On Fridays, we like to poll our readership on random subjects. Often these reader polls relate to matters of style and usage. Past polls have covered such important topics as favorite email sign-offs and whether to use “pleaded” or “pled” in legal writing.

Here’s today’s topic. It’s about what to call a version of a document in which changes from a prior version — or, more generally, divergences from a different version — are indicated on the face of the document (e.g., with strikethrough text showing deleted language, or double-underscored text showing added language).

From a curious tipster:

Is it “redline” or “blackline”? What is the difference, and why does my Asset Management group seem to use one, and M&A the other? Could this be the basis of an ATL usage survey?

FWIW, this Google Answers thread is the only online discussion I have found of this matter, and it is not especially responsive.

We’re curious as well. In the chambers in which we clerked, such documents were called “redlines.” But at the law firm for which we worked, most of our colleagues called them “blacklines.”

What’s your preference? Take the poll below, and opine in the comments.


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