How to Redact PDF Documents the Truly Proper Way

I chose the title for this blog a bit tongue in cheek.  You see, there are numerous blog posts about how to “properly” redact PDF files.  While all of those other blog posts correctly explain the challenges that makes redacting PDF files difficult and outline all of the steps that one must take to ensure private information is completely and irreversibly redacted, all of those blog posts fail to mention one critical idea that anyone tasked with the important job of redacting electronic documents should be aware of -- automation. 

Unless you work in certain departments of the Federal Government, it’s unlikely that redaction is the only thing that you do all day. Therefore, “properly” redacting should focus on techniques that are “quick and easy” so that it gets done without causing your team to fall behind in their other work.  If your team is under time pressure to fit this unsatisfying chore into their list of work responsibilities, then your team is not doing it “properly.”  They’re probably missing redactions – accidentally exposing sensitive data.

Because redacting documents is a tedious and time-consuming task, it’s prone to accidental disclosure of sensitive data due to fatigue-related errors.  Before one person reviews documents, all documents should be pre-processed by an intelligent automated redaction algorithm that detects and assigns confidence levels to recommended redactions.  Shouldn’t technology help you find it before you have to put in the effort?

Finally, I would consider it the proper way to redact files if I did not have to take multiple steps to permanently redact the items and then have extra steps to save the document. I also, wouldn’t mind if I did not have to go looking for documents that needed to be redacted, but instead they were presented to me automatically.  Imagine if within your redaction software, you were automatically presented with documents that required redaction, the items that need to be redacted are already redacted, and it was just one click to save the redacted document before it was sent to your pre-determined storage location.


  • “Quick and easy”
  • Finds stuff for you automatically
  • Automates the workflows to get the documents to you
  • Requires just one click to save it automatically to your desired location me, that sounds like “how to properly redact PDF files.” 


Get started creating a more efficient redaction strategy for your organization download our information-packed redaction roadmap.

About the Author: Ellen Bzomowski

With 20 years of experience in data capture and voice recognition, Ellen’s experience has focused on achieving higher efficiencies and automation in getting data where it will be most useful to an organization. At Extract Systems, she continues to focus on the same ideas and works to get the word out about how Extract Systems’ advanced data capture and redaction solutions make more data valuable and accessible, while securing anything that is private. She holds an MBA from Northeastern University and lives and works in Boston.