Microsoft Word redaction tool

by Volker Weber

Microsoft has published a tool to prevent this kind of governmental SNAFU:

Redaction is the careful editing of a document to remove confidential information. The Microsoft Office Word 2003 Redaction Add-in makes it easy for you to mark sections of a document for redaction. You can then redact the document so that the sections you specified are blacked out. You can either print the redacted document or use it electronically.

Sensitive government documents, confidential legal documents, insurance contracts, and other sensitive documents are often redacted before being made available to the public. With the Word 2003 Redaction Add-in, users of Microsoft Office Word 2003 now have an effective, user-friendly tool to help them redact confidential text in Word documents.

Sounds good, right? Now watch Microsoft chicken out:

We recommend that you carefully review any documents redacted using this tool to confirm that all the information that you intended to redact was successfully redacted.


A quick test showed that it seems to work. The removed words are no longer in the file after you saved the redacted document. Neither do they end up in the PDF printed. The tool seems to exchange the words marked for redaction with pipe-bars (|) of appropriate ammount for the length of the word.

Markus Weimer, 2005-08-03

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