Using Redacting Dictionaries To Find and Redact Text With The AutoRedact® Plug-in For The Adobe® Acrobat®
The AutoRedact® is an advanced plug-in for the Adobe® Acrobat® software for performing PDF redaction. It is designed for removing sensitive information from PDF documents. The AutoRedact® plug-in uses redacting dictionaries to search PDF documents for all occurrences of the user-defined keywords and phrases and automatically mark it up with redacting annotations. Software comes complete with a redacting dictionary editor that provides all necessary tools for creating and managing custom redacting dictionaries. Redacting dictionaries can be easily imported, exported, printed, searched and edited.
This tutorial explains how to automatically mark up a collection of words and phrases with a redacting dictionary and redact a PDF document using the AutoRedact® plug-in for the Adobe® Acrobat®. The process contains two stages: stage 1 - creating a redacting dictionary and marking up the text, stage 2 - redacting marked content.
What is Redacting?
Redaction, by definition, means removing certain types of information from documents. In the context of United States government agency documents, redaction refers to the process of removing classified information from a document prior to its publication. For attorneys, redacting is very important procedure of protecting confidential information. Here are few examples of the redacting applied to a PDF document:
This operation is also available in Action Wizard (Acrobat's batch processing tool) and can be used for automating of document processing workflows.
You need a copy of the Adobe® Acrobat® along with the AutoRedact® plug-in installed on your computer in order to use this tutorial. You can download trial versions of both the Adobe® Acrobat® and the AutoRedact®.
Step 1 - Open a PDF File
Start the Adobe® Acrobat® application and open a PDF document that needs to be redacted using “File > Open…” menu.
Step 2 - Open the "Select Redacting Dictionary" Dialog
Select "Plug-Ins > Redacting > Mark Up Text From Dictionary…" from the main Acrobat® menu to open the "Select Redacting Dictionary" dialog.
Step 3 - Open the Managing Redacting Dictionaries Tools
If you have previously created a redacting dictionary that you want to use, then skip to step 10.
Click “Manage…” to create a new redacting dictionary.
Step 4 - Create a New Dictionary
Click “Create New…” button in "Redacting Preferences" dialog to create a new redacting dictionary. Redacting dictionaries are collections of words and phrases that need to be redacted from documents. The content of the redacting dictionary is typically user-specific and is often used on the regular basis to redact multiple similar documents.
Step 5 - Enter Dictionary Name and Description
The "Edit Redacting Dictionary" dialog will appear on the screen. Enter dictionary name and description for the new dictionary. It’s a good idea to provide a short unique name and a longer description. This will help you to identify this dictionary later.
Step 6 - Enter Redacting Entries
Click in the "Redacting Text" column to enter new or edit existing words and phrases that need to be redacted from the documents. Click in the "Exemption Code" column to enter new or edit existing exemption code. Optionally, redacting text can be exported to ASCII text file by clicking on "Save As Text…" or imported by clicking on “Import From Text". Click "OK" once done entering all required redacting items.
Step 7 - Finish Editing Redacting Dictionaries
 Click "OK" to close "Redacting Preferences" dialog.
Step 8 - Edit Preferences (Optionally)
Optionally, click “Edit Preferences…” to change style and appearance of the redacting annotations. Go to step 10 to skip changing preferences.
Step 9 - Specify Redacting Markup Settings (Optionally)
Click on the "Markup" tab. Specify redacting markup settings in the "Markup" tab. It controls how document content is marked for redacting. Click "OK" once done.
Step 10 - Start Searching For Redacting Text
Select a redacting dictionary to use for search and markup by selecting one from the "Select dictionary to use" list. Press "OK" button to start searching the current PDF document.
Step 11 - Examine the Stats
The dialog with the markup results will be displayed at the end of the processing. Click "OK" to finish.
Step 12 - Examine the Markup Results
All text that matches a set of words and phrases from the redacting dictionary is now marked up for redaction. Exemption codes are automatically added to annotations as a popup notes or comments.
Step 13 - Start Redacting Marked Content
Select "Plug-ins > Redacting > Redact Marked Content…" from the main Acrobat® menu.
Step 14 - Edit Preferences (Optionally)
If you are using the software for the first time or need to change processing options, then press "Edit Preferences..." button. Otherwise skip to step 17.
Step 15 - Select Processing Options (Optionally)
Select desired processing options in the "General" tab of the "Redacting Preferences" dialog. Check "Create a new document for redacting output" option to create a separate PDF document for the output or uncheck it to perform redacting right on the input document itself.
Step 16 - Select Visual Appearance of the Redacted Areas (Optionally)
Use the "Redacting" tab to control a visual appearance of the redacted documents.
  • Specify a redacting character to use for replacing the redacted text. By default, a blank space character is used.
  • Uncheck the "Add exemption codes to the redacted areas in output document" box in the "Exemption Codes" section if there is no need to display exemption codes on the redacted areas.
  • If redacting bars are required in the output, then check "Fill redacted areas with the color" option and select a desired color. IMPORTANT: Redacting bars are used solely for the visual appearance of the redacted areas. They are not used to cover the text. The AutoRedact® always removes redacted text from the document by replacing it with a user-specified redacting character. Click "OK" once done with processing options.
Here are the various appearance options that can be achieved:
Step 17 - Start the Redaction Process
Select a processing page range in the "Redact Document" dialog. Only selected pages will be redacted. Click "OK" to start the redaction process.
Step 18 - Check the Redacting Stats
The dialog with the redaction results will be displayed at the end of the processing. Click "OK" to finish.
Step 19 - Examine the Results
By default, the output document with redacted content will be shown on the screen. The appearance of the redacted areas are controlled by the application preferences (see Step 16).
Step 20 - Save the Redacted PDF File
Save the redacted PDF file by using "File > Save As..." menu.
Transfering Redacting Dictionaries
The AutoRedact® maintains a local repository of redacting dictionaries on the user’s computer. It’s possible to have about 16,000 different dictionaries on a single computer installation. All redacting dictionaries are stored in the AutoRedact® installation folder in a file called AUTOREDACTDict.CFS. You can copy this file between computers to transfer redacting dictionaries between different users.