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Picture this: you and another party are trying to establish a partnership. Of course, this would have a contract involved. And the first version of a contract is unlikely to be the last. You or the other party may suggest edits until both of you are happy with the terms. But how do you notify them of your desired changes? Through the process called redlining a contract.

In this article, you will learn more about redlines in contracts and how to redline using Wondershare PDFelement. If you want to close that deal or secure that partnership, continue reading.

In this article
  1. What Does Redlining a Contract Mean?
  2. Can You Redline a Contract if It’s Digital?
    1. Redlining a Contract Using Wondershare PDFelement
    2. Send Redlined Agreements to Your Potential Contracts Using Wondershare PDFelement
    1. Is Redlining Legal?
    2. Maintain Professionalism
    3. Compatibility Issues
    4. Overuse and Misuse of Redlining
    5. Misinterpretation of Redline Changes
    6. Track Changes

Part 1. What Does Redlining a Contract Mean?

Back in the days when digital documents were less common, contracts were almost always in printed form. In that time, to suggest edits, you have to underline sentences and paragraphs with a red pen. Then, you can add comments to a space near that to propose changes. Or, you can propose the changes on a separate page and reference your redlined text. That is where the term "redlining a contract" came from. It is the main process happening during negotiation.

Part 2. Can You Redline a Contract if It’s Digital?

Yes. With electronic documents and digital tools, proposing changes and informing the other party about them is easier. You can open a contract with a tool like Wondershare PDFelement and use the Comment feature to redline it.

There are many advantages to doing it this way. For instance, contracts redlined electronically look more professional, as the comments appear on a separate panel - not on any page of the contract. This is also cost-effective, as you will not be wasting paper and ink for revising or redlining a contract.

Furthermore, you can send the contract to the other party almost instantly. That is a lot faster than sending printed contracts through mail or delivering them personally.

On top of that, many of the tools you can use to send redlined contracts also offer encryption features. You can utilize that to password-protect your contracts to ensure that only authorized people can open them.

Part 3. How To Redline a Contract?

Most digital contracts are in PDF. While you can edit PDFs using a variety of tools, it's best to stick with actual PDF tools. Your best option is Wondershare PDFelement. Why?

Wondershare PDFelement allows for easy redlining with the Highlight feature under its Comments tab. Furthermore, it has a Share and Encrypt features. We talked about the importance of these in the section above. But that is not all! Wondershare PDFelement also has OCR and scan features. Thus, you can use it to convert printed contracts into digital documents.

Part 3.1. Redlining a Contract Using Wondershare PDFelement

Here are the steps you need to follow to redline a contract using Wondershare PDFelement:

  1. Open your contract PDF using Wondershare PDFelement. You can do it by clicking Open PDF or by dragging and dropping the contract into the PDFelement user interface.
  2. Go to the Comment.
navigating to wondershare pdfelement comment tab
  1. Click Highlight.
  2. On the dropdown menu, select Red as the color. You can also adjust the transparency if you like.

selecting the highlight color for redlining
  1. Select the text you want to change by clicking and dragging your mouse.
redlined a sentence using wondershare pdfelement
  1. The "Comments" panel will appear on the left. Click Add Comment. Explain why you want to change the term or condition and what you want it to be instead.

adding a comment to propose revision

Part 3.2. Send Redlined Agreements to Your Potential Contracts Using Wondershare PDFelement

Wondershare PDFelement has Encrypt and Share features. You can use these to share redlined contracts securely. Here's how to use them.

  1. Click Protect > Encrypt.
wondershare pdfelement protect and encrypt features
  1. Check Open Password.
  2. Add the password you want the contract to have.

adding an open password to pdf
  1. Check Permission Password.
  2. Enter a password different from the Open Password.
  3. Edit the permissions.
adding permission password and editing permissions
  1. Click Save.
  2. Click the Share button on the top left of the screen. Save the document if you haven't yet.
  3. There are three sharing methods, but for contracts, the recommended one is through Email. Select the email service you want to use, compose the email, and send the contract.

sending the redlined contract using email

Part 4. Things To Remember About Redlines in Contract

Redlining a contract is a serious thing, and you should not take it lightly. Remember, we are talking about contracts here. And contracts are as formal as a document can get. Therefore, you should not forget the basics of this process, and you should know about the unwritten rules.

Is Redlining Legal?

This is the most important question. Contracts are legally binding, so you should never do anything illegal to them. But there is no need to worry. Redlining contracts is completely legal. It is a standard part of the negotiation process where parties review, mark up, and propose changes to a contract before it is finalized and signed.

However, it's important to note that the terms and conditions you propose must still comply with applicable laws and regulations. Also, coercion or other unethical practices during the negotiation process are not legal.

Maintain Professionalism

Even if you are very against what's written on the contract, you should not be aggressive about it. Redline the condition you want to be changed. When proposing a change, use polite, professional language. As much as possible, make it not feel confrontational.

Compatibility Issues

Parties must communicate which tool they will be using for redlining digital contracts. If you don't, it will cause massive issues. Even though PDFs appear the same across different devices and platforms, the comments may not. As such, the redlines and comments may be placed inaccurately. While you can figure out where they should be, it's slower than when things are in the right place.

Overuse and Misuse of Redlining

Excessive redlining can prolong the negotiation process and create unnecessary complexity. The main thing to remember is that redlining every aspect of a contract, including minor details, may hinder progress. Furthermore, it can strain your relationship with the other party. You should exercise discretion and focus on addressing significant issues rather than nitpicking every clause or provision.

That is the overuse of redlining. But what is the misuse of redlining? It is when you employ aggressive tactics or make unreasonable demands. This can damage trust and may even break the deal.

Misinterpretation of Redline Changes

Remember that we told you to use polite, professional language when proposing a change? Well, there's one more thing to remember. You should also ensure clarity by providing concise explanations and context. You do not want the other party to misunderstand what you want to happen. That will unnecessarily prolong the negotiation.

Track Changes

Whether redlining a contract was done traditionally or digitally, you must track the changes. Any change that you forgot or skipped to record will slow down the process. And when sending someone a revised contract, you should send them a copy of the redlined contract and a copy of the revised one. You can also include a copy of the original contract and a record of all things that you have changed during your negotiation.

That's it! Those are the things you have to remember when redlining a contract digitally. As long as you keep these in mind, your contract negotiations will go smoothly.


Redlining a contract is something that you should take seriously. Considering how many things you need to do and remember, using digital tools for redlining has become a must. They streamline things, saving time and money for all parties involved.

Wondershare PDFelement is one of the tools you can use for redlining contracts. Its Comment feature allows you to propose changes. The Share feature is perfect for collaborative efforts like this. Meanwhile, the Encrypt feature allows you to share contracts securely and manage permissions. Last, you can also use Wondershare PDFelement to revise the contract. What more can you ask from a contract redlining tool?

Audrey Goodwin
Audrey Goodwin Apr 24, 24
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12 years of talent acquired in the software industry working with large publishers. Public speaker and author of several eBooks on technical writing and editing.