How to use document redaction in LibreOffice

LibreOffice now allows you to redact text in documents. Find out how.

How to use document redaction in LibreOffice

There may be times when your company needs to share a document that contains sensitive information. When that happens, what do you do? If you happen to employ LibreOffice, and you've installed the latest version, you make use of the new document redaction feature.

If you've never heard of redaction, the idea is simple: Black out a section or paragraphs of text such that they cannot be read under any circumstances. And now that LibreOffice contains this feature, you don't have to turn to yet another third-party tool to make it happen.

But how do you use LibreOffice's redaction feature? It's not quite as easy as it should be, but it's also not terribly challenging. Let's find out.

SEE: 10 free alternatives to Microsoft Word and Excel (TechRepublic download)

What you'll need

Obviously you'll need a document to redact. You'll also need the latest version of LibreOffice installed.

How to redact text in LibreOffice

Redacting text is straight-forward--once you know what you're looking for. If you use the LibreOffice tabbed interface, the Redact button is found in the Review tab (Figure A).

Figure A


The Redact button in the tabbed view.

If you use the standard toolbar view, then the Redaction option is found in Tools | Redact (Figure B).

Figure B


The Redact button in the standard toolbar view.

Open the document which contains the text to be redacted. Note: The document should be complete and fully edited as you cannot edit text in the Redact mode. With the document in question opened, click the Redact button and the document will open in LibreOffice Draw. Along with that new window, a floating Redaction toolbar will appear (Figure C).

Figure C


The floating Redaction toolbar.

In that floating toolbar, you have two different options for redaction:

  • Rectangle select
  • Freeform select

Unless you have a very steady hand, the best option is the Rectangle select. Click that button and then highlight the text in the document to be redacted (Figure D).

Figure D


Text selected for redaction.

Once you've selected your text for redaction, go back to the floating Redact toolbar and click the drop-down (directly to the left of the PDF icon). This drop-down (Figure E) contains two options:

  • Redact Export White
  • Redact Export Black

Figure E


The Redact drop-down.

You'll want to select the Redact Export Black option. If you select the Redact Export White option, the redaction will export at 50% opacity, which isn't a redaction at all. By selecting the Redact Export Black, you export the redacted text completely (and irrevocably) blacked out (Figure F).

Figure F


Our redacted text.

Upon selecting the Redact Export Black option, you'll be asked to name and save the new PDF file.

And that's all there is to redacting text in the latest version of LibreOffice. You can redact documents in each of the LibreOffice tools, so it's not limited to only Writer. Enjoy this new-found level of security for your company documents.

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Image: Jack Wallen