Resources » Editing PDFs (How To's and Tutorials) » How to Black Out Text on a PDF

Learn How to Hide PDF Information Under a Black Box Online

Hiding specific pieces of text is easy enough with a physical document — you can simply use a white-out pen or black marker and draw over a piece of text. But how do you do this with digital documents? This tutorial explains how. 

First, an important distinction: Blacking out text is not the same as redaction!

When you black out (or white out!) text on a physical document, the content is still present on the PDF. A layer containing the black shape is simply applied over the PDF. If you were to black out text using PDF.Live and send it to someone, they could use PDF.Live’s editor or some other editing tool to remove the black rectangle and see the information you originally hid. 

When you redact text, the content is deleted so it’s impossible for anyone reading the document to see what was originally there. If you wanted to redact text using PDF.Live’s editor, you would use the Edit text & image & shapes tool in the Edit tab to select text or images to delete. You can then use the Drawing tool in the Comment tab to draw black rectangles to indicate where content was redacted as described below. 

So, how do you black out text using PDF.Live’s editor? 

Black Out Text on a PDF

First, locate where the PDF you want to edit is on your computer. Then, upload your PDF to an editor. You will need to drag and drop your PDF into the editor or click Select File to Edit and navigate to where the PDF is located on your computer. Once you’re ready to get started, click Edit PDF

screenshot of pdf live showing how to upload a pdf so you can add a black box to cover text

Similar to how we white out text, we’ll be drawing a rectangle over your PDF using the draw shape function. Navigate to the Edit tab and select Add Shapes

screenshot of pdf live showing how to choose add shapes to add a black box to cover text

Then, select Rectangle from the list of different shapes. 

choose the rectangle tool to add a black box to cover text on pdf live

You can then click and drag anywhere on your PDF to draw a rectangle. If you want to further adjust the dimensions of the rectangle, you can drag the dotted edges as necessary to make sure the rectangle covers all of the text you’d like to black out over. 

cover the words "thrilling" and "adventurous" with a black box using pdf live

Once you’re happy with how the rectangle looks, right-click it and select Properties

Here, you can adjust the color, thickness, border style, and opacity of your shape. By default, your rectangle will not have a colored fill. You’ll need to select Fill Color and then choose black to change the fill of your shape. 

You’ll see the rectangle will now be filled in to reflect this change. If you want to further edit or adjust rectangles or other shapes you’ve made on your PDf, click Edit text & images & shapes and then click the shape to change its position or properties.