Stop contract trickery with a Word document

There are risks when sending a Microsoft Word document to someone when you don’t need to, one landlord found that out the hard way.  A Word doc can be changed if you’re not careful. We have some suggestions for avoiding unexpected editing traps.

A tenant in the USA received a draft lease via email in the form of an editable Word document.  So they playfully added an extra clause:

Notice how Word’s auto numbering adjusted the clause numbers automatically.

The dislike of vanilla cake is not explained nor the aversion to cake on weekdays.  These dietary quirks are beyond our expertise with Office <g>.

Why send a Word document?

Sending an editable file in a situation like that is just asking for trouble.  Far better to send a PDF file or a read-only Word document.

Recent versions of Word have a ‘Save as PDF’ option as well as ‘Send as PDF’ where the PDF is created and send in one step.

Make document Read Only

Making a read only Word document is done from File | Info | Protect Document | Restrict Editing.  That opens a side-pane to let you chose ‘No changes (Read only)’

Mark as Final

Or to File | Info | Protect Document | Mark as Final which makes the document ‘Read Only’ and also flags the document as ‘Final’.  If someone opens the document, they’ll see this in the status bar.

Tracking unexpected edits

If you must send an editable Word document, there’s a few options to catch any unexpected edits.

Track Changes

Track Changes – turn Review | Track Changes ON before sending.  When you get the document back, you should be able to see any changes made in the reviewing pane.

Compare documents

Compare – Review | Compare lets you see any differences between two similar documents or merge revisions from multiple sources.

Collaborate online

An alternative to emailing a Word document is to post it at your OneDrive account. 

You can send a read-only or edit link to people.   It’s quite simple to use but is usually only appropriate when you know the recipient is a bit computer savvy.

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