Outlook tips

How to remove tracked changes in an email

May 21, 2024


Daniel Yim

Some drops of water splashing into a pristine pool

What do we mean by tracked changes?

It’s common for lawyers to indicate edits they’ve made to a draft email by manually styling those edits as highlight, underline, blue, strike-through or similar. We’ll refer to this as tracked changes for the purposes of this article, although it’s also technically possible to have Word-style tracked changes in an email too (you’ll need to follow the process described here).

The problem with tracked changes in emails

Tracked changes are important because learning is important. In fact, regardless of size, practice area or jurisdiction, developing internal talent is consistently listed as a top (if not the top) strategic priority for law firms.

But while manually styling text so that people can see the changes is important for learning, it also requires someone to tidy up all the formatting before the email is sent externally. This introduces a risk that something is missed and an email is sent out that still contains tracked changes.

How can we avoid this?

Ways to ensure tracked changes are removed from emails

  1. Select the entire text of the email and make it the same colour (e.g. black): Making everything the same colour is an easy solution, and while you’re there, it’s also worth clicking the highlight button and selecting No Color. This of course assumes you don’t need anything presented in a different colour. It also won’t address stray underlining or strike-throughs.
  2. Clear All Formatting: The Clear All Formatting button is found within the Format Text tab in the Outlook ribbon. This will remove all formatting (underlines, colours etc) from the selected text. For example, you can select an entire paragraph and click Clear All Formatting to remove all styling within that paragraph. Just be aware that it will make strike-through text not strike-through (rather than deleting it), which is probably not what you want. It will also remove any numbering or bullets. And if there are any words that are intentionally bold or underline, it will remove that styling too.
  3. Proofread: Attention to detail makes a difference and there’s no getting away from it. Check and double-check the email before it’s sent out.

Sideline can accept/reject tracked changes in emails

The easiest way to ensure all tracked changes are tidied up is to use Sideline’s built-in accept/reject feature. This allows you to select marked-up text and simply click accept/reject in the Sideline Outlook Add-in, similar to how you’re used to doing it in Word. You can even select entire paragraphs and click accept/reject to accept or reject all of the changes within those paragraphs, ensuring you don’t miss anything.

But perhaps even better than this, with the Sideline Outlook Add-in, you no longer have to manually style each edit in the first place. Sideline allows you to make edits in clean, and then send in clean. Once the edited email is received by the original drafter, they can press one button in Sideline to see a redline in a sidebar. In this way, you can efficiently deliver feedback while at the same time eliminating the risk of tracked changes being retained in the final email that’s sent out.

To see a demo or learn more, please contact us.

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