1. What is a redline?

A redline (a.k.a. a blackline) is a document that shows how one document was modified to become another document. The deletions in the original document is shown as a red strikethrough text, whereas insertions to the original document is shown as a blue underlined (sometimes double underlined) text. Stated differently, the redline represents two documents in a single document, while stylistically highlighting the differences between the two.

This practice of representing two documents in one is very useful for editing and reviewing when revising a document ("What ended up changing?"), and also when negotiating a contract ("Which proposed changes are acceptable/unacceptable?"). As such, legal industry has long utilized redlines. In the old days, people used to create redlines by hand, which took substantial time and effort to do, not to mention it containing myriad of errors. However, computer algorithms were developed to automate the process, and it represents one of the first instances of wide-spread adoption of technology that is specific to law in the legal industry.

2. Which document formats are supported here?

Redlines.com supports most document formats, including:

3. What does the redline app do exactly?

The redlining process, at its core, begins with a form of Levenshtein Distance, which measures the differences between two texts by number of changes required to make one into another, and displaying the actual character-by-character differences. The raw results are difficult to read by a person, because the redline is done at a 'character' level, instead of at the 'word' level. A second algorithm is necessary to convert the character-level redline into the word-level by adding filler text, thereby improving the readability of the redline. For example, if the word "hello" became "help", a character-level redline would show hellop and the word-level redline would show hellohelp (which is longer than the character-level redline in total length due to the bifurcation of "hel" into "hel" and "hel", creating a juxtaposed text).

4. Microsoft Word already has a Compare function. Why do I need it?

There are numerous reasons why a user may want to use a web based application to redline a document. First, Microsoft Word might not be installed in the device you are using, which is becoming more common in the increasingly mobile-centric world. You might also have versions of MS Word that does not have such features (such as Microsoft Word 2011 for Mac), or a version that is only capable of displaying the result in track changes mode. Second, redlines.com supports more formats than MS Word for redlining. And finally, redlines.com is capable of 'changed pages' only mode where only pages containing changes are compiled in the PDF, which is not available for MS Word.

5. How long does redlining take?

It depends on the length of the document but it typically lasts only a few seconds, and for longer documents, a few minutes. If you are familiar with the existing process, the time it takes is very similar to running it on your desktop. However, because this is a web-based application, please note that additional time may be required under heavy internet traffic and/or app use. To address possible sources of delay in performing the redline, we have also included an "Email me the result" option so that the app can email the user when it is complete. It should be noted that email tends to be less secure than direct download because emails generally need to pass through multiple servers, some of which may not encrypt its transmission, before reaching the recipient.

6. How secure is your website?

Our app is designed by an experienced attorney who understands that documents come with both information and responsibility. We utilize the industry standard SSL encryption so that the communication between the server and client browser remains private. With respect to payment, we use widely utilized technology to accept and process credit card payments without saving any of the credit card information onto our servers, achieving stringent requirements of the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). We immediately and permanently delete the document upon completion of the redlining process and monitor our servers to ensure that no document is being left behind due to any failures or interruptions during the process. Any outgoing emails, which are automatically sent via a designated outgoing email server, are not monitored and never saved in any 'sent' box. Therefore, if you lose the redline, we are unable to retrieve it for you; our goal is to eliminate any possibility of document retention since such procedure exposes us to legal risks and increased server maintenance costs. We do, however, retain information relating to the transaction such as the date, time, user name and name of the redlined file for tracking purposes. And we never share any of our customer information to third party vendors for marketing - we hate spam just as much as you do!

7. Do you have a corporate edition of this app? Will you be able to implement a feature I need? I have other questions!

Yes, we have corporate edition of redlines.com, which can be hosted in your firm's intranet. It will be similar to www.redlines.com, but will not have payment related functions and provide greater flexibility to the administrators. The pricing is based on per-server basis, and most institutions will reap substantial cost savings over per-user licenses. In addition, we have additional corporate products that can handle redlining. Please leave us a note in the Contact Us page!