Redaction Tips and Techniques for Acrobat 9

Redaction is the permanent deletion of privileged or sensitive information from documents. Acrobat 8 Pro introduced a comprehensive set of Redaction tools to the product. Acrobat 9 added additional tools and capabilities.

Acrobat 9 Redaction Toolbar

In this article, I’ll discuss three tips and techniques for working with redactions in Acrobat 9 Pro:

Want to know how Redaction works in Acrobat?

Watch a brief Redaction tutorial on my Legal Movie Page.

Watch a one-hour Redaction and Metadata Removal eSeminar

Note: I’ve since published a more comprehensive article Rick’s Semi-definitive Guide to Redaction in Acrobat 9.

Read on . . .

Automatically Rename Redacted Files

When Acrobat applies redactions, the text, image or data is permanently removed and cannot be recovered. For this reason, Acrobat will give you a stern warning when you apply redactions:

Redaction warning dialog in Acrobat 9

The operative message above is that when you apply redactions you will be prompted to rename your document the next time you save your document.

Let’s say you ignore this warning and try to save over your original document. You’ll receive another warning similar to the one below:

Replace file warning in Acrobat 9

If you ignore this warning, you can save over your original file.

To protect against accidentally saving over a file, you can set a preference to automatically rename redacted documents.

Here’s how:

  1. Choose Edit—> Preferences (Windows) or Acrobat—> Preferences (Mac)
  2. Select the Documents category from the list on the left:
  3. Selecting the Documents category preference in Acrobat 9
  4. At the bottom of the window, enable the check box labeled “Adjust filename when saving applied redaction marks”
  5. Choosing Adjust File Names when saving Redaction Marks in Acrobat 9
  6. Click OK

The next time you apply redaction marks and save your document, Acrobat will automatically include the _Redacted suffix in the Save dialog:

The _redacted suffix is automatically added by in Acrobat 9

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 9

To create a summarized document:

  1. Open the document containing your redaction marks.
    (You need to run this step before you apply redactions.)
  2. Choose Comments—> Summarize Comments
  3. The Summarize Options window will appear. I suggest choosing the second option:
  4. Options in the Summary Options window in Acrobat 9
  5. Click the Create PDF Comment Summary button.

Setting a Preference to automatically copy selected text into the Redaction Comment

One of the best aspects of how redaction works in Acrobat is that each redaction mark is a standard Acrobat comment. When you double-click on a redaction mark, a sticky note will pop into which you can add your own text:

Using sticky notes along with Redaction in Acrobat 9

In the sticky note you might add some information about why you are redacting the information, or even include the text that is to be redacted. Later, when the other side disputes privilege, you can refer to these notes.

Sometimes, it is simply helpful to copy the text you are going to redact into the note itself. That way, you’ll know what you redacted when you summarize the document (the last tip!).

Here’s how:

  1. Choose Edit—> Preferences (Windows) or Acrobat—> Preferences (Mac)
  2. Select the Commenting category from the list on the left:
  3. Choosing the Comments cateogry preference in in Acrobat 9
  4. Enable the check box labeled “Copy Selected Text into Highlight, Crossout, and Underline comment pop-ups
  5. Click OK

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

Text is copied into the sticky note automatically!