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:

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:

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
  3. Selecting a redaction mark
  4. You’ll see some subtle animation around the edges.
  5. 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?

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:

. . . 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
  7. 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:

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:
  6. F‌ind pattern-based information
  7. Click the **Search and Redact **button
  8. 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:

To view the Comment List:

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:
  5. Options in the Summary Options window in Acrobat 9
  6. Click the Create PDF Comment Summary button.
  7. 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:

Download the PDF with Instructions

Redaction_Action.pdf (674K)**Hint:**Right-click and Choose Save Target As . . . to save to your desktopYou will need Acrobat X Pro to run the Action.PDF includes:- Installation information - Embedded Action - Instructions on how to use the Action - Customizing information


http://blogs.adobe.com/acrolaw/files/2010/12/Redaction_Action1.pdf

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:
  1. 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.
  2. Carefully review all documents prior to submission in discovery. A two-person review team will catch many more errors than a single person.
  3. Know your court rules and judges orders regarding redaction. Ask the clerk of the court for clarification if you need more information.
  4. 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.