How to redact a PDF document

redact pdfRedaction of documents in a litigation environment is crucial.   Whether it is protecting personally identifiable information (PII) such as Social Security numbers or birthdates, it is often necessary to sanitize PDF documents of data which parties do not wish to be released or risk public disclosure.   Portable Document Format (PDF) is the most widely used standard format that – in my experience – is commonly exchanged between parties.  For the most part, gone are the days when you use a black marker on printed documents to perform redactions.   In today’s technically-savvy world, electronic documents are the “discovery” or legal documents.   To ensure redactions are done properly for PDF documents, Adobe Acrobat makes it very easy for the user.

There are two methods that you can use to properly redact a PDF file using Adobe Acrobat:

#1 – USE THE REDAX TOOL (if available)

  • Open the document in Adobe Acrobat
  • Click on REDAX
  • Select DRAW BOX
  • Draw boxes around all the information you want to redact
  • Click on REDAX
  • A new PDF document will be saved with an “r_” prefix.
  • Save the redacted PDF document.


  • Open the document in Adobe Acrobat
  • Click on TOOLS
  • Select all the information you want to redact
  • Click YES at the warning box.  Note that it states that “Once document is saved, this operation cannot be undone.”
  • If you want to remove ALL metadata from the entire document click YES
  • Save the PDF file.  It will be saved with “_redacted” in the suffix of the filename.

When you SAVE the redacted PDF document, it is secured.   There is no need for additional security.

If you want to check the redacted file:

  1. Open the redacted PDF document
  2. Search for the text that was redacted by clicking on EDIT > FIND > Enter your search term
  3. If the document is properly redacted, you should not be able to find the search terms in the redacted areas.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: