2 Simple Ways To Redact Your PDFs Properly

Peter Steven Ho
7 min readSep 7, 2022

Stop redacting your PDF document with black rectangles and find out how to do it properly.

Image by Carlos Alberto Teixeira from Pixabay

Since the pandemic, many businesses and governments have opted to move their dealings online in preference to face-to-face interaction. As a consequence, application forms and personal documents must now be emailed or uploaded to a server for processing.

The shift online gives us little choice but to accept their assurances that they will keep our personal information safe. While most organisations are actively trying to do the right thing, none are immune from a growing barrage of cyber attacks that may at some stage result in an unwanted data breach.

At the other extreme, there are businesses that make it a habit of harvesting our information and sharing it with an unspecified list of affiliates (a list that is never properly disclosed).

My advice is to think carefully about the information you provide. For stance, when there is a requirement to provide Proof of income, do not simply upload in verbatim your pay slips or bank statements. Ascertain what they want specifically and act accordingly.

It’s vitally important that you redact any information that’s private or extraneous to the transaction. Just remember, it’s just about impossible to retract or delete anything that you upload once it leaves your custody.

The Problem

With a vast majority of statements, invoices and forms now electronically available in PDF (Portable Document Format), this format has now become an e-standard for business. In return, there’s also an expectation that customers submit their documents in PDF.

Don’t be pressured to upload what you already have in PDF just to satisfy an information request. It’s worth taking the time to redact your personal information first.


Likewise, when you’ve been asked to scan or photography your ID, redact what’s extraneous to the transaction. After all, you don’t want perfect copies of your ID falling into the wrong hands.

Filling In Forms

When part of the process requires you to fill in and sign a PDF or Word form, I would only consider filling in…



Peter Steven Ho

BSc (Hons), LLB. Freelance writer in Technology, Science and Travel. Come join me on a journey of discovery.