Rick’s Acrobat X Redaction Guide

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 documents.

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

In Acrobat X Pro, several new Redaction features were introduced:

  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 as overlay text 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 Appearance of Redaction Marks
    You can now set the appearance of the Redaction marks during review. For example, you can mark items with a transparent red overlay if desired.
  6. Overlay Text indicated in Comments List
    You can now view overlay text in the Comment list for quick review.

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

To help, I bring you Guide to Using Redaction in Acrobat X Pro. This article is and update of my earlier article for Acrobat 9 and offers a step-by-step guide to using these tools in your firm or organization.

In this article I cover:

  • Redaction Preferences
  • How to mark text and graphics for redaction
  • Setting common redaction properties
  • Adding Overlay Text and Exemption codes to a redaction
  • Creating a report of redactions
  • Applying redactions to permanently remove information
  • Using an Action to automate the redaction workflow

Getting Ready

Redactions must be carefully applied and managed. Here are a few tips to get ready:

  1. Copy your “to be redacted” documents into a new folder on your hard drive
  2. OCR the documents if necessary
  3. Review the documents to get a sense of what needs to be redacted:
    • Personal identifying information such as drivers license numbers, social security numbers, etc.
    • Names of spouses, minors or others not associated with the case
    • Trade secrets such as formulas, computer code, etc.

Suggested Redaction Workflow

Please review the following image below for a suggested workflow.

A Redaction Workflow diagram

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.

I suggest setting the the preference below to automatically copy text into the sticky note:

  1. Choose Edit> Preferences (Windows) or Acrobat> Preferences (Mac)
  2. Select the Commentingcategory 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

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


Step 2: Redacting Text and Graphics

To redact information in Acrobat X Pro. . .

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

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

Context Sensitive

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

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.
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.

 

Tip for Redacting an Image
You can select all of the pixels in an image for redaction by double-clicking on it with the crosshairs (+).

 

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

Redaction Hover Views


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.

You may set a number of options such as…

Applied Redaction Color Overlay Text Text Color and Repeat
Color Color overlay Overlay Text

 

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:

Redaction Properties

  1. Set the color of the redaction here. 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 the text over the redacted area
  7. Set alignment of overlay text
  8. Set color of overlay text
  9. Enable and type in the text string to appear on top of the redaction
  10. Exemption Codes will be listed here.
    Note: You cannot type into this box, Enable it to apply an Exemption Code
  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.
    Note: This only affects the appearance of the marked item, not the final appearance once redacted.
  13. Set the fill color for the Redaction Mark
    Note: This only affects the appearance of the marked item, not the final appearance once redacted.
  14. Set the Opacity of the Redaction Mark
    Note: This only affects the appearance of the marked item, not the final appearance once redacted.

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”
Frequently need to change color of Redaction Marks?
Use the Properties Bar, instead. Type CTRL-E (CMD-E on Mac) to open it. Select a Redaction Mark and you can change the color of it easily.

 


 

Deleting a single Redaction Mark

Until you click the Apply Redactions button, the redaction marks are editable.

Here’s how to delete a Redaction Mark

  1. Make sure the Mark for Redaction tool is selected
  2. Hover over the Redaction mark and click to select it
    Selecting a redaction mark
    You’ll see some subtle animation around the edges.
  3. Hit the DEL key to delete the redaction.

Adding Overlay Text and Exemption Codes to a Redaction Mark

Overlay text appearances on top of a redaction mark and is present even after redactions are applied.

Why would I use Overlay Text and/or Exemption Codes?

  • The judge has ordered you to place the reason for the redaction on top of the redaction mark to speed his or her review.
  • You want to limit the number of challenges to your redactions by supplying the other side with the reason the information was redacted.
  • You work in a government agency which has to make documents public. You may be required to place a code or other mark on top of the redaction to meet agency guidelines.

Adding Overlay Text to a Redaction Mark

  1. Create a redaction mark
  2. Right-click on the redaction mark and choose Properties
    A- Check Use Overlay Text
    B- Enter text into the Custom Text field
  3. Click OK

Adding an Exemption Code to a Redaction Mark

  1. Create a redaction mark
  2. Right-click on the redaction mark and choose either US FOIA or US Privacy Act
    (or exemption code set of your own creation).
  3. Repeat for as many exemption codes as needed per redaction

Creating Custom Exemption Code Sets

Creating exemption codes isn’t difficult, but it is not that intuitive. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Create a redaction mark
  2. Right-click on the redaction mark and choose Properties
  3. Click the Edit Codes button
  4. Click the Add Set button (A)
  5. Change the name of the set in the entry field (B)
  6. Click the Rename Set button (C)
  7. Click the Add Code button (D)
  8. Change the name of the code in the entry field (E)
  9. Click the Rename Code button (F)
  10. Repeat steps 7 to 9 for as many codes as needed
  11. Click OK when finished

 

Deleting or Changing Multiple Redaction Marks Simultaneously

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.

To open the Comments Panel

Click the Comments Panel and twirl open the Comments List section.

Working in the Comments List

You can select multiple comments holding down the down the CTRL key.

Hit the DEL key to delete selected comments.

To change the properties of multiple comments, make a selection then, right-click and choose Properties.

To select all the Redaction marks in the Comments list:

  1. Select the first comment in the list
  2. Scroll to the bottom of the list
  3. Hold down shift and select the last comment

 


Search and Remove Text

Acrobat X allows you to easily search and remove text.

Search and Remove Text 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

Click Search and Remove Text on the Protection Panel

Looking at the Search and Remove Text Window

The Search and Remove Text 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

Search and Redact Window

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 the Search and Redact button

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 opens
    A- Click to begin a new search
    B- Click to save the search results to PDF or CSV
    C- Click to Check All or Uncheck All results
    D -Select a search item to view the found result in the document window
    E -Click to enable marking part of the word for redaction (see below)
    F- Modify settings for partial word redaction
    G- Marks all found patterns in the document

 

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. Summarize comments and notes attached to redacted items as part of a review or archival workflow
  3. Approve, reject or delete items to be redacted using the Comments List
  4. Participate in a Shared Review workflow which allows you and your colleagues using Acrobat X Pro to collaboratively redact documents.

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 List:

  • Click the Comments Panel and twirl open 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:

A comment summary page in Acrobat

To create a summarized document:

  1. Open the document containing your redaction marks.
    (You need to run this step before you apply redactions.)
  2. Click the Comments Panel and twirl open the Comments List section.
  3. Click the fly out menu at the upper right of the Comments List and choose Create Comment Summary
  4. The Summarize Options window will appear. I suggest choosing the second option:Options in the Summary Options window in Acrobat 9
  5. Click the Create PDF Comment Summary button.
  6. Acrobat will create a new PDF which summarizes the comments (redaction marks) on the document

 

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. Open the Tools Panel
  2. Twirl open the Protection section
  3. Select Apply Redactions
  4. A warning window appears. Click OK
  5. The Redactions are applied. Next, you will see another warning message prompting you to examine the document for metadata. Click the Yesbutton.Prompt for Examine Docuemnt
  6. 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.

  7. Choose File> Save
    Acrobat will rename your file automatically when you go to save it:The _redacted suffix is automatically added by in Acrobat

Automating Redaction Workflow using Actions

Acrobat Actions can automated many of the steps in the redaction process.

I’ve create an Action that performs the following steps:

  • Prompts you to locate the documents you wish to redact
  • Converts them to PDF (for supported file types like Word, Excel, etc.)
  • OCR’s the document (if desired)
  • Prompts user to redact the document
  • Applies the redactions
  • Removes metadata
  • Reduces the file size of the document
  • Changes the file to an Acrobat 5 level file (PDF 1.4) which is compatible with court filing systems
  • Renames the file with the _redacted.pdf suffix
  • Saves the redacted documents in a folder of your choosing

Download the PDF with Instructions

Redaction_Action.pdf (674K)

Hint:

Right-click and Choose Save Target As . . . to save to your desktop

You will need Acrobat X Pro to run the Action.

PDF includes:

  • Installation information
  • Embedded Action
  • Instructions on how to use the Action
  • Customizing information

 

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. Use Actions to help automate the redaction process. You can:
    • Prompt the user to manually redact pages
    • Perform Word List redaction
    • Apply Redactions
  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.

73 Responses to Rick’s Acrobat X Redaction Guide

  1. supermann says:

    Thank you so much for this guide. If you don’t mind, would you also write a guide for how to use TouchUp text tool in the new Acrobat X Pro. Thanks. This function seems less intuitive in X than in v9.
    —– Rick’s Reply—
    There were not changes in the TouchUp tool (now called Edit Document Text).

  2. Mike says:

    Hi Rick – a really excellent guide, thank you. Wish you produced all of the material Adobe offer for Acrobat!

  3. Karen says:

    Thank you for the instructions to Create a new document which summarizes Redactions but this only summaries the Comments. Is there a procedure to summarize where I have redacted in the document?
    —– Rick’s Reply —-
    There are four options for summarizing documents. Three of them create a new rendition of the page which shows where you have redacted information.

  4. Katie says:

    You write a wonderful blog, and I check here first every time I have an Acrobat task to figure out. Hopefully you can help with this next issue…

    Do you have any suggestions for preserving custom overlay text after using the Examine Document process in Acrobat 9? I set Acrobat to display white overlay text on each redaction. After I apply the redactions, the white text is visible, until I finish the Examine Document/Remove process. When that process finishes, some of the redactions keep the white overlay text and some don’t. If I re-Examine the document, the document inspector identifies hidden text (typically my overlay text for the redactions) on each of the pages that no longer has the overlay text in white. I can then remove this text layer, but I end up with a redacted document where some of the black redaction remarks have the overlay text and some don’t. Any thoughts?

    • Rick Borstein says:

      Make sure your A9 is the latest version. I think that was a bug that was fixed with a dot release.

  5. Charis Wilson says:

    In Acrobat 9 Professional the proposed overlay text used to display when the reviewer hovered over the field. It no longer does that. If all the redactions are for the same exemption, that is not a problem, however, when the exemptioins differ it is an issue. Any suggestions?

  6. Julie K says:

    Thanks very thorough. Acrobat works great for redaction and saves many hours of work.

  7. Gil Jensen says:

    Rick – the guide was very useful.
    Recently, I was practicing redactions, and reviewed and marked for redaction over 600 pages. Some were text based redactions and others, thanks to your tip, were blocks of space redactions (where the text based redactions didn’t work). I then saved the document with a new name. Then, with the new named file attempted to “apply redactions”. Almost immediately, a screen popped up that read: Bad Parameter. I cannot apply the redactions! Now I am faced with having a paralegal print the 600 pages and then manually cross out/redact the things that I have marked for redaction. That makes this a waste of time and effort.
    I have searched for “bad parameter” comments and have been unable to find a solution.
    Any suggestions?
    Gil

    • Rick Borstein says:

      Sounds like you have a corrupt PDF which can happen with scanned docs. I recommend doing a Save As and then extracting pages to new documents, perhaps 50 at a time. That might help you identify a corrupt page element.

  8. Ludmil says:

    Dear Rick, I have a problem working on a digital library model of the linguistic works of my father donated to the New Bulgarian University in Sofia. The problem consists in a dilemma how to link NAMES written within STICKY NOTES in a PDF-document (with Acrobat 8.02 Pro) with the same NAMES written on an URL? Is there any solution to organize the linking?

    I would be very thankful if you could help me out!

    Warm regards in advance :)
    Ludmil


    Dr Ludmil Duridanov
    Contemporary Communication Studies
    New Bulgarian University
    BG – Sofia 1618
    +359 2 870 10 30
    +359 897 734 561
    +359 879 345 348
    +359 882 652 309

    • Rick Borstein says:

      Annotations cannot contain hyperlinks. In Acrobat, you can create a link on a bookmark, on a text or image on the page, or via a button

  9. Gilbert says:

    Is there a way to redact the same area on multiple pages at the same time, for example, a black streak left in the margin by a scanner? Every time I try to do a multi-page redaction, Acrobat 9 just wipes out the entirety of the context on the pages following the first page.

    • Rick Borstein says:

      Sure, but you’ll need Acrobat X. Select the redaction mark, right-click and choose “Repeat Mark across Pages”.

  10. JEP says:

    I created an Action Wizard to search & remove text, create a comment summary, and save the file with a new name. When I open the new file and select comments, it showed page #, date, author, and then somehow put the “found word” into comments. This was by accident but was exactly what we needed. I could not replicate for others, but it worked for me. I have somehow undone this. Do you know how to recreate?

    • Rick Borstein says:

      If you have your Acrobat Preferences>Comment section set to copy highlighted text into the note, that is what happens.

  11. Petra T says:

    I have a converted ppt file that I am trying to redact as a pdf in Adobe Acrobat Pro. Unfortunately, it isn’t working. Whatever section I am higlighting and redacting on the first page shows trough all the following pages in the pdf. Not sure if it has to do with the master in the original ppt file? Is there anything that i need to do in ppt before converting it into a pdf so I can redact information? Please help. Thank you!

    • Rick Borstein says:

      It sounds like you accidentally chose “Repeat Mark Across Pages”. Otherwise, I’d need to see a copy of the file to see what’s going on.

  12. Shirley says:

    Is it possible to create or print a Comment Summary that shows the overlay text (vetting code)? We are trying to produce a report and that is an essential element for us.

    • Rick Borstein says:

      Unfortunately, no. Although the Overlay Text Code is listed in the Comments panel, a new feature in Acrobat X.

  13. KTK says:

    I have Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro.
    1. Sometimes when I do search and redact for multiple words or phrases certain words that should be marked are not. Why does this happen?
    2. Is there any way to get a hard copy of a search and redact preliminary results (e.g., printing the contents of marked redacted words/phrases contained in the rectangular transparent outline) to review prior to applying the final permanent redaction marks?
    3. Will Acrobat X resolve any of the above questions?
    Thank you!

    • Rick Borstein says:

      Search and Redact (or even just Search in Acrobat) is reliant on the quality of the OCR for scanned documents. No OCR solution is 100%, so that is why you should carefully review any document that needs to be redacted. Acrobat does not provide a way to preview the words which are found in Search and Redact, but you can view and remove them from the Comments panel. Acrobat X does include some OCR improvements, so you might get better results with it.

  14. Randy H. says:

    Do you have any insight as to why file sizes sometimes “explode” after redaction?

    We are scanning a lot of multi-page color documents that start out as scanned image only pdf’s in the 10-50 megabyte range. Before running them through OCR, we redact name stickers that appear only on the front or back cover pages of the document. When we hit apply redaction, Acrobat asks us if we want to delete the metadata and hidden image content and we say yes. At that point the resulting file size increases to somewhere between 150% and 500% of it’s orginal size. And we haven’t even attempted the OCR yet. Why would redactng relatively small amount of image content (1×2 inches on one page) result in such a large file size increase?

    We’ve seen this same behavior in Acrobat 8.x, 9.x and X.

    Any light you might shed would be most appreciated.

    –Randy

    • Rick Borstein says:

      In order to remove information, Acrobat sometimes has to rasterize the file. I like to run a sequence to apply redactions then use the PDF Optimizer.

      • R.Gsell says:

        Can you give more details on PDF Optimizer? Is that something within the Adobe Suite or another program? Entering the term “PDF Optimizer” on google gives a big load of stuff – don’t know what to choose (and most of these programs aren’t for free).

        • Rick Borstein says:

          The PDF Optimizer is a feature of Adobe Acrobat Pro. In 8 and 9, it is under the Advanced Menu. It Acrobat X Pro, it is under Save as Optimized

  15. Jeannette Kramer says:

    After “applying redaction” I have duplicate redacting marks showing up on different pages. i.e. Redaction boxes from page 9 are showing up on page 7 along with page 7 redacted boxes. On page 7 it’s redacted boxes are completely blacked out but the duplicated boxes from page 9 on page 7 you can actually read through.
    Can you help me? please? :)

    • Rick Borstein says:

      That’s really weird and I don’t have any idea how that could have happened. A couple things to watch out for . . . make sure you didn’t accidentally use the “Repeat Mark Across Pages” option by right-clicking. You can delete the extra marked items either from the page itself or by using the Comments pane.

  16. George Clendenning says:

    I am attempting to assist some litigators with large scale redacting. Is there a way to export a document’s redaction notes (comments) into a text file that could then be used as the text file for multiple word search on another document later?

  17. Arella says:

    I need to know after I redact the information will I need to also sanitize the document in order to remove the metadata redacted information? Thank you.

    • Rick Borstein says:

      By default, Acrobat will run the Remove Hidden Information after applying redactions. If you want Sanitize instead, its easy to create an Action to Apply Redactions then Sanitize. Note that Sanitize may remove items you want to keep like Bookmarks, so think through your document workflow.

  18. When I use Internet Explorer, an Adobe Acrobat tool bar enables me to save the current webpage to a PDF file.

    Is it possible to add that Acrobat toolbar to Chrome, so that I would be able to save with pages 2 Acrobat media files? If the answer is “yes”, how can it be done?

    • Rick Borstein says:

      We don’t currently support Save as PDF for Chrome, but it is something we are looking at. Chrome itself offers a very basic Save as PDF functionality. I’ve had issues with it, but it is better than nothing.

  19. Patchen Dellinger says:

    Thank you. That is very helpful. It looks as if all the redaction tools are rectangles. Is there any way to redact a more complex shape, especially one with curves or angles at less than 90 degrees?

    • Rick Borstein says:

      Redactions are always rectangular. You can (admittedly with some difficulty) overlap redactions, so you do other shapes.

  20. Karen says:

    I redact very large reports and would like to know is there a way to highlight all my hits at one time, when I search the document by name and/or account number?? ie: say I am looking for a name “Jane Doe” or her account numbers that I need and all other names/acct numbers are going to be redacted. Once I highlight the names/acct numbers then I go to each page and redact.

    I do like the idea, with this new version, that I don’t have to tiff the document anymore and reprint to pdf.

    Thanks!

    • Rick Borstein says:

      Yes, you can use the Search and Remove text option. This allows you to input a list of Words and Acrobat Pro will place redaction marks on all the words found.

  21. Emily says:

    Hi Rick, I mistakenly selected ‘no’ and checked the ‘always’ box in the examine document step. How do I restore this setting so that I can use this feature again?

  22. Musi Ala says:

    That’s wonderful information. Just a quick question for you, can you save redacted file on the original file instead of saving it with a different name?

    • Rick Borstein says:

      Yes, you can overwrite the original file if you turn off the preference. I don’t recommend this workflow!

  23. Clarissa says:

    Great article. Just two questions:
    1). Can you set the redactions to rotate with the document?
    2). Sometimes you get a bar, sometimes you get the tool to create bars. Is there a way to choose one or the other? I’ve noticed that when I use the tool, it sometimes clips off the edges of my redactions and when I go back to re-do them, I get a bar.

    • Rick Borstein says:

      Answers: 1) No, sorry. 2) To force an area redaction rather than text redaction, hold down the CTRL key (Win) or CMD key (Mac) while using the Mark for Redaction tool.

  24. JD says:

    Awesome article. One question: When the window came up saying that the Redactions have been applied, would you like to examine the document…., I accidently clicked on “Always Perform the selected actions” box. How can I get it to not always perform this action?

    • Rick Borstein says:

      Choose Edit>Preferences and go to the General section and click the “Reset all warnings” button.

  25. Deanna Dumas says:

    Hi, Rick.
    Great article! I have a PDF that is 180 pages and there are 4,337 items marked for redaction. The PDF is 5.4KB. When I click Apply Redaction, the PDF freezes at about 75% complete in the Redaction progress bar at the bottom of the screen. I have tried saving the PDF as a new PDF, saving it as a reduced file size PDF, saving it as an optimzed PDF, and splitting it into two PDF files. None of those actions fix the freezing issue. I had to split the PDF into many small files, redact, and then re-combine into a single file. Have you see any similar issues? Is there a limit on the number of items that can be redacted? Thanks for your help! Deanna

    • Rick Borstein says:

      You didn’t say what version of Acrobat you are using, so it is hard to say. You might run Preflight to see if there is something amiss with your PDF. You might also do a SAVE AS and then print the document to the AdobePDF print driver. My guess is that the document is corrupted. Also, that is a lot of redactions, so you might try breaking up the document into sections or applying them a few at a time.

  26. Patrick Griffin says:

    An excellent guide. However is it completely secure. I can find nothing to confirm absolutely that any text or detail redacted using Acrobat X can not be un-redacted electronically after I have saved the document. Grateful for a response.

  27. Christine says:

    Can you tell me if there is a way to change the text position when using the overlay option. I’d like the text to turn 90 degrees. Thanks

  28. Amy says:

    Hi Rick,
    I have somehow frozen myself out of being able to add new codes under redaction properties – i’m also frozen from applying custom text. The whole window appears inaccessible to me. ??! HEEEEELLLLPPPPPP….?
    Thanks!
    Amy

  29. Joanne says:

    Hi Rick,
    I like the article. Book marked for reference :) I’m hoping you can help me figure out an issue. I created a redaction action wizard in Pro X to change the name of the month for client reports. I use a new copy of a master file each month. The problem is that when I redact on a color background (using the matching color overlay) I get a fine thin white line that goes only across the top and right side of where the redaction box was. Nothing across the bottom or left side – perfect color match. The original files were created in Illustrator CS5.

    Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

    • Rick Borstein says:

      I’ve seen that. When redacting vector objects, the underlying image will be rasterized and you will see artifacts. I don’t know a workaround, sorry.

  30. Shawn says:

    Rick, excellent information. Is it ok for me to use some of your information in my training class, specifically the redaction workflow you have?

  31. Charis says:

    I’m having a problem trying to reply to several comments as we review redactions. For some reason everytime I try to type a capital “A”, either at the beginning of a word or as part of an acronym, it blows my whole comment away so that all that shows is a blank reply, which I cannot edit. I then have to delete that and try it again and this time try to figure out how to say what I want to say without using a capital “A”. Any ideas? I’m using Acrobat Pro X.

    • Rick Borstein says:

      Weird. I resolved this by going to Preferences and in the General category turning off Single Key Accelerators.

  32. Adam says:

    Rick, very informative blog, thanks. Question: In Acrobat Pro XI, in redacting a document it gets a bit “fuzzy” when redactions are implemented. Did the same thing in X. Any way to get rid of this? Thanks, Adam Porter

    • Rick Borstein says:

      The fuzziness you are seeing is the rasterization of the file. Acrobat turns the vector data to pixels for security reasons when items cannot be redacted safely without doing so.

  33. Barbara Coffey says:

    For Redaction Preferences, you say that in your Acrobat X Redact blog that “12. Set the outline color for the Redaction Mark. Note: This only affects the appearance of the marked item, not the final appearance once redacted.
    How do I set redaction preferences for that referenced “final appearance once redacted”? I am trying to set preferences for a white-fill, black-outlined box which allows for red overlay text in final viewing form. Thanks for any assistance! Barb

    • Rick Borstein says:

      That is the Redaction Fill. Applied Redactions only have a fill, not a stroke, so you can’t accomplish what you are trying to do.

  34. Jim Russo says:

    Rick, I have the same problem that Jeannette Kramer reported on January 25, 2012 in your Blog.
    In Acrobat X, only on a few documents, (1 out of a hundred) when I apply redactions, multiple redactions show up throughout the entire document. I have found something in common, all documents that have this problem show PScript5.dll Version 5.2.2 as the Application in the properties window. Any idea what could be causing this? I could send you a sample file if you like.

  35. John Pummell says:

    Can Adobe Pro redact hand-written text? We have a document several thousand pages long with social security numbers in it and want to redact the ssns. Can you help? Thanks.

    • Rick Borstein says:

      Acrobat doesn’t support OCR of handwriten text, so you would need to manually redact each occurence.

  36. Karen Miller says:

    I am using Adobe Pro X — it is very inconsistent — there seems to be something missing (maybe) that I need in order for it to work properly. #1 question: Do I need Adobe Flash Player to make this work properly?
    I have tried for 3 days now to redact a 500 page document and it keeps hanging up saying something about “stop interaction with windows”
    Thank you.

    • Rick Borstein says:

      Most likely, you have a corrupt document. Make sure you aren’t working on a network drive, always work locally. Break up the doc into smaller pieces.

  37. Debra Watson says:

    I am an Access & Privacy Advisor, Freedom of Information & Protection of Privacy Act, with Alberta Environment & Sustainable Resource Development, Alberta, Canada and use Acrobat extensively to redact information. I am using Adobe Acrobat XI. Is there any way to set the Use Overlay Text checkbox and/or the Redaction Code radio button to be the default Redaction Property? As I recall User Overlay Text was the default with previous versions of Acrobat. Thanks.

    • Rick Borstein says:

      That isn’t the default, but you can right-click on the Redaction annotation and set it as you need.

  38. Mitch Hall says:

    The ‘Edit’ command button is disabled on the Manage Actions dialog. I am running a trial version of Adobe Acrobat XI Pro. How do you enable the ‘Edit’ command button?

    Best Regards
    Mitch Hall

    • Rick Borstein says:

      You cannot edit the Actions that ship with the program. You will have to create a new Action which you can then edit.