital redlining happens on a computer device and is faster and more efficient.

Traditional redlining:

  • Time-consuming
  • Hard to track changes
  • Difficult to collaborate

Digital redlining

  • Fast and efficient
  • Easy to track changes
  • Facilitates real-time collaboration

Digital redlining tools like Google Docs make the process seamless. You can edit in real time, leave comments, and track every change. This saves time and also makes your contract negotiations more precise and transparent.

Why use Google Docs for contract redlining?

Google Docs offers several features that make redlining contracts straightforward and efficient:

  • Suggesting mode: This mode is perfect for proposing changes without altering the original text. When you make edits in Suggesting mode, the changes appear as suggestions that can be accepted or rejected by others. This keeps the original document intact while allowing for collaborative editing
  • Comments and notes: You can leave comments and notes directly next to the text. This feature is incredibly useful for discussing specific sections of the contract. Team members can reply to comments, creating a thread of discussion that is easy to follow and reference
  • Version history: Google Docs keeps a detailed version history of all changes made to the document. You can see who made what changes and when, and even revert to previous versions if necessary. This is invaluable for maintaining a clear record of the negotiation process

Pros and cons of using Google Docs for contract redlining


#1 Ease of access and collaboration

Google Docs is accessible from anywhere, making it easy for team members to collaborate in real time. This accessibility is particularly beneficial for teams working remotely or across different locations.

#2 Real-time updates

See changes as they happen, ensuring everyone is always on the same page. This real-time feature reduces the risk of miscommunication and speeds up the review process.

#3 Integration with other Google Workspace tools

Google Docs integrates seamlessly with other Google Workspace tools like Gmail, Google Drive, and Google Calendar, enhancing your overall productivity and workflow.


#1 Potential security concerns

While Google Docs offers robust security, it may not meet the highest standards required for highly sensitive legal documents. Consider additional security measures for documents with sensitive information.

#2 Internet dependency

Google Docs requires an internet connection to access and edit documents. This dependency can be a limitation if you need to work offline.

Setting up Google Docs for redlining

To make the most of Google Docs for redlining contracts, you need to know how to set it up properly. Let's break down the essential steps.

#1 Creating a new document

Before you can start redlining, you need to create or upload your contract in Google Docs.

  1. Open Google Drive
  2. Click the "+ New" button on the left side of the screen
  3. Select "File upload" from the dropdown menu
  4. Choose the contract file you want to upload (e.g., .docx, .pdf)
  5. Once uploaded, right-click the file and select "Open with" > "Google Docs”

Your document is now ready for redlining in Google Docs.

Formatting basics for legal documents

Proper formatting ensures your document is professional and easy to read. Here are some basic formatting tips:

  • Font and size: Use a standard font like Times New Roman or Arial, size 12
  • Margins: Set margins to 1 inch on all sides
  • Line spacing: Use 1.5 or double spacing for readability
  • Headings: Use heading styles for different sections (Heading 1 for main titles, Heading 2 for subtitles, etc.)

To format your document in Google Docs:

  1. Select the text you want to format
  2. Use the toolbar at the top to choose your font, size, and other formatting options

#2 Sharing and permissions

Sharing your document securely and setting the right permissions is crucial for maintaining control over your contract. Here’s how you can share your Google Docs safely:

  1. Click the "Share" button in the top right corner of your document
  2. Enter the email addresses of the people you want to share the document with
  3. Choose the appropriate permission level (Viewer, Commenter, or Editor)
  4. Click "Send"

Setting appropriate permissions for collaborators

Set the correct permissions for your team to ensure everyone has the right level of access.

  • Viewer: Can only view the document
  • Commenter: Can view and leave comments but cannot make changes
  • Editor: Can make changes and leave comments

Adjust permissions by:

  1. Clicking the "Share" button
  2. Clicking the dropdown next to the collaborator’s email
  3. Selecting the desired permission level

#3 Enabling suggesting mode

Suggesting mode is a key feature for redlining in Google Docs. It lets you propose changes without altering the original text.

Steps to activate the suggesting mode

Follow these steps to enable suggesting mode and start collaborating on your document.

  1. Open your Google Docs document
  2. Click the pencil icon in the top right corner
  3. Select "Suggesting" from the dropdown menu

Now, any changes you make will appear as suggestions.

Difference between editing and suggesting modes

  • Editing mode: Changes you make directly alter the document’s text. This is the default mode
  • Suggesting mode: Changes appear as suggestions, allowing others to accept or reject them. This mode is perfect for collaborative editing and redlining

Switch between modes by clicking the pencil icon and selecting either "Editing" or "Suggesting."

Redlining contracts in Google Docs

Once your document is set up, it's time to dive into the redlining process. Google Docs offers several features that make this process efficient and collaborative. Here’s how to use these features to your advantage.

#1 Making changes and suggesting edits

Suggesting edits in Google Docs is easy and helps keep track of all changes:

  1. Enable Suggesting Mode: Click the pencil icon in the top right corner and select "Suggesting." This mode allows you to make changes without altering the original text
  2. Inserting text: To add new text, simply type where you want the addition. The new text will appear in a different color and will include a note indicating it is a suggestion
  3. Deleting text: Highlight the text you want to delete and press the "Delete" or “Backspace” key. The text will be crossed out, showing it as a suggested deletion
  4. Modifying text: Change any existing text as needed. Your modifications will be highlighted and marked as suggestions, making it clear what changes you are proposing

Highlighting changes ensures that critical edits stand out for everyone reviewing the document:

  1. Highlight text: Select the text you want to highlight
  2. Click the Highlight button: In the toolbar, click the highlighter icon and choose a color This makes it easy to spot key changes and areas that need special attention

#2 Adding comments for explanations or questions

Comments allow you to add context, explanations, or questions directly in the document:

  1. Highlight the text: Select the part of the text you want to comment on
  2. Click the Comment Button: Click the comment icon (or right-click and select "Comment")
  3. Type Your Comment: Enter your comment in the box that appears and click "Comment." This feature is great for asking questions, providing explanations, or suggesting alternative wording

Resolving and replying to comments

  1. Reply to comments: Click on the comment and type your reply in the provided box. This allows for back-and-forth discussion directly in the document
  2. Resolve comments: Once the issue is addressed, click the "Resolve" button to close the comment. This keeps the document clean and ensures that only open issues remain visible

#3 Tracking and reviewing suggested changes

Reviewing edits made by others ensures you stay on top of all changes and understand the rationale behind them:

  1. View suggestions: As you go through the document, you’ll see edits highlighted in different colors. Each color corresponds to a different person, making it easy to see who suggested what
  2. Hover over suggestions: Hover over the suggested text to see a note explaining the change and indicating who made it. This provides context and helps you understand the reasoning behind each edit

You have the control to accept or reject suggested changes, ensuring the final document meets your standards:

  • Click on the Suggestion: Click directly on the highlighted text or the note associated with the change
  • Accept or reject: Use the checkmark to accept the suggestion or the "X" to reject it. This allows you to manage the final content of the document, incorporating only the changes that meet your approval

#4 Accessing and navigating version history

Google Docs keeps a detailed version history, which is crucial for tracking changes and reverting to previous versions if necessary:

  1. Open version history: Click "File" > "Version history" > "See version history." This will open a panel on the right side of the screen showing a list of all saved versions
  2. Navigate versions: Click on any version in the panel to see the document as it was at that point in time. This helps you understand how the document has evolved and who made specific changes

If you need to revert to an earlier version of the document:

  1. Select the version: Find the version you want to restore in the version history panel
  2. Click "Restore This Version": Click this option to make the selected version the current document. This is useful if recent changes need to be undone or if you want to revisit an earlier draft

Best practices for redlining contracts in Google Docs

These best practices will help your in-house legal team collaborate efficiently, communicate clearly, and make precise edits, ensuring every contract detail is reviewed and documented accurately.

#1 Maintaining consistency in formatting

Legal documents often follow specific formatting rules. Ensure you use these consistently to maintain clarity and professionalism.

  • Headings: Use consistent heading styles to structure the document clearly
  • Numbering: Number clauses and sub-clauses consistently for easy reference
  • Citations: Follow a standard citation format for legal references to maintain consistency and credibility

#2 Ensuring clear communication

When making comments or suggestions, clarity is key. Be direct and to the point to avoid confusion and ensure that your feedback is understood and actionable.

Example: Instead of "Consider revising," write "Revise clause 3 to clarify delivery terms."

Tip: Use bullet points or numbered lists within comments for complex suggestions.

Always maintain a professional tone in your comments and suggestions. Even if there are disagreements, keep the communication respectful and focused on the issues at hand.

Tip: Use polite language and avoid emotional or subjective remarks. Phrases like "Please consider" or "It might be clearer if" can be useful.

#3 Respecting contributions from all parties

Collaboration is a team effort. Respect the input from all team members and stakeholders, acknowledging their contributions and providing constructive feedback.

Tip: Always acknowledge suggestions, even if you do not agree with them, and explain your reasoning for any decisions.

Regularly check and respond to suggestions and comments. This practice keeps the process moving forward and ensures timely completion of the contract review.

Set regular review sessions to go through all comments and suggestions, ensuring nothing is overlooked and everyone is on the same page.

#4 Protecting sensitive information

Legal documents often contain sensitive information. Protect this data by using secure practices to prevent unauthorized access.

Use strong passwords and limit access to authorized users only. Regularly update access permissions to ensure only current team members have access.

Consider Google Docs alternatives for contract redlining

SpotDraft's VerifAI is a game-changer for redlining contracts. This AI-powered tool streamlines the contract review process, making it faster, more accurate, and less cumbersome. Here's how VerifAI can help and the advantages it brings:

Streamlined contract review

  • Automated redlining: VerifAI automates the redlining process by identifying and marking up changes directly within the contract. This reduces the time spent manually reviewing and editing documents, allowing legal teams to focus on more strategic tasks.
  • Consistent formatting: The tool ensures that all contracts are formatted consistently, which is particularly useful for large legal teams working on multiple agreements simultaneously. This uniformity reduces the risk of overlooking important changes.
Also read: Revolutionizing Contract Review with AI and Manual Validation

Increased accuracy

  • Error detection: VerifAI is designed to detect errors and inconsistencies that might be missed by the human eye. This includes catching deviations from standard clauses, improper language use, and formatting errors, which enhances the overall quality of the contract.
  • Risk mitigation: By identifying potential risks and flagging problematic clauses, VerifAI helps legal teams mitigate risks early in the contract review process. This proactive approach ensures that contracts are compliant with internal policies and external regulations.
Also read: Effective Contract Risk Management: Top Tips & Strategies

Efficiency and time-Saving

  • Faster turnaround: Automating the redlining process significantly reduces the time it takes to review contracts. This speed is crucial for in-house legal teams that need to process high volumes of contracts under tight deadlines.
  • Resource optimization: With VerifAI handling the initial review and redlining, legal teams can allocate their resources more efficiently. Lawyers can focus on complex negotiations and strategic legal advice rather than getting bogged down in routine contract edits.
Also read: How to Review a Contract Faster and More Efficiently

Enhanced collaboration

  • Real-time collaboration: VerifAI supports real-time collaboration among team members. Multiple users can work on the same document simultaneously, making it easier to incorporate feedback and finalize contracts faster.
  • Version control: The tool keeps track of all changes and maintains a comprehensive version history. This makes it easier to revert to previous versions if needed and ensures transparency in the review process.
Also read: Unlock Efficiency with Contract Collaboration Software

For an advanced and efficient approach to contract redlining, try out SpotDraft's VerifAI. It leverages AI to speed up the contract review process, ensure accuracy, and reduce costs, making it an invaluable asset for any in-house legal team.

Try VerifAI: AI Powered Contract Review Tool

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