Rick’s Guide to using Redaction in Acrobat X Pro

Picture of a page with manual redaction marks on itRedaction is the permanent deletion of data from
documents.

In the past, markers were used to black out information on documents.

These days, it simply doesn’t make sense to print out a document to redact it. The process is slow, expensive and inefficient.

Law firms, government agencies and corporations around the world rely on Adobe Acrobat to safely and permanently remove content from the data stream of the documents.

Adobe first offered redaction tools starting with Acrobat 8 and redaction capabilities have continued to improve with each new release.

New Redaction Features in Acrobat X

  1. Repeat Redaction Mark across Pages
    Useful for redacting headers and footers from documents
  2. Right-click to apply Exemption Codes
    Add case codes and privacy codes as overlay text to redaction marks
  3. Ability to apply multiple Exemption Codes
    Multiple exemption codes may be listed on a redaction mark
  4. Partial Pattern Redaction
    Use this feature to mark part of a pattern for redaction. For example, you could mark part of a Social Security Number or Credit card number. Useful for cases where you need to identify individuals in part of a case without revealing personal identifying information.
  5. Set Color and Opacity for Redaction Marks
    In Acrobat 9 and earlier, redaction marks (during review, prior to being applied) always displayed with a red border. In Acrobat X, you can set the appearance to be, for example, 50% red with no outline.
  6. Comments Panel
    The Comments Panel now indicates the Overlay Text or Exemption code for the redaction mark

So, you want to redact some files. How do you get started?

To help, I bring you Rick’s Guide to Using Redaction in Acrobat X Pro.

Topics Covered

  • Redaction Workflow
  • Adding, Previewing and Deleting Redaction Marks
  • Changing the Appearance of Redactions
  • Working with Multiple Redactions
  • Applying Redactions to permanently delete content
  • Using an Action to Automate the Redaction Process

Redaction Workflow – Important!

It’s critical to understand the redaction workflow in Acrobat which is:

  1. Mark items to be redacted
  2. Review marked items
  3. Apply Redactions (Removes the information from the document)
You must Apply Redactions to Remove Information
Marking items merely indicates that you want to remove the information. You MUST Apply Redactions to permanently remove information from the document.

 

Suggested Workflow

Redaction Workflow Chart

Step 1: Set Redaction Preferences

Automatically Copy Text into the Sticky Note for a Redaction

Redactions exist as a type of annotation until you apply them which permanently removes the information. This preference is handy during review since it copies text into the sticky note.

  1. Choose Edit—> Preferences (Windows) or Acrobat—> Preferences (Mac)
  2. Select the Commenting category from the list on the left:
  3. Enable the check box labeled “Copy Selected Text into Highlight, Crossout, and Underline comment pop-ups
  4. Click OK

For example, let’s say you wanted to redact a date.

When you select text using the Mark for Redaction tool, the text will automatically be copied into the sticky note:

A note in Acrobat showing that text has been copied into it automatically.


Step 2: The Basics: Adding, Previewing and Deleting Redactions

The tool you will use for almost all of your work is the Mark for Redaction tool.

To find the Mark for Redaction tool . . .

  1. Open the Tools Panel
  2. Twirl open the Protection section
  3. Select Mark for Redaction

Picture of the Protection panel in Acrobat X

Context Sensitive

The Mark for Redaction Tool cursor changes depending the content to be redacted.

Picture of text cursors and image cursors in Acrobat X

To Redact Text

  1. Select the Mark for Redaction tool
  2. When you hover over text, the Mark for Redaction tool becomes a text selection cursor. Select the text to mark it for redaction.
Tip: Did you select too much?
Hit CTRL-Z to undo the redaction.

 

To Redact a Graphic or Image

  1. Select the Mark for Redaction Tool
  2. Place the cursor over an image or if no objects are present, across hair cursor (+) appears.
  3. Draw a rectangular selection area to redact. Anything found within the area— images, text, vector objects— will be “cut out” and redacted.An image redaction in Acrobat X
Force an Area Redaction
Sometimes it can be difficult to select text properly. You can force Acrobat to present the crosshair for an area redaction by holding down the CTRL key.

 

Previewing a Redaction

Using the Mark for Redaction tool, you may preview the redacted item.

  1. Select the Mark for Redaction tool
  2. Hover over a redaction mark to preview it

Deleting a single Redaction Mark

Until you click the Apply Redactions button, the redaction marks are editable. To delete one, hover over it and click.

Selecting a redaction mark

You’ll see some subtle animation around the edges. Hit the DEL key to delete the redaction.

 


Changing the Appearance of Redactions

By default, redactions appear as solid black rectangles. The default appearance serves most folks just fine, but may be customized:

To change the appearance of a redacted item, right-click and choose Properties. . .

You may set a number of options such as…

Color Overlay text Repeating, colored text
Redaction Color
Overlay Text
Overlay Text Color and Repeat

 

To change the properties of a Redaction mark

  1. Select the Mark for Redaction tool
  2. Hover over the redaction mark you wish to change
  3. Right-click and choose Properties

The Redaction Properties window is straightforward. Options below are referred by number:

Picture of Redaction Properties window with callouts

  1. Set the color of the redaction here.
    This is the appearance of the redaction after it is applied. You may also choose “no color” as an option.
  2. You may have overlay text on top of the redaction.
  3. Choose typeface for overlay text
  4. Set font size for overlay text
  5. Auto-size scales the text to fit the width of the redacted area
  6. Enable to repeat overlay text on the redaction mark
  7. Set alignment of overlay text
  8. Type in custom text to appear on top of the redaction.
    Note: Will only be available if “Use Overlay Text” is checked
  9. Enable to repeat the text over the redacted area
  10. This field displays Redaction Codes entered using the Code Sets below (11).
    Note: You cannot type into this field
  11. Redaction Codes.
    Redaction codes pre-defined sets of text used to denote the reason or statute under which the redaction was made. Acrobat Pro includes two pre-populated sets— U.S. FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) and U.S. Privacy Act. You can also create and save your own sets.
  12. Set the Outline Color for the Redaction Mark
    Sets the color of the comment mark before the redaction is applied

To change the default appearance of all redaction marks:

  1. Use the Mark for Redaction tool to create a redacted item
  2. Right-click and choose Properties to change the appearance. Click OK.
  3. Right-click on the item and choose “Make Current Properties Default”


Working with Multiple Redactions
(Delete or change Properties)

Acrobat’s Comments Panel offers a list view of all of the Redaction marks in the document.

From the Comments Panel, you can delete or change the properties of many redaction marks at a time.

Picture of the Comments Panel in Acrobat X
Picture of the Comments List in Acrobat X
Open the Comments Panel, then twirl down the Comments List section
Select one or more comments, then right-click and choose Properties

 

Working in the Comments Panel

You can select a comment (Redaction mark in this case) by clicking on any of the items in the list.. Hold down the CTRL key if you need to select a discontinuous range of comments.

To select all of the redaction marks:

  1. Select the first item in the list
  2. Scroll to the bottom of the list
  3. Press SHIFT and select the last comment.

To delete a Redaction mark:
Hit the DEL key (or choose Delete from the pop-up menu) to delete any selected comments.

To change the properties of one or more comments
Make a selection then, right-click and choose Properties.


Search and Redact

Acrobat X Pro Search and Redact feature may be used to search intelligently for:

  • Single text strings
  • Multiple text strings
  • Patterns such as Social Security numbers

. . . in a single document or across multiple documents.

To search and redact

  1. Open the Tools panel
  2. Twirl down the Protection section
  3. Click Search and Remove
Selecting Search and Remove text in the Redaction Properties panel

Looking at the Search and Redact Window

The Search and Redact window offers a few options:

  1. The Arrange Window button conveniently sizes the Search and Document windows
  2. You can search in the front most (current) document or point to a whole folder of documents.
  3. Set the search scope for single or multiple words, or patterns
  4. Enter text to search for (only available for Single word option)
  5. Determine whether you will search for whole words or if capitalization matters

Searching for a Single Word

  1. Click Search and Remove Text in the Protection Panel
  2. In the Search window, click Arrange Windows if necessary
  3. In the Where would you like to search area, select In the current document or to browse to folder of files to perform cross-document search.
  4. in the Search for area, choose Single Word or Phrase
  5. Enter your text in the search field
  6. Click Search and Redact

Working with the Results

Once the search is complete, the results window opens.

Search Results

  1. Clicking Check All will add a mark to all the words found
  2. You can also individually check any of the results. If you click on the result, you can preview the word in the PDF
  3. Click Mark Checked Results for Redaction to mark the words found

Searching and Marking Multiple Words

Acrobat X can search for and mark multiple words simultaneously. Here’s how:

  1. Click Search and Remove Text in the Protection Panel
  2. In the Search window, click Arrange Windows if necessary
  3. In the Where would you like to search area, select In the current document or to browse to folder of files to perform cross-document search.
  4. in the Search for area, choose Multiple Words or Phrase
  5. The Words and Phrases to Search and Redact window opens
    – Enter each word you wish to search for and click Add
    (Optional) Import a list of words
  6. Click OK Acrobat will search through the document(s) and place a redaction mark on all words found

    Searching for Multiple Words or Phrases


Using Pattern-based Redaction

Acrobat can use pattern recognition to find information that varies such as:

  • Phone Numbers
  • Credit Card Numbers
  • Social Security Numbers
  • Email Addresses
  • Dates
Need to Create Your Own Patterns?
See Creating and Using Custom Redaction Patterns

 

Here’s how to use patterns to find this type of information

  1. Click Search and Remove Text in the Protection Panel
  2. In the Search window, click Arrange Windows if necessary
  3. In the Where would you like to search area, select In the current document or to browse to folder of files to perform cross-document search.
  4. In the Search for area, choose Patterns
  5. Select the type of information you want to find:F‌ind pattern-based information
  6. Click the Search and Redact button
  7. The Search window displays the results:
    A) Click to begin a new search if you did not find what you were looking for
    B) Click to save a PDF or CSV of the search results
    C) Click Check All to create a redaction mark for each pattern found
    D) Click on any item in the list to review the found pattern in the document window.
    D) Check any item to make a mark for selection
    E) Enable to mark part of the pattern (see below)
    F) Click Settings to change the marking options
    G) Click Marked Checked Results for Redaction to mark them in the document
    Picture of the Pattern Redaction Search Window

    Marking Part of a Pattern
    To identify individuals in a case without breaching confidentiality, you may wish to mask part of a found pattern. Using the settings at right, the first characters of a Social Security number are masked. This allows us to identify individual based on the remaining digits: 

     

    Picture of the Settings window for marking part of a pattern

     


 

Step 3: Review Redactions

It’s important to carefully review each page of your document, especially for scanned documents.

Fortunately, redactions in Acrobat are managed using familiar commenting and annotation tools. Thus, you can:

  1. Add notes and comments to Redacted items and send them to another Acrobat Professional user to review, reply to or change
  2. Participate in a Shared Review of a document. If other users have Acrobat Pro, multiple people, in real time, may indicate redactions.
  3. Summarize comments and notes attached to redacted items as part of a review or archival workflow
  4. Approve, reject or delete items to be redacted using the Comments Panel

To add a note/comment to an item marked for redaction, do one of the following:

  • Right-click on the item and choose “Open Pop-up Note”
  • Double-click on the item

To view the Comment panel, choose one of these methods:

  • Open the Comments Panel, then twirl down the Comments List section

Create a new Document which Summarizes Redactions

If you were headed to meeting with the other side, and you expected some challenges to your privileged and redacted documents, you might want to create a summarized version of your redacted documents to take with you.

This process creates a new, consolidated PDF. Redaction annotations are displayed as call-outs on the document:

To create a summarized document:

  1. Open the document containing your redaction marks.
    (You need to run this step before you apply redactions.)
  2. From the Comments Panel- Comments List, choose the flyout menu and choose Create Comments Summary
    Picture of how to find the Create Comments Summary option in Acrobat X
  3. The Summarize Options window will appear. I suggest choosing the second option:
  4. Click the Create PDF Comment Summary button.
Need to create a Privilege Log?
Go to the Actions Exchange on the Acrobatusers.com website to download the free Create Comment Summary Action.

This Action reports on your marked files and can generate a spreadsheet file of all of your redactions.

 


 

Step 4: Make Redactions Permanent (Apply Redactions)

Applying Redactions in Acrobat permanently removes the information from the document once you save it.

To apply redactions:

  1. Click the Apply Redactions button in the Protection Panel
    Picture of Protection panel for Applying Redactions in Acrobat X
  2. A warning window appears. Click OK
    Picture of warning window when applying redactions
  3. The Redactions are applied. Next, you will see another warning message prompting you to examine the document for metadata. Click the Yes button.Prompt for Examine Docuemnt
  4. The Examine Document panel opens.
    Examine Document finds hidden information such as metadata, hidden text, comments, etc. that could lead to an accidental disclosure. Note that the hidden OCR text layer can be removed, too. Click the Remove button.Picture of Remove Hidden Information window
  5. Choose File> Save
    If you set the Preferences in Step 1, Acrobat will rename your file automatically when you go to save it:

 

Use an Action to Automate Redaction

Acrobat X Pro Actions allows you to automate several steps of the Redaction process.

I’ve built a legal-specific Action to help automate the process. Rick’s Redaction Action performs the following steps:

  1. Prompts you to locate the documents you wish to redact
  2. Converts them to PDF (for supported file types like Word, Excel, etc.)
  3. OCRs the document (optional)
  4. Prompts user to redact the document
  5. Applies the redactions
  6. Prompts for metadata removal (optional)
  7. Renames the file with the _redacted.pdf suffix
  8. Saves the file as an Acrobat 5 level file (PDF 1.4) which is compatible with court filing systems

Download the Action

Redaction_Action.pdf
(700K)
Hint: Right-click and Choose Save Target As . . . to save to your desktop

 

Install and using the Action

Follow the instructions in the PDF to extract and install the Action. The PDF also contains full instructions for using the Action.

Below, I’ve included some abbreviated instructions so you can get a sense for how the Action works.

  1. Create a folder on your desktop or other location. e.g. “Redacted Output”
  2. Open the Tools Panel and go to the Actions Wizard section.
  3. Click on Rick’s Redaction Action
    Picture of Actions Wizard panel for running an Action
  4. The Action Confirmation window appears. Click the Next button.
    Picture of Action Confirmation window
  5. The Select Files window appears.
    Click the Add Files button at the top of the screen and locate the files you need to redact.
    How to add files to be Redacted
  6. Once you have added the files, click the Next button.
    The Files window loaded and ready to go
  7. Find the folder you created in Step 1. This folder will be the destination for the redacted documents.
    Selecting the output folder
  8. Acrobat will open the first document in the list.
    You’ll be asked if you want to OCR the document. Click OK if you do.
  9. Acrobat automatically select the Mark for Redaction tool.
    – Make any redactions necessary on the document.
    – Click the Next Step text in the yellow Action notifier
    Actions Next Step guide
  10. Acrobat will continue to walk you through the various steps of the Action for each document in your list.
Don’t like the Action? Change it . . .
Modifying the Action is easy. I’ve included instructions in the PDF documentation.

 

Final Thoughts

Keep in the mind the following when taking on projects that require redaction:

  1. DO NOT FORGET TO APPLY REDACTIONS!
    Simply marking text and graphics does not actually remove it. 
  2. Using Acrobat X Pro, you can use Actions to automate much of the redaction workflow such as:
    • Prompting the user to redact multiple documents in sequence
    • Apply Redactions
    • Word List Redaction
  3. Search and Redact will only find text in searchable documents. OCR documents first.
    Even so, since OCR is an imperfect process, carefully review scanned documents.
  4. Carefully review all documents prior to submission in discovery. A two-person review team will catch many more errors than a single person.
  5. Know your court rules and judges orders regarding redaction. Ask the clerk of the court for clarification if you need more information.
  6. Don’t Skip the Examine Document Step
    Naive users may elect to cover up information in electronic sources and mistakenly believe it is redacted. The Examine Document function can detect and fix these issues.

82 Responses to Rick’s Guide to using Redaction in Acrobat X Pro

  1. Pingback: Redaction Tips and Techniques for Acrobat 9 « Acrobat for Legal Professionals

  2. KB says:

    AWESOME> THIS HELPS ME A BUNCH! THANKS

  3. Crystal Hamilton says:

    I’ve followed the instructions for redaction and encountered a significant problem. The original document (with redactions MARKED) is 2,845kb, however, when redacted is jumps to a huge 18,701kb. Why does the file jump in size so much and is there something I can do to reduce it?
    ————– Rick’s Reply —————–
    Use the PDF Optimizer.

  4. T says:

    Is there any way to make the redaction code window be always on top/hover to make switching of redaction codes easier?
    —– Rick’s Reply—–
    Sure. You need to create an exemption code set and then it will always be available via right-click.

  5. Pingback: How NOT to redact a PDF – Nuclear submarine secrets spilled | Naked Security

  6. Charis Wilson says:

    With 8 & 9, when doing redactions the overlay text automatically displayed when you hovered your mouse over it. This made it very helpful when having attorneys review proposed redactions for FOIA. Now, however, the only thing that shows up is the black box but no text, even though the Overlay text option is set. If I apply the redactions and save the document, then the text shows up. However, I don’t want to actually apply any redactions until the attorneys have approved them.

    How do I set it as a default that the overlay text displays when the cursor floats over the redaction box?

  7. Robyn says:

    I have been redacting documents in Adobe Acrobat 9 X Pro. However, I now want to mark and copy some text out of one of these documents. The redact text icon won’t go away, and it only lets me mark text for redaction now! I have removed the Quicktools for redaction from my toolbar, but am stuck with the ‘mark for redaction’ cursor. How do I mark text for copying in a document I have been redacting?

    Thank you.

    • Rick Borstein says:

      It sounds like Acrobat rasterized your document which it will do in cases where it cannot apply redactions without doing so. Try selecting text with the regular selection tool.If you can’t select it there, you’ll need to OCR the file first.

  8. Pingback: Ministry of Defence fails at redacting nuclear sub secrets- PDF-Panne: Briten veröffentlichen geheime Infos über Atom-U-Boote | BerndPulch.org

  9. adam says:

    dude. awesome. exactly what i needed. thorough and informative. easy to follow.

  10. Pingback: How NOT to redact a PDF – Military radar secrets spilled | Naked Security

  11. Pingback: How NOT to redact a PDF | National Cyber Security

  12. Suzanne says:

    The “comment summary” isn’t showing my redaction codes. It just lists the pages where there are redactions. The “comment” column is blank.

    • Rick Borstein says:

      The comment summary won’t show up unless you actually have a comment attached to the redaction mark. After you mark an item for redaction, double-click on the redaction mark to add a note to it.

  13. Doug says:

    Redacting documents in a PORTFOLIO? I am in-house counsel. I often collect many emails on one subject/case/matter in a litigation hold or discovery situation. In Outlook (PC) I just gather, highlight, r-click and convert to PDF. Now I have a single PDF portfolio of all the relevant emails. If I find more I use the “append to PDF” option in Outlook. Very slick.

    Problem: when I open the single PDF portfolio I can search or scroll through the emails in the portfolio looking for things to redact, but to do the actual redaction I have to open EACH email individually then each and every time: go to VIEW –> Toolbars –> Redaction before I can select the text and apply redaction. Next email, same thing.

    What I would like to be able to do is have the redaction toolbar open all the time and use it while the portfolio is open (as opposed to when each email in the portfolio is open). Next, but distant second, choice: at least have the redaction toolbar “stay available” as I go from opening one email at a time (as opposed to having to do the Open – view – toolbars – redaction routine).

    Thanks for all your work and wonderful use of screen caps.

    • Rick Borstein says:

      You can create an Action to redact a list of words to redact (Word List redaction) across all the files in the Portfolio. Make sure the Portfolio is not open and also MAKE A COPY first. Then, for the Action start, choose the Portfolio.

  14. Xavier says:

    Hello
    I normally work with thousands of PDF documents and I need to highlight all those documents in a certain folder… but… THIS IS IMPORTANT, USING ALL THE WORDS CONTAINED IN A TXT FILE…
    So… does the Autoredacting Features of Adobe Acrobat X support dictionaries?
    Without anydoubt… the information provided in this blog is SUPEREXTENSIVE AND SUPERACCURATE, but if you could give me a (sorry) “sillies how-to” to make this in simple steps 1) 2) 3)… I’d be the first silly that would thank you that.

  15. dennis says:

    Thanks for the plug-in (mine was missing ‘Rick’s”)…following instruction ok. When I try to review and save the redacted file, I get an error code 14…couldn’t read the file. Help with the solution, please.

    Also, instead of individually selecting selecting words, I would like to select a pattern of 2 or 3 paragraphs that are now unnecessary text content and appears on 1 in every 4 pages. I am trying to do a ‘global’ pattern search/redaction without finding each occurrence myself.

    Any thoughts….? Thank you

    • Rick Borstein says:

      That wouldn’t be possible to select that much text and have it work. If the text appears in the same place in every page, or range of pages, you could add a redaction mark on it and choose “Repeat Mark Across Pages”

  16. Cindy McCoy says:

    Thanks for the info, but this does not tell me how to get rid of multiple redaction marks when I have accidentally selected “Repeat Mark Across Pages.” I do not have time to remove the same mark from hundreds of pages, so I have to scrap what I’ve done and start over.

    • Rick Borstein says:

      Acrobat offers multiple undo, so you can undo your change if you haven’t closed the document. Just hit CTRL-Z to delete the repeated marks. If you have closed the document or quit your session, you can use the Comments Panel to view the list of all redaction marks. You can hold down Shift or Control to select comments from the list and then delete them. This would probably work best if you did not have other redaction marks on subsequent pages or if you used overlay text on your repeated redactions so you can identify them.

  17. Dave says:

    Help Rick! Thank you for a thorough explanation on Redaction. I am still having an issue. I understand completely everything you have said.

    However, I cannot get the Selected Text to delete! I Mark the text, the moving lines occur in a box-like manner around the text, and… what do I do next?

    Do I right-click and then delete? (tried that, didn’t work). Do I click “Apply” on the tool bar in the right column? (can’t do that because “Apply” for some reason is shaded out).

    I know it sounds dumb, but I cannot take it past the Marking process and to finality, which is the redaction. Any ideas? Thanks.

  18. Dave says:

    Thanks Rick. But what if the Redaction cannot be applied because it is shaded out? That’s the big issue I am having.

    • Rick Borstein says:

      That would only be the issue if the file is encrypted or opened from a read-only location such as CD Media or a read-only folder.

  19. Jon says:

    When I go to Tools\Protection I don’t have a “Mark for Redaction” tool. I have Adobe Acrobat X 10.1.1. Is there an “Acrobat for Legal Professionals” that I need? Or is it standard with Acrobat X? I did check the box in Prefernces\Comments.

  20. Dave says:

    One last question Rick, please. Once the item is redacted and the Black Box covers the redacted info, is there a way to remove everything, including the noticeable Black Box? Example: I want to redact and entire paragraph and not show a big Black Box, thus removing all indication that there was a redacted paragraph (I am doing this for cosmetic reasons). Is this possible?

  21. Nadir Kamal says:

    Thanks for the wonderful info. It helped me to get rid of redaction mark by changing it to no colour in redaction properties. But, there’s one thing that I am not able to do. I want to automate the removal of the text box, i.e. the text that I redacted was located in a square box (object). I am able to remove the box manually on all the other pages also by using “repeat mark across pages”. But, as there are 30 boxes on a page and a large number of files, I have to first mark all the 30 boxes for redaction before applying “repeat mark across pages”. I, therefore, want to automate the process of redacting the object as I have done for redacting text using the “Action Wizard” to search & remove. I am using Adobe Acrobat Pro X. Any help will be highly appreciated. Thanks.

    • Rick Borstein says:

      Why not just remove the text boxes themselves from the Comments panel? Or, use Remove Hidden Information to remove all of the comments at once?

      • Nadir Kamal says:

        Thanks for replying. But, there are no comments listed in the Comments List. Also, no hidden information except for metadata info. The boxes can also be removed using the Edit Object tool. But, then that also cannot be automated. I have around 500 files having the same structure. The same text in all the 500 files within the boxes can be removed through batch processing. But, the boxes are not being removed. Don’t know what to do.

        • Rick Borstein says:

          I’d need to see your file to understand what is going on. Sounds like the boxes were added in the source application before conversion to PDF.

  22. Andy Brady says:

    Great article! I have a customer who wishes to redact legal documents and they need to be confident that once redacted the information could not be recovered. They currently have Acrobat 9 professional, do you know if this would meet their requirement, or would they need to upgrade to Acrobat X? Thanks, Andy.

    • Rick Borstein says:

      Acrobat Pro 9 can securely redact documents. Acrobat X has a new sanitize command that offers one-step, salt the earth metadata removal.

  23. Anna Kabler says:

    When I redact, I get a line under the text and a large dot then another line. The lines do not go completely underwhere the text was. When I redact I go inbetween ** text ** I need it to be a straight underline with no dots and under every text including spaces that was removed. I’ve changed the custom text to have only 3 undrscores all the way to 12 and nothing is consistant. Either I get a partial line or 3 lines.

    At this moment, the dots are gone, but the underlines are inconsistant.

    Any ideas on this? Thank you, Anna

  24. Jenny says:

    Rick- this is a great guide! thanks!
    One question though- you said that the program should come with the FOIA and Privacy Act exemptions preloaded in the overlay redaction code. Mine doesn’t seem to be. Is there something else I need to do for them to show up? Or do I need to create them like I would custom exemption codes?

    • Rick Borstein says:

      Those are installed by default, but perhaps your IT folks removed them. Of course, there is no redaction in Acrobat Standard, so perhaps that is your issue?

  25. David Kocian says:

    I am using Acrobat 8 Pro. Cannot upgrade because of compatability issues in a large company. Redaction has worked great up until a recent document. If I make no redactions, and click the “apply redactions” button, it tells me there are none in the document. If I make even a single redaction, and tell it to apply redactions, it starts going through the document and then freezes and gives me an error code asking me if I want to advise Microsoft, and no matter what I do it closes up the program. It is only doing this on one document. It still works fine on others. I have closed the document and opened it again and continue to get the same results. Any suggestions? I am at a loss. Thanks, David

    • Rick Borstein says:

      Sounds like your document is corrupt. I’d go back to the original document, print it to the PDF Print Driver to flatten it, then start over.

  26. Gilad D. says:

    Has anyone ever encounter a document that “refuses” to be redacted? I have a document that was created in PDFCreator 0.9.3 (PDF Producer is GPL GhostScript 8.54) and when I apply redactions to it, the underlying content is not really gone. I can see it when I zoom in and out of the document for a split-second, and the number of words in the underlying document is still the same (although they are just gibberish)… Any thoughts?

    Could it just be a corrupt PDF file that displays well, but is “immune” to the redaction process?

    Thanks in advance!

    • Rick Borstein says:

      Ah the hazards of poorly created PDF. Did you know that almost 1/3rd of the code in Adobe Reader is there to make it able to open poorly formed PDF? The PDF creator you mentioned is freeware and pretty awful. Try printing the document through the Adobe PDF Print driver then try redacting it. That process is called “refrying”.

  27. andy says:

    Hey anyone can you help me with an issue, a PDF portfolio of 1150 emails, trying to apply redactions…keep getting an error message when I open any of the documents….having trouble reading the document(11) wont let me apply…..any ideas

    • Rick Borstein says:

      Sounds like your file is corrupted. If you are saving onto a network share, that is usually the culprit. Save big files locally then copy to the network.

  28. Roberta says:

    I am getting black markings after applying my redactions to a document in Acrobat 9 Pro. What could be causing this? Also, around my redacted text there is a shaded type of box that I don’t remember being in any other document I have redacted and used text to cover the redaction. Thank you.

    • Rick Borstein says:

      When you are redacting an image-based PDF, that is the result of anti-aliasing. Improvements were made in Acrobat X.

  29. George Kaiser says:

    I think one would want to disable the application preference for JavaScript before starting a redaction process.

    • Rick Borstein says:

      I can see of no reason to do so unless you were trying to process documents with known JavaScript functions that interfere with Batch Processing. However, I think Batch Processing won’t work with JS turned off.

  30. Clinton Dyches says:

    Excellent article – I bought the “Classroom in a Book” for Acrobat Pro X and it did not cover this most important feature in detail. Thanks for the tips.

  31. Jeff Brown says:

    Sorry but I am using Acrobat 9 but can’t find anywhere to ask this question. I click on the link for your 9 discussion and it brings me back here. I am not in the legal profession obviously but we have estimates that are hand written and scanned to PDF. When a job is accepted, we create a copy of the estimate for the guys in the field. We would like to redact the prices from it.

    My question is: Is there any way to apply a standard redaction shape to a PDF without having to manually slect the area to redact every time?

    Thanks for the help.

    • Rick Borstein says:

      I don’t know that I understand what you want to do. Acrobat X can redact the same area across multiple pages if that will work for you. Create your first redaction area, then right-click and choose Repeat Mark across pages . . .

  32. Stephanie McGhee says:

    Excellent article. Everything worked wonderfully. Thanks so much.

  33. laura says:

    Is there a faster way than highlighting each item to redact quicker? I have to remove all cost $ infor from a giagantic doc. thanks for any advice

  34. Karen says:

    trying to add footer to my document – taking much too long – – what could be wrong? Have to keep ending the task. Thanks.

    • Rick Borstein says:

      I’m assuming you are using headers and footers to do this. There could be a number of reasons. I would 1) choose a different font and then 2) consider that the PDF file may be corrupt. Try printing the file to the PDF printer and then try h/f again.

  35. Under “Step 1: Set Redaction Preferences”
    step 2 says to 2.”Select the Commenting…” which is correct, but the picture says to select Documents. This is confussing.

  36. John Sheppard says:

    I haven’t seen this question yet: has anyone hacked a properly redacted PDF’d document? We are a big Acrobat shop (v. 8) and handle lots of FOIL requests and of course our legals are concerned that it isn’t secure.

    • Rick Borstein says:

      No. If Redactions are applied properly, they are irreversible. We added additional features in Acrobat X including the new Sanitize option.

  37. mai says:

    I did the unthinkable. I marked a document for redaction and forgot to click on apply. When I closed the document and opened it again, the parts that I marked for redaction were still visible so I applied redactions and then saved it as a new document. However, the old document still has the red outline. How do I remove these red outlines from the original document (or the unredacted one)? Thanks.

  38. Velda says:

    I am trying to use Acrobat to redact a folder of multiple Outlook e-mails saved in a portfolio. When I view the portfolio in Reader it displays all the e-mails. When I view in Acrobat only the first e-mail is displayed and the area where other e-mails should be listed is black and empty. I cannot access the other e-mails to redact. What is wrong that the other e-mails in the portfolio file won’t display in Acrobat XI? How do I fix this problem?

  39. Susan says:

    I’m new to Adobe Acrobat X Pro, and I found your Guide very helpful. However, I’m having an issue that I haven’t seen addressed in your blog. The redactions I’ve chosen “spill over” into the next line of text and obscure more than the words I’ve selected for redaction. Can you help me with this? Thanks!

    • Rick Borstein says:

      You’ll need to do an area redaction instead. Hold down the CTRL key to select the area to redact instead of the text.

  40. Diane Beauchamp says:

    Can I redact a doucment without scanning it and creating a new pdf of a document that contains an electronic signature?

    • Rick Borstein says:

      No. A digitally signed document generally only allows comments, but not changes which will materially affect the file.

  41. Samir Dautovic says:

    Thanks very much for this guide – really great well written information!
    Would you know how to enabled “Locked” option that appears at the bottom of Redaction Tools Properties window? We don’t have any record of intentionally disabling it in our deployment package. I’m not able to find that information on the “intranets of things” including Enterprise Toolkit – Administrator locking.
    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks in advance!

  42. Eric Butler says:

    Hey Steve, I need some help.

    I am using the Search and Remove Text Function in Adobe XI Pro for redactions. However, when I execute the function the program redacts the requested material but also the punctuation following the material. In this case I am trying to redact email address but need to leave visible the comma that follows each email address.

    Example:
    The Text appears as follows:
    abc@email.com, qrs@email.com, xyz@email.com

    I would like to redact the bracketed material (leaving in commas):

    [abc@email.com], [qrs@email.com], [xyz@email.com]

    But, instead, the Search and Remove Function is removing the commas too:

    [abc@email.com,] [qrs@email.com,] [xyz@email.com]

    I have tried to fiddle with the Settings but can’t figure it out. Please help if possible. Thanks – Eric

  43. Bill G says:

    I am using Acrobat 9. I think I remember being able to redact multiple items on a page without haveing to go back and select “mark for redaction” but currently this is the case and is very annoying. If I scan a page and want to go in and redact out 10 blemishes, I have to keep going to the menu to select “mark for redaction” each time. How do I change this so that I can select multiple items to redact with only selection the redact button only once? Thank you.

    • Rick Borstein says:

      The Redaction Tool should always stay selected and does in my testing. If you are working with a scanned doc without an OCR layer, you can press CTRL (OPT) on Mac to force an Area Redaction.

  44. Joan says:

    Hi Rick,
    We are using Acrobat X Pro. For some reason on every document, every time someone “Mark for Redaction” and “Apply Redactions” it automatically also Search and Removes text. I’m think it is because the first time it was used someone checked the “Would you also like to examine your document for additional document information?” and also the “Always perform the selected action” box. If this is what happened, how do I turn it off? Thank You.

    • Rick Borstein says:

      It sounds like someone accepted this as a default. You will need to reset your warnings by choosing Edit>Preferences and going to the General section. Click the Reset Warnings button.

  45. Kay says:

    I have a user who is redactiong the first 8 digits of an account number. She selects these digits for redactions and selects Apply Redaction. At this time all the digits she select disapear from everywhere on the document, but just the account number. Do you know what could be causing this? She hasn’t had any problems until today.

    Thank you!!

    • Rick Borstein says:

      Sorry, I don’t understand the issue. If you are using Search and Redact, it will mark the digits entered throughout the document. When you apply the redaction, the content will be removed.