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Redaction is the process of permanently removing visible text and graphics from a document. You use the Redact tools to remove content. In place of the removed items, you can have redaction marks that appear as colored boxes, or you can leave the area blank. You can specify custom text or redaction codes to appear over the redaction marks. Optional To set the appearance of redaction marks, click the drop-down in the Redact toolset in the secondary toolbar, and choose Properties.
See Change the look of redaction markers. Note: To preview how your redaction marks appear, hold the pointer over the marked area. To apply multiple code entries to a single redaction, right-click a redaction mark and select an option. For more information, see Apply multiple code entries to a redaction. This feature is convenient if a particular header, footer, or watermark appears in the same location on many pages.
When you have finished marking the items you want to redact, click Apply in the secondary toolbar to remove the items. The Save As dialog is displayed. Specify a filename and location. Use the Find Text tool to find and remove words or phrases in one or more PDFs that contain searchable text. If you selected occurrences that you want to mark for redaction, click Mark Checked Results For Redaction. The redaction marks become permanent after you save the file.
When you remove items, additional items are automatically removed from the document. Items that are removed include digital signatures, document information added by third-party plug-ins and applications, and special features that enable Adobe Reader users to review, sign, and fill PDF documents. Note: To examine every PDF for hidden content before you close it or send it in email, specify that option in the Documents preferences using the Preferences dialog box.
Click Sanitize Document. In the Sanitize Document dialog, to remove hidden information, click Click Here. If items are found, they are listed in the Remove Hidden Information panel with a selected check box beside each item. Click Remove to delete selected items from the file, and click OK. The selected content is permanently removed when you save the file. If you close the file without saving it, repeat this process, making sure to save the file. Files of any format can be attached to the PDF as an attachment.
Bookmarks are links with representational text that open specific pages in the PDF. This item includes all comments that were added to the PDF using the comment and markup tool, including files attached as comments. This item includes Form Fields including Signature fields , and all Actions and calculations associated with form fields. If you remove this item, all form fields are flattened and can no longer be filled out, edited, or signed. This item indicates text in the PDF that is either transparent, covered up by other content, or the same color as the background.
PDFs can contain multiple layers that can be shown or hidden. Removing hidden layers removes these layers from the PDF and flattens remaining layers into a single layer. An embedded search index speeds up searches in the PDF file. Removing indexes decreases file size but increases search time for the PDF.
The objects can be images composed of pixels , vector graphics composed of paths , gradients, or patterns. Sanitize documents removes all sensitive information, hidden or not, from your document so that the information is not passed along when you publish your PDF. The Sanitize Document dialog box is displayed. Click OK. Specify a filename and locaton. If you don't want to overwrite the original file, save the file with a different name, at a different location, or both.
Click Save to save the document and automatically finish the sanitization process. The sensitive information is permanently removed when you save the file. From the Categories on the left, select Documents. Then click OK. By default, thin red outlines appear around images and text you mark for redaction, and black boxes appear in place of redacted images and text. You can set the default appearance of redaction marks before you mark items for redaction. You can also change the look of redaction marks before you apply the redactions.
Click the drop-down, and choose Properties. The Redaction Tool Properties dialog box is displayed. On the Appearance tab, select options you want to change, and then click OK :. Custom Text. Displays text you type into the Custom Text option over the redaction mark.
Font Size. Resizes custom text to fit within the redacted area. When selected, this option overrides the Font Size setting for the overlay text. Font Color. Displays custom text in the selected color, which you can change by clicking the color swatch.
Repeat Overlay Text. Fills the redacted area with as many instances of the custom text as needed, without changing the font size. For example, if you specify the letter x or a hyphen - as the custom text, these characters are repeated throughout the redacted area. Text Alignment. Acrobat uses overlay text to overprint areas selected for redaction. One example of overlay text is a redaction code, which consists of one or more code entries from a code set.
Acrobat includes the U. FOIA and U. Privacy Act code sets that you can use. You can use either codes or custom text to create overlay text. The difference is that redaction codes are text entries that you can save, export, and import.
One code set can contain multiple codes. Codes only make the overlay text itself reusable in future sessions and by other users with whom you share code sets. You set other attributes for the code in the Redaction Tool Properties dialog box.
Optional Type a new name for the set in the text field below the list of code sets, and then click Rename Set. Click Add Code , and type the text that you want to appear as overlay text in the text field below the list of code entries, and then click Rename Code. Select a code set from the list on the left, and click Edit Codes.
In the Redaction Code Editor dialog box, do any of the following:. With the Code Set selected, select the code entry that you want to edit, and do one of the following:. Select a Code Set from the list at the bottom of the context menu, and then select a code entry from the drop-down menu. A check mark appears next to the code entry when the code is applied. Hold your pointer over the redaction mark to see the code entries, each one separated by a comma.
Note: To apply the same code to multiple redactions, set the redaction properties before you mark the content. In the secondary toolbar, click Properties. Removing sensitive content from PDFs Search. Adobe Acrobat User Guide. Select an article: Select an article:.
On this page Why redact or remove sensitive content? Why redact or remove sensitive content? Redact sensitive content Acrobat Pro. Text marked for redaction left , and redacted right. Select the text or image in a PDF, right-click, and select Redact. Select the text or image in a PDF, choose Redact in the floating context-menu.
Redact from the Edit menu.
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Member News. So, your organization is redacting sensitive information, like social security numbers, out of documents prior to making them available to the public. One of the common practices used to be adding a black box over the targeted content using Word.
The resulting PDF looks perfectly redacted - after all, the content is blacked out. This happens more often than you would think. I was on a call with a company that had done just that. They had thousands of incorrectly redacted documents and were looking for an automated solution to perform real redactions on those documents. So, what is redaction? In PDF, redaction is the act of removing content directly from the content stream of the page.
An optional piece of content is usually added in place of the removed content to indicate something has changed. This is traditionally a black box, however, it does not have to be a box, and the color does not have to be black. The important and mandatory part of redaction is that the content is permanently removed from the document. As you can see, if those steps are not followed properly, many things can go wrong, and you might end up distributing documents that still contain sensitive information.
The most common example of incorrectly redacted documents is the one that I started the article with. What if we decide to manually select and delete the content, and then manually add a black box over it?
Aside from this being a laborious process, there are some major downsides to it. A lot of tools keep versions of a document without us ever realizing that. Those versions will contain previously deleted content. Metadata can also contain previously deleted content, or references to it. Properly redacting a document will take care of all of those issues. Another common mistake while attempting to redact a document is to change the font color of sensitive information to simply match the background.
This is perhaps the least secure of all the incorrect redaction methods available. Furthermore, this text can be searched for, and changing the font color back to a visible one is easy. You want to use a tool that is designed for proper redaction. But, what if we use a tool that claims to redact a document, but does a poor job? How do you know?
The screenshot above is from a document redacted with a popular PDF tool. The tool not only redacted the desired information, but also text on one line above and below each redaction. See image below. What tools and methods can we use to redact PDF documents properly? Adobe Acrobat is the industry leader when it comes to end user PDF tools. It has a very comprehensive set of redaction tools. Plus, there are great resources available that explain the redaction process in detail.
While Acrobat is great for redacting single documents, what happens when you want to redact batches of documents? Both can offer batch redaction functionality as well as an automated, but on the fly, document by document process. Redaction is a very important tool in the document market. If performed incorrectly, sensitive information can leak to the public, potentially leading to lawsuits, scandals, etc.
To avoid that, you need to make sure your documents are redacted correctly, you have the right processes in place, and are using the right tools.
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Redaction is typically a 2 step process, with an optional 3rd step The content to be redacted is identified and redaction annotations are placed over it The redaction annotations are reviewed and applied, permanently removing the content An additional step is to sanitize the document, cleaning up sneaky data like metadata, bookmarks, links, and anything that could have content in it that you do not want available As you can see, if those steps are not followed properly, many things can go wrong, and you might end up distributing documents that still contain sensitive information.
There can be bookmarks and links. Previous versions of documents can contain information we thought is redacted, making it readily available.
Search indexes and review comments are also good hiding spots for sensitive data. A good PDF redaction tool will clean up all those, and more, during sanitization. Use a tool that has a clean redaction.
Some tools can redact just fine, but they are what I call too 'loose'. Instead of just redacting the social security number for example, you also lose nearby content that could be above, below, left, and right of what you were targeting. See image below for an example of what I mean. Redaction is commonly used with text. However, redaction can apply to different types of content — diagrams for example. While you are trying to partially redact sensitive information out of a diagram, the tool you are using might not be able to do that and redact the whole image instead.
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