The following is an excerpt from “The ultimate guide to redaction: What works, what doesn’t,” an industry guide published in the wake of recent high-profile redaction errors and designed to help everyone get redaction right.
To answer the question “why do so many people continue to redact documents incorrectly,” you need to look at the advice and guidance people are getting.
There is a wealth of information freely available on the Internet that explains how you should redact information using a variety of techniques ranging from flattening and round tripping files to redacting content and copying information from one application to another.
“The ultimate guide to redaction: What works, what doesn’t,” evaluates advice on redaction based on two criteria: efficiency and risk mitigation.
Efficiency: the redaction process must be streamlined so that it can be undertaken with minimum disruption or effort. A convoluted manual process is not only time-consuming but tends to lead to errors.
Risk mitigation: the important part of redaction is that the content is permanently removed from the document. The redaction method must ensure that the reader cannot access the redacted content in any way.
The most common workflows for redaction are:
1. Using Microsoft Word’s Find and Replace feature
You can redact information by deleting the text in the word processing version of the document. Replace text with “Text Redacted.”
2. Round tripping from Microsoft Word to Notepad and back to Word
You can redact information by deleting the text in the word processing version of the document. Replace text with “Text Redacted.” Copy the text from Word to Notepad and back to Word.
3. Changing the font color and converting to PDF
Another method of redaction for Word documents is to match the font color of the redacted text to the background color to hide it.
4. Masking text with a black box
A commonly used method is to mask content in a PDF document using the annotation tools.
Fill out the form and continue reading the guide for advice on the most commonly recommended methods for electronic redaction, Plus, learn why redaction should only ever be performed in PDF.