How to Redact a PDF

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Redacted documents -- papers that have swaths of their text blacked out due to governmental, privacy or proprietary reasons -- may pique interest due to viewers wondering just exactly what they're unable to read. Performing the redactions, though, is not as insidious a task; in fact, most redaction can be done with computer software you may already have installed. When redacting a PDF, a portable document format file that requires specialty editing software to access it, you can circumvent that proprietary software and perform the redactions as a workaround, though your end result will be just as masking as the real thing.

Things You'll Need

  • Microsoft Word
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Microsoft Publisher

Using Word

  1. Open Word. Click the "Insert" tab. Click the "Object" menu on the ribbon. Click "Object" again and select the "Create from File" tab. Browse to the PDF to redact, click the "Insert" button and click "OK" to add the PDF to the Word document.

  2. Click the "Shapes" button on the ribbon. Choose the rectangle shape. When the cursor turns into a plus sign, draw a small rectangle over the words/sentences to redact.

  3. Click the border of the rectangle to open the orange "Drawing Tools" tab. Click the "Shape Fill" button and click the black square. The line is now redacted. Repeat to add additional rectangles as required.

Using Photoshop

  1. Open Adobe Photoshop. Click the "File" menu. Click "Open." Browse to the PDF you want to redact. Double-click the file name. Click "OK" at the "Import PDF" window.

  2. Click the "Rectangle Tool" at the bottom of the "Tools" pane. If you do not see the rectangle icon, right-click a line, star or circle shape. Click "Rectangle Tool" from the menu that pops up.

  3. Click into the "Color" box on the new toolbar at the top of the screen. Click black and click "OK."

  4. Position the cursor on the PDF. Click, hold down the left mouse button and drag to form the rectangle. Drag the rectangle into place over the words to redact. Repeat to add additional rectangles.

Using Publisher

  1. Open Publisher. Click the "Blank 8.5 x 11" button under "Available Templates." Click the "Insert" tab. Click the "Object" button on the ribbon. Click the "Create from File" radio button. Locate the PDF and double-click it.

  2. Click the "Shapes" button on the ribbon. Choose the rectangle shape. When the cursor turns into a plus sign, draw a small rectangle over the words/sentences to redact.

  3. Click the border of the rectangle to open the orange "Drawing Tools" tab. Click the "Shape Fill" button and click the black square. The line is now redacted. Repeat to add additional rectangles as required.

Tips & Warnings

  • Another way to redact a PDF is to use the Adobe Acrobat software. Acrobat is a standalone software sold specifically for editing PDFs. To redact in Acrobat, use the shading option and turn it to 100 percent black, then make a rectangle over any of the words you want to redact, similar to how you would in these programs.

References

Comments

  • Photo Credit Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images News/Getty Images

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