Redaction in a PDF

Redaction permanently removes parts of text or images from a PDF file, and replaces them with black rectangles. This lets you remove sensitive information from a paragraph, table, heading, or a bitmap image. The rest of the document is unaffected, and can be viewed and printed normally.

Redaction is a two-step process - mark areas for redaction, and then apply redactions:

  1. Select images, words, paragraphs, or pages, and apply redaction-marks. Redaction marks for text and images are non-destructive. They indicate which parts of the PDF document are selected for redaction.
  2. When you are satisfied that all your redaction marks are suitably placed, and you want to permanently remove content marked for redaction, then you apply redactions.
Note: Redaction marks, images, and pages are removed permanently as soon as you apply redactions. Undo (Ctrl+2) cannot restore redacted content after you apply redactions.

Redactions are not saved to the PDF document until you save the PDF file. If you apply an unwanted redaction, close the file immediately without saving, and re-open it.

When you save a PDF file with redactions, you are advised to use a different file name, and indicate that redactions are applied. Nitro Pro prompts you to append _redacted to the file name.

Redaction affects text and images on the content layer only. Therefore, if you want to remove an annotation or vector graphics, right-click it, and select Delete from the menu.

For more information, see Annotation layer and content layer.

Redaction does not remove metadata from your PDF document.

For more information, see Remove metadata.

Mark for Redaction

To mark text for redaction:

  1. On the Redact tab, select Mark for Redaction. The mouse cursor changes to an I-beam over text, an arrow over images, and a crosshair elsewhere.
  2. Do one of the following:

To mark an image for redaction:

  1. On the Redact tab, select Mark for Redaction. The mouse cursor changes to an I-beam over text, an arrow over images, and a crosshair elsewhere.
  2. Do one of the following:
Note: Redaction marks respect the order that text and images are stacked. All image and text under the redaction mark is redacted.

Example #1: If text is on top of an image, a redaction mark on the text also redacts the same area of the image under the marked text.

Example #2: If a background image on a page has text in front of it and the image is redacted, the text is unaffected. The redaction mark might be the same color as the text, but the text remains, and can be selected and copied.

To mark pages for redaction:

  1. Click the Pages tab on the left side of the window. The Pages panel opens.
  2. In the pages panel, do one of the following:

Areas marked for redaction are shaded red by default. To preview how a redaction mark will appear after redaction is applied, hover your mouse cursor over the redaction mark. The selected area is covered by a black rectangle.

Tip: You can customize colors and other features of redaction marks and redactions by configuring Redaction Properties.

To repeat marks across pages:

1. Right-click a redaction mark, and select Repeat Mark Across Pages

2. Specify a range of pages to receive the same redaction mark, and then filter by all, odd or even pages

3. Click OK to repeat the redaction mark in the same position on other pages

Tip: Repeat Marks Across Pages is useful for redacting unwanted headers and footers from every page.

Remove a redaction mark

To remove a redaction mark, use the Mark for Redaction, Hand or Select tool, and do one of the following:

  • Click on an area marked for redaction, and press Delete
  • Right-click an area marked for redaction, and select Delete from the menu

Apply Redactions

To apply a redaction on an individual redaction mark:

  1. Right-click on the mark
  2. Select Apply Redaction from the context menu

To apply redactions to all marked areas:

  • On the Redact tab, in the Redaction group, click Apply Redactions
Note: When you Save or Save As your PDF file after applying a redaction, Nitro Pro prompts you to append _redacted to the filename so the original PDF file is not overwritten.

Configure redaction properties

To configure default redaction properties:

  1. On the Redact tab, click Mark Content, and select Redaction Mark Properties. The Redaction Properties dialog appears.
  2. On the Overlay Appearance tab, specify your default redaction properties, such as the color of redaction marks, and click OK

To customize redaction properties for a specific redaction mark:

  1. Right-click the redaction mark and select Properties. The Redaction Properties dialog appears.
  2. Specify properties such as colors and redaction codes, which are different to the default properties. These settings override the defaults set via the Redaction Mark Properties button (explained in the procedure above this one), and apply to the selected redaction mark only.

To use properties (including redaction codes) of a selected redaction mark as the default for future redactions, right-click the redaction mark, and select Make Current Properties Default.

Redaction Codes

Redaction Codes indicate why content was redacted. Nitro Pro is pre-loaded with commonly used redaction codes, also known as exemption codes, which apply to the US FOIA (Freedom Of Information Act) and the US Privacy Act, for example, (b)1A.

Tip: You can specify default redaction codes to be associated with redaction marks when you create them. You can also customize redaction codes and define your own code sets of customized redaction codes.

Alternatively, you can specify custom text for a redaction mark.

To specify default redaction codes to associate with redaction marks:

  1. On the Redact tab, click Mark Content, and select Redaction Mark Properties from the menu. The Redaction Properties dialog appears.
  2. Check the Use Overlay Text checkbox
  3. Specify a fill-color, a font, color, and size for the overlay text
  4. On the Overlay Appearance tab, select a redaction code from a code set:
  5. Click OK to save the default redaction codes to associate with redaction marks
Tip: To specify custom text instead of a redaction code from a code set, on the Overlay Appearance tab (step 4, above), select Custom Text and enter text to apply to the annotation.

To associate redaction codes with an existing redaction mark:

  1. Right-click the redaction mark and do one of the following:

To customize code sets and redaction codes:

  1. On the Redact tab, click Mark Content and select Redaction Mark Properties. The Redaction Properties dialog appears.
  2. On the Overlay Appearance tab, check the Use Overlay Text checkbox.
  3. Select a code set from the Code Sets menu. The Codes list shows available redaction codes.
  4. To customize redaction codes, click Edit Code Sets. The Redaction Codes Editor dialog appears. This lets you edit code sets, and the codes in each code set.
  5. Select one or more redaction codes from the list, customize, and then click OK.
Note: Redaction code sets are stored in an XML file located here: %appdata%\Nitro\Pro\11.0\Redaction

Advanced users and IT administrators may prefer to modify this file directly.

Search and Redact

Search and Redact searches for keywords or phrases, and lets you select matching expressions to mark for redaction.

  1. On the Redact menu, click Search and Redact.
  2. Enter a search term and click Search. A list of matching terms appears. Click + to expand the list of found matches. Results from successive searches are cumulative.
  3. Use the check-boxes to select one or one or more terms from the results list. Select check-boxes to add redaction marks over associated text. To remove listed redaction marks, deselect those check-boxes.
  4. Click Redact All Marks. All redaction marks in the PDF document are applied.
Tip: You can click on matching search results to go to their location in the PDF document and preview the redaction mark as selected text.

Note: Search results will remain in the Search panel after cancelling a redaction operation, allowing you to perform the same search faster, without entering the same search phrases again.