Stay out of the news and learn how to properly redact your documents. Personal identity information cannot be included in documents or exhibits that are filed with the court. Make sure you are not inadvertently exposing your client’s information and understand the correct way to redact, especially when using software to help you.

In the PDF Skills Webinar (see video) we covered:

  • Faux Redactions: How the media pulls 'redacted' content
  • Properly redacting in different PDF document types
  • Common struggles and how to troubleshoot

Below is the how-to tutorial for proper redaction using Adobe Acrobat.

Correct Redaction Setup in Adobe Acrobat

  1. Open your PDF document and select the “Redact” icon.
    Always use the software’s redaction tool

    which can be found in the panel to the right of your PDF document or in the Tools tab
  2. Once you click the icon, a Redact menu appears.

  3. In the “Redact Text & Images” dropdown, open “Properties” and make sure the redaction color selected is black.

  4. Click OK and you will go back to the Redact menu icons. You are ready to start marking your redactions.

The 3 Steps of Redacting Documents in Adobe Acrobat

Redacting is always three steps:

  1. Select or mark your redaction
  2. Apply the redaction
  3. Save the document

When you hover near the text or area you want to redact, your cursor will become either a selection tool that looks like a plus + or a symbol that looks like a book [I].

  1. Select or mark your redaction
    Select the text with the book tool or draw a box around what you want redacted with the plus tool.
  2. Apply the redaction(s)
    After you have marked a redaction, the blue “Apply” button will become enabled. ONLY click on the “Apply” button when all of your redactions have been marked in the document.
  3. After clicking “Apply” a pop-up box will appear
    Make sure the “Sanitize and remove hidden information” is enabled/turned on and click OK.

    Once you click on OK the redaction is burned in to the document and you see the resulting black box.

    NOTE: You are NOT done. You must now SAVE THE DOCUMENT properly.
  1. Save the redacted document
    You MUST save the redacted document to ensure that the information is permanently removed from the document as well as any metadata.

    Adobe adds the suffix “_Redacted” to the filename and prompts you to save the document.
    Click “Save” and your redaction is now complete!

Remember: Always use the REDACTION tool and redacting is always 3 steps.

  1. Select or mark your redaction
  2. Apply the redaction
  3. Save the document – this is where people are most likely to mess up!

 If you simply draw a black box over information in your PDF documents, then you are not properly redacting. The media and all others can still access the information underneath the black box in the PDF.

Want to check if an item is properly redacted?

  1. Open your redacted file
  2. Highlight the area that is redacted and use CTRL + C to copy it
  3. Open a Word document and use CTRL + V to paste

A properly redacted file will only show the non-redacted information. Word may even pick up a picture of the redacted area and show that. No information that is redacted will be able to get grabbed in the copy-paste procedure. If you are seeing information you thought was redacted, your document has not been properly redacted, and you are at risk of exposing said info.


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