How to Redact a PDF

You’ve seen the headlines and articles about Paul Manafort’s lawyers not properly redacting a court filing; how do you make sure this doesn’t happen to you?

First, use Adobe Acrobat Pro. While there are a few other redaction tools out there, Acrobat Pro is the easiest to use and has extensive how-to guides. If you don’t have access to the full Acrobat Pro at work, consider using the free 7-day trial or pay for a monthly subscription for $14.99.

Second, follow these easy steps to redact the document.

Step 1: Open the document you want to redact, then from the Tools menu, under Protect & Standardize, select Redact.

Step 2: Under Mark for Redaction, you’ll see an option to select Text & Images, Pages, or use the search function to find the text you need to redact.

Step 3: Select Text & Images; you’ll see a red box appear – use your cursor to select the text you want to redact, then select Apply.

Step 4: You’ll see a warning that the redaction is permanent and cannot be undone. Select OK.

Step 5: The next box asks if you’d like to find and remove hidden information in your document. Select Yes. You will then be asked which elements you’d like to remove, such as metadata, links, and overlapping objects.

There is an additional option to Sanitize Document. In addition to metadata, the Sanitize Document feature removes obscured text and images, comments hidden within the body of the PDF file, and more. If you select this option, you won’t have the ability to pick and choose what hidden data and metadata is removed from the document. If you want more control over what is removed and what is not, use the Remove Hidden Information option instead.  

The original version of this post appeared on the Boley Law Library blog.

Assistant Director, Research and Instruction, at Boley Law Library, Lewis and Clark Law School, in Portland, Oregon.

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