People in different fields and job roles need to be concerned about removing private information from confidential documents. Censoring this type of information properly is key, both for entrepreneurs who need to protect financial, personal or commercial information, and for government agencies that must protect political information. The following basic steps, based on expert advice, could be helpful for those who need to redact the information in a document in the correct way.
Method 1 of 4: redact information in a text file
Step 1. Replace all the text you want to censor with the word [REDACTED]
Start by replacing all the text you want to censor with the word [REDACTED]. You can use the search and replace function to locate all the words that you need to remove. This way you will make sure to censor everything necessary in the document, in such a way that it is hidden.
- For example, you can replace any of the client's personal information: "Amy Hempel, Avenida del Parque N ° 1031", with the phrase "[INFORMATION REDACTED]" or simply with the word "[REDACTED]".
- Also, you could put black squares or rectangles over the information you want to censor. You can create these shapes by drawing long squares over the areas of the text to be redacted and then painting them solid black. Make sure to erase the text under the black squares to ensure that the information is not exposed if the shapes are somehow removed.
- Make sure to do the same in all cases and in all variations of the information. If you use someone's name in different ways throughout the document, you may have to do it manually. For example, you could have mentioned "Amy Hempel" as "A. Hempel "," Amy Hempel "and" Mrs. Hempel”. Then, you will have to censor all variations of his name. You can use the search and replace function for each variation of its name or you can check the document and manually replace them with the word [REDACTED].
- Save this version of the document as a "censored version." This will ensure that you have two copies of the document, one with the original information and one with the censored information.
Step 2. Copy and paste the text into Windows Notepad
This is a simple word processor that does not record hidden code found in text files. This format only records the basic information of the text, so no other information can be retrieved from the document. This is critical, as you don't want someone to crawl the original code in the text file and thus discover the censored information.
- Select all the text in the file (CTRL + E or Edit> Select all)
- Copy the text from the file. (CTRL + C or Edit> Copy)
- Paste the text into Notepad. (CTRL + V or Edit> Paste)
- Save the Notepad file as a "censored version". It will be saved as a text file (.txt).
- If you don't have Windows Notepad, you can use programs like WordPerfect, WordStar, and TextEditor.
Step 3. Modify the document format
Once you paste the information from the text file into Notepad, most of the document formatting will be removed. The document will not have number of pages, tabs, justifications, paragraph numbering or bold, italics or underlined. Before burning it as a file with censored information, you can format it again.
To modify the document, you must close the Notepad file and open the document "censored version" in your word processor. Change the format there, but don't modify any of the text
Step 4. Save the edited document in PDF format
To create the final version of the censored document, once you format it, save it as a “final censored version”. This will ensure that it does not contain any confidential or discoverable information.
- To convert the text file to PDF, choose that format from the list of file saving options. Select PDF and save the file as "PDF censored final version."
- Delete the files "censored version" and "version with censored text", so it will not be possible to document the trace of the information that you have censored. Now you can use the file "PDF censored final version" as the censored version.
Method 2 of 4: Censor a Document in PDF Format
Step 1. Use Adobe Acrobat versions 8.0 and later
Only as of Acrobat version 8.0 can you reliably censor the information in a PDF document. Although you can try to use other programs to censor the information, they will not be able to remove it effectively and are not recommended.
- Adobe Acrobat Pro has a censorship tool, Adobe Acrobat Reader does not.
- You can try a plugin made for the other Adobe Acrobat versions, like Redux. These add-on programs can be used to censor information in a PDF file when using other versions of Adobe Acrobat.
- If you have access to the document as a text file, you can go through the process to censor information in text files and then use the final censored PDF version. However, if you only have access to the PDF file and you have to censor certain information in the document, you will have to try the following method.
Step 2. Open the Censor toolbar
To do this, go to View> Tools> Censor. You will then be able to choose the "Flag for censorship" tool from the toolbar. Use it to flag all the information you want to censor.
- To censor a line or an object in the document, double-click on the word or on the image. Press CTRL as you drag to select a line, text block, image, or area of the document.
- Click OK to delete the selected objects. Note that objects will not be permanently removed from the document until you save it.
Step 3. Remove any hidden text
Once you apply the censorship, the function "Browse document" will appear. You can use this feature to search for any hidden text or metadata and remove it.
- Hidden text can appear as the original text or a version of the original text. The metadata can look like encoded text, in which there are numbers or symbols within the original text.
- In the PDF document, repeat this process until you have removed all the necessary content. Also make sure to remove any hidden text or metadata.
Step 4. Rename the document and save it
Once you have removed all the confidential information, as well as the hidden text, you must change the name of the document to "final censored version" and save it. You will then have a censored version of the document and an uncensored one.
Once you save the document with the censored information, you will need to delete the uncensored version. At that moment you will have a document with the censored information, in PDF, that will not contain hidden text or metadata. This way, you can be sure that no one has access to the original version, incessantly, of the document
Method 3 of 4: redact information in a printed document
Step 1. Use the printed document method to redact the information in a scanned file
It is difficult to use a program to censor information in a document scanned in TIFF, JPEG, or-g.webp" />
Step 2. Print the document
To start, print your document on one side. This way you can make sure you have text on one side of the page and a blank page on the other. There will be no risk of cutting out important information, or forgetting to delete confidential information on one side.
Keep in mind that if the document to be redacted has many pages, this method could be very time consuming. However, it is considered the most effective way to redact information in a document, be it a text file, a PDF file, or a scanned document
Step 3. Cut the text to be censored
Use scissors to cut out all the text that you need to censor. Make sure you find every mention of confidential information on the printed document and cut it out.
You will then need to destroy the paper clippings to make sure that no one can trace or find the information
Step 4. Use opaque tape or paper to cover the blacked out sections
Light does not pass through the opaque tape; Furthermore, it is not transparent or translucent. This is the best option for filling in the censored sections so that they cannot be tracked or discovered.
Also, you can use opaque paper that does not allow any light reflection; not plain paper, as a scanner could detect images through the paper. Use tape or glue to stick the paper over the blacked out sections
Step 5. Scan the document and save it in PDF format
To create a refined version of the document, you can scan it and save it under the name “PDF censored final version”. Then you will have a completely censored version of the printed document.
Method 4 of 4: Check for censorship
Step 1. Make sure you have removed all confidential information from the document
You could review the document to verify that it does not contain confidential information. Confidential information could include:
- Social security numbers. If you must include someone's social security number, use only the last four digits.
- Any number of financial accounts. If you must include financial account numbers, use only the last four digits.
- Names of minors. If you have to mention the minors involved, use only their initials.
- Dates of birth. If you must include someone's date of birth, just enter the year.
- Domiciles. If you must include someone's address, such as in a criminal case, use only the city and state.
Step 2. Have someone check the censorship before finalizing the document
To be sure that you detected all the information that had to be censored, you could ask a trusted person to verify that you did not miss any information. Sometimes another pair of eyes can help catch any information that has been passed on. Let the reviewer know what method you used to censor the information so they can properly evaluate it.
If you have to deal with highly confidential information that could have legal implications, you may want to consider using an expert censor. These people are trained to censor information and may review the document for you to ensure that it does not contain errors or flaws
Step 3. Evaluate the redacted text to make sure the information cannot be retrieved
To confirm that the censorship was done correctly, you can do a simple test on the final PDF version of the censored document.
- Select a piece of text that starts several lines above the censored area and ends one or two lines before it.
- Paste the content onto a sheet of word processor or Notepad. Please review it to see if the censored text is in the content. If not listed, the censorship was a success.