How to ensure a contract hasn’t been changed before signing

A step-by-step guide on how to use document comparison software to find any changes in an execution version of a document before sending it to your client for signing.

June 24, 2024
How to ensure a contract hasn’t been changed before signing

Signing a contract is the most critical point of the whole negotiation process, and it can be particularly stressful when trying to ensure an execution version does not differ from the agreed version before signing. You can’t risk eyeballing it or assuming it's correct, considering that even a small change has the potential to alter the most significant parts of the agreement, resulting in a disadvantage to one of the parties, including a risk of financial losses that can occur from signing the wrong contract.

You can avoid the extra stress by using document comparison software to compare an execution version of a document to the one you have previously reviewed to find any changes before sending it to your client for signing. Read on to see the step-by-step process on how to do this with Draftable Legal.

When lawyers need to quickly check contracts for changes before signing

Commonly, when two or more parties have finalised negotiations and agreed to the execution version (in a Word document), one party will prepare an execution version (as a PDF) and send it to the other parties for signing.

The other parties cannot rely on the PDF version to be the same as the agreed Word document version, so the convention is to compare both documents to confirm there are no substantive differences between the two documents. Only then can the PDF version be shared with your client for signing.

Without comparing the execution version of the document, you run the risk that the signed PDF version is not the same as the agreed Word version. This can happen for various reasons, such as the other party making a mistake and exporting the wrong version of the agreement to PDF, or they may include some new provisions or changes without telling the other party.

As legal teams often need to be able to perform these final checks quickly without missing a single change, they need a fast and accurate document comparison solution that can compare multiple file types including PDF files and scanned documents.

Read more: How to track changes in contracts during the review and negotiation process

How to find any changes before signing a contract

You can use Draftable Legal to find the differences between two documents. As the document comparison solution built specifically for lawyers, it’s equipped with the technology you need to run accurate comparisons in just a few clicks.

Here’s how we make it easy:

1. Choose the types of files you want to compare

In most cases when checking an execution version for changes, you need to compare a Word document with a PDF. With Draftable, you simply drop your Word and PDF document into the same launcher and click compare. There’s no need to convert the PDF into a Word document or pre-run OCR as Draftable has built-in OCR which compares scanned documents.

Screenshot of how to upload documents in Draftable Legal launcher

Draftable can compare a range of other file types including:

Read more: Draftable Legal vs Microsoft Word Compare for legal document comparison

2. Upload the files and launch the comparison

Draftable integrates seamlessly with Word, Outlook, and leading DMS including iManage, NetDocuments, SharePoint, Worldox and Epona 365. This allows you to quickly find and compare files directly from your DMS, active Word document, or email, enhancing your workflow efficiency.

For example, if you received an execution version via email, there’s no need to save it locally first before comparing – simply drag and drop the file into the Draftable launcher or use the ‘add to compare’ command available via the Draftable add-in in Outlook.

If the version of the document you need to compare is saved in your DMS, there’s also no need to save it locally first. You can upload files directly from your DMS or browse for them directly from the Draftable launcher.

Screenshot of how to upload files to Draftable Legal from email

3. Review the comparison your way

With Draftable Legal, you can choose how you’d like to view and export your comparison output:

1. Redline in Draftable viewer

This is the most popular option, as our purpose-built viewer allows you to review comparisons in redline. The Draftable viewer (shown on the screenshot below) displays the full list of changes made in the document, making it easy to cross-check if the execution version contains any substantive changes. It also includes a three-pane view, meaning you can simultaneously view the versions of the document you used for the comparison in parallel with the comparison redline on a single screen.

Comparisons can also be exported directly from the Draftable viewer in your preferred format including:

  • PDF redline
  • PDF with changed pages only
  • Word with tracked changes
  • Word redline

When exporting your comparison, you can also include a summary report, which outlines the number of specific changes made within the document.

Screenshot of the Draftable viewer for redline comparisons.
This image represents a screenshot of the Draftable viewer for redline comparisons.

2. Review in MS Word

If you are accustomed to reviewing documents within Word, Draftable allows you to choose between Word with tracked changes and Word redline outputs. With tracked changes, you can navigate through the changes via Word's review tab and accept/reject them, while Word redline output would only show changes marked up within the document, without the review and edit options available for tracked changes. You can include a summary page in your Word output, which can be a helpful indication of how many and what type of changes have been made in the document.

3. Side by side in Draftable viewer

This option (shown on the screenshot below) allows you to view both input files next to each other with changes highlighted, and a dynamic scroll function allows you to review changes in parallel with both documents. The changes list is also available, and the side-by-side comparison can be exported in PDF format.

Screenshot of the Draftable viewer for side by side comparisons
This image represents a screenshot of the Draftable viewer for side by side comparisons.

4. Export the comparison output

With Draftable Legal, you also have multiple options for exporting, saving, and sending your comparison output. You can save your comparison locally or directly to a DMS. You can also copy your comparison output file with a single click and paste it into your preferred platform including a new email, pre-written email, or channels like MS Teams and Slack.


If you’re concerned about ensuring contracts haven’t been changed before signing to avoid the risks of signing a wrong document, Draftable Legal is the reliable and accurate solution. You can start a free five-day trial to check if it’s right for your firm, or get in touch with our experts to learn more.