What is PDF Redaction, why it’s important, and how to do it?

What is PDF Redaction, why it’s important, and how to do it?

What is PDF Redaction?

PDF Redaction is the process of editing a document to remove and protect sensitive data. PDF redaction occurs when information is removed from the record before publication or distribution.

There are many instances when documents need to be shared with third parties, or released to the media but it has personal and sensitive information that needs to be removed. That’s when redaction comes to play. Redaction allows for the permanent removal of confidential information before the distribution of documents. The most common example of redaction in forms is a black rectangle shown covering part or, in some instances, all of the text.

Why is Redaction Important?

Redaction is essential to protect and remove personal and sensitive information before distribution. It is used by the government, law enforcement, large and small businesses, and even individuals to protect certain pieces of information. The information removed from view could be names, addresses, social security numbers, birthdates, trade secrets, classified national secrets, and others.

Depending on the type of business, redaction could be required by state, federal, or international legislation. For example, the CCPA or Californian Consumer Protection Act applies to anyone doing business with residents in California. So, even if you are in Maine or Mexico, you must comply with this legislation to do business with California residents.

The General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR is comprehensive privacy legislation that works similarly. If you want to do business with any European Union residents, you must comply regardless of where your company is located. So, if you have a company in Brazil and want to localize sales in the EU, you need to understand all requirements of the GDPR. If a business is found to have violated these rules, they could face court trials, fines, and penalties. They can be banned from continuing to sell their goods and services in the region.

The combination of legal fees, fines, penalties, and loss of consumer trust can be fatal, even for large corporations. It can push small businesses into bankruptcy. The cost of failing to comply with privacy rules and regulations has become so high that the number one concern for nearly every type of business and government agencies is cybersecurity.

Before computer systems, the process of redaction included many items and methods, including black markers, scissors, grease pencils, and photocopiers. Once technology allowed for the sharing of documents by electronic means, the ability to redact was a necessary feature that many businesses demanded.

How to Redact a PDF

There are many ways to redact PDF, the most common is to use Adobe Acrobat Pro, Adobe has the tools that will allow the user to successfully redact details from a PDF quickly and accurately. To redact a PDF using Acrobat you should go through the following steps:

  1. Open your document in Acrobat.
  2. Choose TOOLS, then REDACT.
  3. In the open dialogue box, click the EDIT button. You will find the option REDACT TEXT & IMAGES.
  4. Using your mouse, right-click on any text or image.
  5. Choose REDACT on the provided menu.

This is relatively easy when it comes to redacting one, two, or even ten files. However, in many cases when you have a large number of PDF files with a lot of content that needs to be redacted, you will need to use one of the redaction specialized software in the market that uses machine learning to automatically redact all sensitive information without having to spend hundreds of hours of work to do it manually.

Software specialized in redaction like CaseGuard has a lot of tools that can help ease the workload in your process. It also handles automatic translations, transcriptions, reports, and so much more. For most businesses, the time saved in handling thousands of redactions in bulk not only saves money but provides better data security.

Advanced machine learning new algorithms can automatically redact any type of file from any type of industry. It can handle banking records, personnel and HR files, police records, patient records, FOIA requests, and educational records. Any type of data can be searched for and redacted.
Redact a PDF using redaction software like CaseGuard can be done using one of three different methods:

Manual Redaction

This is as simple as DRAG and DROP to draw a rectangle on top of the sensitive data that you want to be redacted.

CaseGuard PDF manual

Page Redaction

Decide the number of pages you would like to redact. If you are looking to redact all pages in your document then choose the REDACT ALL.

CaseGuard page redaction

Automatic Redaction

This is as simple as the FIND and REDACT. You can simply choose to redact names, addresses, phone numbers, SSN, click FIND then REDACT. The software will scan your files then automatically redact whatever you tell it to redact.


Anytime that you are faced with thousands of files to redact, the option to handle bulk redactions automatically through AI software like CaseGuard is your best option.

Watch for Errors

As we mentioned above, not redacting your data can be costly to businesses and governments. It is a good idea to ensure that everyone in the office understands the importance of redaction and how to redact documents properly. Many known cases have embarrassed companies when it is found that they did not redact properly.

Highlighting a word in a black box is not the same as redaction. For example, let’s see what could happen if someone did not know how to redact a document properly.

The following sentence’s data has been removed by highlighting the details and covering it with a black box.

Health Record – Patient: David Mcbrayer Date of Birth: 03/15/54.

If you highlight the boxes with your mouse, you can still see the data. The file could be opened and the black boxes easily removed, and the data is revealed. The mistake could release customers’ or patients’ personal data, putting them in jeopardy of identity theft or fraud. Privacy laws are in place to protect individuals and businesses from being put into that nefarious situation. No company wants to cause harm to their clients or lose business due to loss of reputation. If customers believe their data is not safe, they will no longer disclose it to that business.


Redaction will be a necessary part of the business environment for many years to come. People across the globe are clamoring for more privacy protections. Companies can expect that the number of rules and regulations about privacy will continue to grow. To stay ahead, have a privacy expert come and consult with your organization. They can help you track data from the time it enters the company until it is destroyed. This knowledge or pipeline will help you devise better ways to protect information. A privacy expert can also help you choose the right type of redaction software for your needs and be sure that your employees are adequately trained.