Redactions allow you to withhold or remove confidential information from documents. Everlaw's redaction tools allow you to easily redact the content and metadata of individual files or sets or files. You can also easily search for documents with applied redactions using the redaction search term. Learn more about searching for redactions here.
Table of contents:
- Redaction highlighter
- Text selection
- Redaction stamps
- Redacting metadata
- Redacting spreadsheets
- Redacting audio and video files
- Batch redactions
- Batch deletion of redactions
- Inverse redactions
- Adding metadata about redactions upon production
To use the redaction highlighter, first select the redaction icon on the toolbar. The selected highlighter icon will have a darker background once selected. You can also use the keyboard shortcut: "r". Although the redaction highlighter appears in all views, redacting by highlighter is only available in PDF view, as well as native view for spreadsheets, and lets you redact broad areas of documents.
To redact by highlighter, place the cursor anywhere on the document and hold while dragging the mouse. A box of transparent black will appear over your selected area. After production, this selected area will not be visible, and the text below the redaction will not be OCR’d. You can continue adding redactions after that point, until you toggle the redaction tool off (either by clicking the icon or pressing "r" again on your keyboard).
If you have mistakenly highlighted a passage for redaction, click on the redaction to bring up the preference panel, then click the trashcan to delete the redaction.
Text Selection Mode
Redaction via text selection is available in PDF view. If the text selector is not available in your full screen panel, it is likely because you have not added it to your toolbar. Click Edit Layout, then Edit Toolbar to add the text selector tool.
To redact text via this mode, select the text selection icon, and click and drag over the text you want to redact.
A pop-up panel will appear with four options:
- Redact the currently highlighted text
- Search for the highlighted text
- Redact all appearances of the highlighted text within the current document
- Add the highlighted text as a custom hit.
To delete redactions, click on them in the document to open the options panel. Then select the trashcan icon. You can also bulk delete redactions applied to a text string through the hit-highlighting panel: select the string in the custom hits panel, and choose the “remove all instances of this redaction” option (the redaction highlighter with the red 'x' in the far right).
Applying Redaction Stamps
Project admins may create standardized redaction stamps that can be used to note why particular content is redacted. These stamps are available in the options panel. The options panel can be opened by clicking on a redaction. You can select from the list to apply a pre-created stamp. If given the proper permissions, you can also create custom stamps. The applied stamp will be overlaid on the redaction.
When choosing to bulk redact via the text selection tool, stamps can be applied by clicking the dropdown caret. Small redactions that cannot fit the size of the full stamp will receive an abbreviation, identified after the stamp name and a hyphen.
If a redaction window is too small for the abbreviation, the stamp will be hidden. This is indicated by a crossed-out eye icon, and the text will not appear on the redaction. However, the redaction will still be "saved" as a component of the redaction, but not applied.
However, since the stamp is still considered "applied" in the review window, should you resize the redaction to a large enough size for the text to appear, the stamp will become unhidden.
Note that very small redactions below a certain pixel level will not be considered redactions in your production. Hidden stamps will also not be produced.
To redact metadata from the review window, toggle “Redaction Mode” in the toolbar to see redaction icons beside all metadata fields with a value. Click on the icon to redact the corresponding field.
To assign a stamp or add a note to the redaction, click on the redaction to make the annotations popup appear. To delete the metadata redaction, click the trash can in the lower right corner of the popup.
Note that if you delete a metadata value that has a metadata redaction, the metadata redaction will also be removed. You cannot have a metadata redaction over an empty metadata field.
Please note that if a document contains redactions in the metadata, then the native will be suppressed at the time of production. For example, if you apply native redactions to a spreadsheet and also redact the Author or Date Sent metadata in the same document, the document will not be produced with a native file.
Metadata redaction suggestions
During review, a reviewer may redact a value from the body of a document, but forget to redact that same value in the metadata. To help prevent this, Everlaw offers metadata redaction suggestions for both highlight and text-selection redactions.
When you draw a redaction box, or use the text selector, to redact “Kaminski” in your document, Everlaw will attempt to check if any values in the document’s metadata match “Kaminski.” If “Kaminski” is found, Everlaw may suggest that you redact “Kaminski” in the metadata as well.
If you have included a stamp on your content redaction, and you choose to redact the identical metadata from the redaction suggestion, the stamp will be applied to your metadata redactions as well.
Redaction suggestions are usually supported for Text, AddressFrom, AddressList, and Number fields. This means that you can expect to see redaction suggestions for metadata such as email parties, email subjects, document custodians, Bates numbers on previously produced documents, and more.
However, redaction suggestions are only supported if the redacted area includes text embedded in the image, which is the standard for data processed on Everlaw. Furthermore, redaction suggestions are based on exact text matches between the content and metadata redactions. This means that if you have redacted “John Smith” on an email document, but the email is from “John Smith and Jane Doe,” then the From metadata field will not be suggested for redaction. Similarly, because dates appear in so many formats, DateTime fields are never suggested for redaction.
You can redact as many cells as you’d like from the native view of a spreadsheet, down to the individual cell level. This will allow you to produce native versions of spreadsheets, without needing to image them, while still redacting sensitive information. Please note that you cannot redact spreadsheet comments using our native spreadsheet viewer and imaged spreadsheets do not display natively applied comments.
You can redact cells containing sensitive information by clicking on the redaction icon, located under the row of document views in the full screen review window, or on the left side of the top toolbar in the non-full screen review window.
With this tool selected, you will be able to redact cells in the following ways:
- Clicking on individual cells
- Clicking and dragging your cursor over a group of cells
- Clicking on a row or column heading to redact the entire row or column
- Clicking the top left corner of the spreadsheet, where the row and column headings intersect, to redact the entire spreadsheet
Redacted cells will turn black, and will show up as redacted if the document is produced. Embedded images and charts on spreadsheets cannot be redacted.
You can also redact spreadsheets using hit highlights. The redaction options in the hit highlights tab are the same as for other document types. The first redaction option allows you to redact the currently highlighted cell containing the term. The second redaction option allows you to redact all cells containing the term that occur across all pages of the spreadsheet. Finally, the last option allows you to remove all redactions, if any, of cells containing the term across all pages of the spreadsheet.
Spreadsheet redactions via the “Redact all instances” button are limited to 5000 redactions across all pages of the spreadsheet, including dependent redactions. If your selected term will create more than 5000 redactions, you will not be able to run the redaction.
Each time you redact a cell or group of cells, a dialog box, or redaction control panel, will appear. If you have redacted a group of cells, the redaction control panel’s contents will reflect the topmost and/or leftmost cell that you have redacted; click on another redacted cell to view the control panel for that cell. The control panel gives you the option to choose a redaction stamp from a dropdown menu to apply to your redacted cells. The list of available stamps will reflect those that have been created in Project Settings for your case. Additionally, if the cell you redacted contains a value based on a formula, the control panel will show the cell’s original value as well as the formula.
To delete or hide all cell redactions on a spreadsheet, activate or click on the Annotations tab or icon and navigate to “Native Redactions.” Clicking on the eye icon will allow you to hide all redactions on your spreadsheet while you are still viewing the document. Clicking on the trash can icon will allow you to delete all cell redactions.
Produced spreadsheets on Everlaw are cut off at the last row or column of content. Therefore, if you redact a full column or row at the end of your sheet, those redactions will be hidden.
Native document, redacted column
Produced version of the document, redacted column is hidden
Redacting dependent cells
When redacting a cell, the redaction tool will take into consideration cell dependencies. A dependency is a cell that is dependent on another cell. For example, if you have a list of values and one of the cells is a formula, then the cell that includes the formula is a dependency of the values in the other cells.
However, please note that the data behind pivot tables is not included in automatic dependent redactions. If you are redacting a pivot table, you must remember to redact the pivot table data as well.
Let's use this example below for illustrating redaction of dependencies. This spreadsheet displays earnings from a lemonade stand over the course of the week. It also includes
- The total earnings that week
- The average earnings that week
- The total weekday earnings
- The average weekday earnings
- The total weekend earnings
- The average weekend earnings
Cell B9 is the "total" of all earnings that week. That means it is a dependency of all cells that include earnings, B2-B8. Similarly, since B11 is the sum of all weekday earnings, it is a dependency of cells B2-B6.
If you redact a cell that references another cell, the control panel will show the total number of dependencies and give you additional options for redacting them. You will be able to choose between redacting the dependencies completely, replacing the dependencies with a formula, or keeping the dependencies' original values displayed (without the formula). Any option you choose will be applied to all dependencies. By default, they are redacted completely.
Let's use the same example to illustrate.
Let's redact Wednesday's earnings, cell B4. B4 has four dependencies: B9 (total earnings), B10 (average earnings), B11 (weekday sum), and B13 (weekday average). These cells all include formulas that depend on the value of cell B4. When redacting cell B4, you have the option to redact the four dependencies completely, replace with their formulas, or keep their values. In the below example, we've chosen to redact the dependencies completely.
Choosing to replace a dependent cell’s contents with a formula or keep the cell’s original value is known as a partial redaction. For any selected redaction, fully redacted cells will be gray, while partially redacted cells will have an orange border. Otherwise, if no selection is made, redacted cells will be black, and partially redacted cells will have a red border.
Note that in our example, the totals and averages are dependencies, but the opposite is not true. The earnings reported each day are not dependent on the total/average cells to compute their values. Therefore, if you were to redact Total earnings, cell B9, there would be no dependencies listed or available for complete or partial redaction.
Importantly, let's say a cell is a dependency, and it references two different redacted cells. If the redaction dependency settings are different for the two referenced cells, then the dependency will be completely redacted.
Using the lemonade stand example to illustrate, let's say we redact Monday's earnings, cell B2, and choose to show the dependencies' formulas.
Now, let's say we also redact Tuesday's earnings, cell B3, and we choose to show the values of the dependency. We know that Monday's earnings and Tuesday's earnings share dependencies (the cells that display total, average, weekday total, and weekday average), but now those dependencies have conflicting redaction settings. Therefore, Everlaw chooses to redact all those dependencies completely.
If you have disabled the ability to redact dependencies for your spreadsheet, the option to redact dependent cells will not appear. Instead, the redaction dialog will display a warning message letting you know that your redactions will not affect dependent cells.
If you are redacting cells in a very large spreadsheet and have enabled the redaction of dependent cells, the redaction operation may time out. This occurs to prevent the entire spreadsheet from crashing.
Should a timeout be triggered, the ability to redact dependent cells will automatically be disabled for the spreadsheet during the viewing session.
You can close the redaction control panel by clicking on the X in the upper right hand corner or the blue Done button on the bottom of the panel. Clicking on a redacted cell will reopen that cell’s control panel. You can click the trash can icon in the bottom right hand corner to delete individual redactions.
To redact pivot tables, it is advised to redact the source range of the pivot tables with dependency redactions enabled. This is because pivot tables are dynamically generated and the content can be generated again if the source data is not redacted in the spreadsheet. If the source data is redacted, the pivot table will be redacted as a dependency and will not be exposed.
There are some important caveats to keep in mind when producing spreadsheets with redactions. While native versions are usually withheld for redacted documents, the opposite is true for redacted spreadsheets. This is because spreadsheets are redacted in native view, while other documents are redacted in PDF or image view. Therefore, if you choose to include natives when producing redacted spreadsheets, the subsequent production will include native spreadsheet files, with redactions intact, and placeholder image files. If your native file format was originally .xlsb, the produced and redacted native documents will be .xlsx.
Redacting audio and video files
There are several ways to create redactions on audio or video files, including using redaction buttons or keyboard shortcuts from the redaction panel, or from the transcript. All possible ways to create audio and video redactions will be covered in the following sections.
Creating a redaction from the redactions panel
To create redactions on an audio or video file, open the file in the review window. Next, turn redaction mode on by clicking on the Redact icon, pressing the keyboard shortcut “r” or clicking on the header of the redaction panel. A redactions panel will pop up below the audio or video file. This panel is identical for audio and video files.
The redactions panel can be broken into three sections. The top row contains active buttons, such as “Mark start”, “Mark end”, play/pause, and preview settings. The middle row contains the redaction editing bar, with entries for Start time, End time, Redaction stamp, and Redaction note. The redaction that you are currently editing or creating will be displayed in this middle row. Finally, the bottom section of the table contains a list of all redactions already created for this video or audio file. In the example above, no redaction is currently being edited, but two redactions currently exist.
There are several ways to create audio and video redactions. One such way is to play the video up to the moment you want to start a redaction. At that moment, press “Mark start” in the top row of the redactions panel, or press the keyboard shortcut “,” (comma). Next, at the moment that you want the redaction to end, press “Mark end” in the redactions panel, or press the keyboard shortcut “.” (period).
Note that the video will continue to play after you press “Mark start” and “Mark end” unless manually paused. The buttons next to “Mark start” and “Mark end” are for ease-of-use. The play/pause button plays or pauses the video; and the 1 and 5 buttons advance or rewind the video by 1 and 5 seconds, respectively.
The selected start and end times will appear in the redaction editing bar in the middle row of the redactions table, as shown below. In this editing bar, you can use the up and down arrows next to the selected times to change the entered times by 0.1 second increments. You can also adjust the times by typing into the start and end time boxes. Finally, you can add a redaction stamp and/or a redaction note.
To finish the redaction, click on the blue Redact button or press Enter/Return.The redaction will then appear in the table in the bottom section of the panel, added to the list of all existing redactions on this file. Clicking the play button on any row of this table will play the selected redacted section of the video or audio file.
Creating a redaction from the video or audio transcript
You can also view and create redactions from the video or audio transcript. Please note that if the video or audio file was uploaded prior to the 26 February 2021 release, then the file will first need to be reprocessed. Learn more about how to reprocess documents here.
To create redactions from the transcript, ensure that the Transcript icon and the Redact icon have been selected.
The transcript will be displayed next to the video or audio file. Redactions created in the redactions panel will automatically appear on the transcript.
To create a redaction in the transcript, click and drag to highlight the transcript text you want to redact. Redactions created in the transcript will automatically appear in the redactions panel as well.
You can redact multiple words or phrases within a document using Hit Highlights, but you cannot use batch redaction in the results table to redact text from audio or video file transcripts. However, as before, you can use batch redaction to redact metadata and delete all redactions from audio and video files.
Editing and deleting a redaction
To edit a redaction, open the redactions panel, then click on the pencil icon next to the redaction you want to edit. Alternatively, you can click on the redaction in the transcript view while in redaction mode.
The redaction information will be removed from the table and appear in the editing bar of the redactions panel. From here, enter changes to the redaction the same way you would when creating a new redaction. To save the changes, click the blue Redact button again.
To delete a redaction, click the trash can icon next to the pencil icon, or delete all native redactions from the Annotations panel. You can also batch delete redactions from the results table.
Previewing a redaction
To preview redactions on the file, toggle on preview mode. This toggle is located at the top of the redactions panel. However, you can still view audio and video files in preview mode even if the redactions panel is closed.
In video files, redacted content will be partially obfuscated in the preview (but fully redacted in the production). Also, the redaction may be slightly less precise in the preview than in the production.
The gear icon underneath the preview mode toggle allows you to preview the effect of settings which can be chosen for production in the production wizard. See the Audio/video redaction settings section of the Productions article for additional details about these settings.
Batch redactions allow you to redact terms and phrases from all selected documents. Please note that, as with individual redactions, only documents with PDFs and embedded text can be batch redacted.
To perform a batch redaction, first open a results table of the documents you would like to redact. You can do this by running a search for the documents, or by opening the documents from a homepage card.
Once you have your results table open, select which documents you would like to redact using the checkboxes on the left side of each document’s row. By default, all the documents in your results table are selected, but you can select and deselect documents by clicking the checkboxes in the document’s row. Please note that batch redactions are run on refreshed search results, even if you have not refreshed your search. This means that all selected documents will be redacted, as well as any documents that fit your search criteria but are not displayed in the results table. To display all documents to be redacted, click the Refresh icon in the results table toolbar.
Once you have opened the documents you would like to batch redact, click the Batch icon in the results table toolbar and then choose Redact.
In the batch redaction panel, enter or select the terms or metadata fields you wish to redact. Click on the text box under “Redact a term” to see a dropdown of persistent highlight categories, as well as individual persistent highlights. Click on “Redact metadata fields” to see a dropdown of all visible metadata fields on your documents.
If you select a persistent highlights category, you can expand the name of the category to view the underlying persistent highlights.
To redact a new term or phrase, simply type it into the textbox and hit Enter. You can run and redact simple keyword searches. For example, to redact any instance of the word “California” or the word “Oakland,” you can run a boolean search for “california OR oakland.”
You can also run and redact advanced content searches. For example, you could redact all strings in which the words “summary” and “report” appear within five words of each other. This would redact “summary” and “report,” as well as any (five or fewer) words that appear between them.
You can see a preview of the text to be redacted under “Sample hits” in the batch redaction panel. These live hits are generated from the text of the selected documents in your results table and you can use them to QA your intended redactions. Please note that only 30 terms will generate live hits, although all terms with hits will be redacted.
To the right of Sample Hits, you can see the number of documents that will be affected by the batch redaction per term. You can also see the number of documents that are not redactable because they do not have images with embedded text. Except for spreadsheets, which are included in the batch redaction, documents without PDFs or with PDFs without embedded text will not be included in this count and will not be redacted. Everlaw can only determine whether those documents are not redactable after you conduct the batch action. You can always view a report of which documents were and were not redacted after completing the batch redaction task from the card in the Batches & Exports column. Counts of non-redactable hits cannot be generated for metadata.
Once you have entered the terms or phrases you would like to redact, click Configure in the top right corner of the batch redaction panel. This will open a dialog box that lists the terms or phrases to be redacted, and gives options for adding redaction stamps and notes.
If you choose to apply a redaction stamp, all redactions in the batch action will receive the same stamp. If you choose to apply a note during the batch redaction, the same note will appear on all redacted documents. This note will be an attorney note, appearing at the document level, rather than a redaction note linked to the particular redaction. One note is added per redacted document, rather than one note per redaction.
This dialog will also include options for redaction dependency settings for spreadsheets in the batch redaction. These dependency settings are identical to the redaction dependency settings for dependent cells in individual spreadsheets. You can learn more about redaction dependency options in this Knowledge Base article.
Once you have configured your batch redaction, click Save. This will start a batch action that can be monitored from the homepage under Batches & Exports.
Spreadsheet batch redactions are limited to 5000 redactions across all pages of the spreadsheet. This limit applies to both batch redactions from the results table and the “Redact all instances” button in the review window. If a batch redaction creates more than 5000 redactions on one spreadsheet, that spreadsheet will not be redacted, and this failure will be indicated on the Batches & Exports card and associated CSV. Other documents in the batch redaction will still be redacted.
Please note that if you have chosen to redact a large number of documents (e.g., all documents in your project), the task may take many hours to complete. Once your batch redaction has completed, its batch action card will tell you whether the batch redaction was completed successfully. If none of your documents were batch redacted, you’ll see a red notification like the below. You can click the document count to go to a search of the documents, or click the download icon to view a basic CSV report.
A batch redaction may also be partially successful, meaning that some documents were redacted and others were not. By downloading the report, you can see whether contents and/or metadata were redacted.
Batch deletion of redactions
Users with appropriate redaction permissions can delete redactions in bulk. To do so, select the documents you wish to include in your batch deletion from the results table, then click on the Batch dropdown in the toolbar and select Redact.
The redaction panel has a “Delete” toggle. Click on this toggle to access the redaction deletion panel.
In the “Delete document text redactions” entry box, you can search for redacted words or phrases to un-redact, for example by entering a particular person’s email address or phone number. You can also search for persistent highlights and persistent highlight categories, and enter most regular expressions (regex). However, for batch redaction deletion searches, if your search term is in quotes, you cannot use wildcards in conjunction with the following three symbols: [@ . '] [“at” symbol, period, apostrophe]. In this case, wildcards will behave like normal asterisks.
Batch un-redacting by text match will only work for text redactions that are an exact match for the phrase searched. Metadata, image, and full-page redactions will not be included in the batch deletion.
However, in the “Delete metadata field redaction” entry box, you can delete all redactions on a particular metadata field.
Finally, in the “Delete redactions by stamp” entry box, you can delete redactions with a specific redaction stamp. This method of un-redacting will work for all types of redactions, including text, image, full-page, and metadata redactions, as long as those redactions have the selected redaction stamp.
The batch redaction panel will automatically display sample hits for all text redactions.
If you want to delete all redactions on your documents rather than just selected hits, select the “Delete all redactions” radio button.
Once you are ready to make your deletion, click on the red “Delete redactions” button. When you click this button, a popup dialog with a warning message will automatically appear. Clicking the Delete button on this dialog will kick off the deletion.
A card will automatically be generated in the “Batches & Exports” column on the homepage. From this card, you will be able to see how many documents were un-redacted. Clicking on the number will take you to a search of all documents affected by this deletion. You will also be able to download a CSV containing information about the deleted redactions. Finally, you will be able to undo the batch deletion by clicking on the Undo arrow at the bottom right of the card.
Undoing a batch deletion will also generate a Batch Action card. Note that if any documents have been deleted or reprocessed, Everlaw will not be able to undo a completed redaction deletion on those documents. Furthermore, if new metadata redactions or full-page redactions have been created where redactions were removed, Everlaw will not replace the new redactions with the deleted ones. You can download a report of successful and unsuccessful redaction replacement on the undo batch action card.
Note that users with “Create” redaction permissions can only delete redactions that they have created, but users with “Admin” redaction permissions can delete redactions created by anyone.
If you need to redact most of your document, inverse redaction mode will allow you to select what not to redact instead of what to redact. In this mode, Everlaw will redact everything outside of the box you draw instead of redacting the content inside the box.
To use inverse redaction mode, click on the dropdown arrow next to the redaction icon in the toolbar, then select “Inverse redact”. You can also trigger inverse redaction mode with the keyboard shortcut “e”.
Once inverse redaction mode is on, you can draw inverse redactions in the same way you would draw regular redactions. When you start the process of clicking-and-dragging to create an inverse redaction, a full-page redaction will automatically be applied. You don’t have to create a full-page redaction before drawing an inverse redaction.
Alternately, if you want to apply a full-page redaction without creating an inverse redaction, use the keyboard shortcut Shift+r or simply click on the page while in inverse redaction mode.
Click anywhere on the redacted space to bring up the redaction stamp dialog. From this dialog, you can add a stamp or a note to the full-page redaction surrounding the inverse redaction. You can also delete the full-page redaction by clicking the trash can in the lower right corner of the dialog. Deleting the full-page redaction will automatically delete any inverse redactions cut out of it.
To delete an inverse redaction, click anywhere inside the inverse redaction. A small trash can will appear in the lower right corner of the inverse redaction. Clicking on the trash can will delete the inverse redaction.
You can create as many inverse redactions on a single page as needed. Inverse redactions can overlap with each other and with regular redactions. On production, regular redactions, including persistent hit redactions, will take precedence over inverse redactions, so the final produced document will always display the maximum redacted space. This reduces the risk of accidentally exposing parts of the document meant to be redacted.
If you want to redact many pages of a long document, select “Redact pages” in the redaction dropdown menu.
Clicking “Redact pages” will bring you to a dialog box where you can choose to redact the current page, all pages, or a custom range of pages in the document. You can also add a stamp or a note to be applied to all these redactions.
On production, full-page redactions will be burned into the document. Full-page redactions take precedence over regular redactions, which take precedence over the spaces carved out when doing an inverse reaction. Therefore, regular redactions and their stamps will always be obscured by a full-page redaction, as seen in the example below. However, regular redactions will still appear over inverse redactions.
Document in the review window
Note that Everlaw has added white space at the bottom of the produced document in order to display the Bates number (as well as any other endorsements selected on production). This white space will also appear on the top of the document if you have chosen to put the Bates number or endorsements at the top of your document. This white space is not part of the original image; the original image will always be completely obscured by the full-page redaction.
Adding metadata about productions upon upload
Everlaw makes it easy to produce a metadata field indicating that a document is redacted. On the load file step of the production protocol wizard, simply search for the "Redacted" calculated field and include it in your load file. If a document in your production has redactions applied, the field will be populated with a yes value; if not, the field will be populated with a no value. Learn more about productions here.