Beyond Redlines And Spell-Check: Proofreading Tips From The Dark Ages, By John J. Paschetto


The advent of personal computers and word-processing software has given lawyers a set of tools that practitioners in pre-computer days never imagined. Hard as it may be for young lawyers to conceive, before

about 1980 you could not “create” a new document in a matter of seconds simply by saving an old document under a different name. You could not hit a key to find every occurrence of “Jones” and replace it with “Smith.” “Searching” a document for a certain provision meant skimming the whole thing with your own eyes.

Computer technology has freed lawyers and their assistants from countless dull, mechanical chores. Now, if you want to know how one version of a document differs from another, you needn’t compare the versions line by line. The computer will do it for you in an instant and will clearly mark what was removed and what was added. When a document is changed, no one needs to retype all of it and proofread all of it; only the specific changes must be keyboarded and proofed.

Yet these wonderful advances in technology can lull us into a false sense of security. Spell-check and grammar-check are excellent tools, but they are not substitutes for proofreading. Redlining is even more helpful—I’d probably give up air conditioning first. But there are times when redlining is just not possible. Then what do you do?

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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