Redaction

Table of contents: 

This article covers applying single redactions to documents. To learn how to apply redactions to multiple documents at once (i.e., batch redactions), please see this article.

Highlighter

The redaction highlighter is available in PDF view, as well as native view for spreadsheets, and lets you redact broad areas of documents. To use the redaction highlighter, first select it on the toolbar (the selected highlighter icon will have a darker background). You can also use the keyboard shortcut: "r". Then, 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 errantly highlighted a passage for redaction, click on the redaction to bring up the preference panel, then click the trashcan to delete the redaction.

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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.

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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:

  1. Redact the currently highlighted text
  2. Search for the highlighted text
  3. Redact all appearances of the highlighted text within the current document
  4. 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).

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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Redacting Metadata

In order to redact any metadata, you need to take a couple special steps to set it up. First, you must have permissions to create user-editable fields. 

Create a user editable metadata field with the same name as the metadata field you intend to redact and set the datatype as Text. See Section “User Editable Fields” of this article for detailed instructions.

 

 Then, set the value for the user-editable field to "Redacted".  

This is most common when you redact certain metadata values of emails. For example, when you redact the sender, recipient(s), subject or attachment(s) on a document, you must also redact the “From”, “To”, “Subject”, or “Attachment Names” metadata fields. Please note that this method does not work for any “Date” metadata. If you intend to redact any “Date” metadata, please contact Everlaw support. 

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Redacting spreadsheets

 

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.

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You will then 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. 

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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 Case 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.

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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

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Produced version of the document, redacted column is hidden

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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.

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

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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 has dependencies, 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. Any option you choose will be applied to all dependent cells. By default, dependent cells 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.

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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, 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 of the values, 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. 

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Importantly, if a cell is dependent on two redacted cells, and different partial redaction options are selected for those dependencies, the original will be completely redacted.

Using the lemonade stand example to illustrate, let's say we redact Monday's earnings, cell B2, and choose to partially redact its dependencies to show their formulas. 

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Now, let's say we also redact Tuesday's earnings, cell B3, but we want to partially redact its dependencies and show their values. Since Monday's earnings and Tuesday's earnings share dependencies (total, average, weekday total, and weekday average), those dependencies have conflicting decisions placed on them. Therefore, Everlaw chooses to redact all those dependencies completely. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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