Looking at the definition for redact, it sounds as if it specifically applies to text. Can it be used with images and diagrams as well?

  • We've got some conflicting answers because there are two pretty different meanings for redact: to edit text, or to censor/black out content. Can you help us by adding more about your specific problem or how you hope to use the word?
    – aedia λ
    Commented Jun 10, 2011 at 21:54
  • I've self-censored an image here on SE, because of the concerns in the comments. You can see the usage in my question: japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/948/… Commented Jun 10, 2011 at 21:57
  • That's quite the fair use discussion there! I think image redacted makes perfect sense in that context. To me, redact (in the blacking-out sense) carries a sort of "well-meaning censorship" connotation; it conveys succinctly that there's a good reason the item was cut, like a privacy or law concern.
    – aedia λ
    Commented Jun 10, 2011 at 22:18

3 Answers 3


If you don't specify what to redact, a listener might assume you mean to sanitize a document or black out text. There's a strong association with text, but it doesn't mean you can't use the word "redact" with other things.

The current use of redact often includes image redaction, especially when discussing electronic files such as Word or PDF documents.

The NSA Redacting with Confidence guide (note, 1.4MB PDF available from NSA index) discusses redacting images - for example:

Select each chart, diagram, image, or segment of text to be redacted and delete that item.

Adobe PDF tutorials also address this issue with phrases like:

Redacting text and images in a PDF file

So if you say

We should redact the diagram on this page.

you'll be understood.

Note: Redaction has a specific meaning in literature. I'm assuming you're talking about the document sanitization meaning.

  • 4
    Now that you've told us this, does that mean you have to kill us?
    – Robusto
    Commented Jun 11, 2011 at 0:12
  • 1
    A common form of image redaction is the blurring or blanking out of vehicle number plates in photos, such as those in Google maps' Street View images. In this case the chief reason is privacy and legal considerations. In this particular example, the redaction relates to the text visible in an image, so it encompasses both categories.
    – Erik Kowal
    Commented Jun 21, 2014 at 5:11

While you might be understood when using it in a different context, it is generally recognized as referring to a process that is only performed on a text.


The definition of redact:

  1. to compose or draft (an edict, proclamation, etc)
  2. to put (a literary work, etc) into appropriate form for publication; edit

As you can see, it actually applies to literary works only.

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