Technologist - The FindLaw Legal Technology Blog

Why Lawyers Should Know How to Properly Redact

Redaction is important. And if you don't know how to properly redact a document, you could end up telling the entire world what you never intended to tell anyone.

With all the software out there that promises to help you redact, when it comes right down to it, if you use it wrong, your redaction could be about as useful as toilet paper to a scuba diver in a hot tub. Read on below to find out if you're doing it right, and if not, how to properly redact.

Are You Redacting Right?

Don't know if you're redacting properly?

Find the last doc you redacted, then, see if you can click on the redactions and move or delete them. If so, it's time to panic and frantically check to see if the copy you filed or sent to your opposing counsel or anyone has the same error.

If you couldn't just move the redactions around, you may not be entirely in the clear. You should also try to highlight the redacted sections and copy and paste it into a word document. If your words magically reappear, you really need change your ways, because others can likely do the same if you've provided electronic copies to anyone.

Also, if you still use the old method of a big sharpie and running copies, know that with the advanced tech of the late 1990s, scanners can see through the sharpie to reconstruct the words below.

Print-to-Pdf or Print Then Pdf

When a document gets converted from a word processor into a pdf format, a user must take an extra step after redacting, called "flattening" the document. This essentially means creating a new pdf document that incorporates the redaction so that it cannot be removed.

This can be done generally by doing a "print to pdf" or actually printing the document out and scanning the printed docs to create a new pdf. Be careful though when you use the print-to-pdf feature and double check that your redactions are not removable or not easily bypassed via copy and paste.

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