What will Hillary Clinton's email release look like?

(CNN)If you haven't been living under a rock for the past two weeks, you probably know that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton used a private email account during her time as secretary, and that -- at the request of the State Department -- she submitted 55,000 pages of emails from that account for proper archiving.

You probably also saw that Clinton asked the State Department to release her emails to the public, and they have agreed to do so "as soon as possible."
Now, as the initial controversy over the episode is subsiding, we're beginning to get a clearer picture of what the State Department is doing to get Clinton's emails out of their boxes and into the public record.

When will the emails be shared?

    The State Department has not put an exact time line on the process, but officials say the full review is expected to take "several months." However, a smaller subset of emails will be released sooner.
    That subset contains about 300 emails -- totaling 900 pages -- which have already been turned over to the House Select Committee on Benghazi in response to a request related to their ongoing investigation of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012.
    After those have been made public, the department will complete the full review and ultimately release the entire cache of emails.

    So they're releasing everything?

    Well, not everything. The State Department is reviewing the emails to determine what information they can and cannot share with the public.
    The review will follow the process laid out by the Freedom of Information Act -- commonly referred to as FOIA -- which includes several categories of information exempted from public release.
    Staff at the State Department will have to sort through the 55,000 pages and "redact" any information that meets the exemption criteria before they release them, and it's that redaction process that's holding up the release.

    What information will be redacted?

    FOIA's webpage lists nine fairly broad categories of exempted information which would be redacted from these emails if it's found. These include everything from trade secrets and confidential financial information to data that would constitute an invasion of personal privacy.
    State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters on Thursday the State Department will also remove any emails "deemed not to be agency records" -- meaning emails that are personal in nature and do not pertain to State Department business.
    However, Clinton and her staff say all the emails they sent in were work-related, so there shouldn't be many of those.

    What about classified information? Will they redact that?

    Classified national security information is among the FOIA exempt criteria, so if any such information appears in the emails, it will be redacted.
    That said, Clinton and her staff have insisted she never sent classified information in her emails, knowing it would be against the law to do so.
    The State Department has said the goal of its review is only to determine what will and won't be released. They are not looking into whether she violated the law with her correspondence.
    Nevertheless, reporters have repeatedly asked what would happen if classified information is discovered in the emails during the course of the investigation. So far, officials will only say they aren't going to "prejudge" the process.

    So what's left after the redaction are made?

    Broadly speaking, a lot.
    The Federal Records Act requires government agencies to "make and preserve records containing adequate and proper documentation of the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures and essential transactions of the agency and designed to furnish the information necessary to protect the legal and financial rights of the government and of persons directly affected by the agency's activities."
    By law, Clinton was required to submit any email meeting that criteria for preservation by the National Archives.
    Once the redacted information is removed, along with any emails the State Department decides is not work-related, whatever remains of the 55,000 pages will be released.

    How much does a review like this cost?

    The State Department hasn't provided an estimate, but trial lawyers say it will likely cost tens of thousands of dollars.
    Bloomberg recently reported the review would cost taxpayers more than $1 million, but at a recent press briefing, Psaki called that figure "overstated."

    I'd like to read these emails! Will I be able to?

    Really? That sounds like a terrible way to spend your free time.
    But you're in luck. The State Department is planning to release the emails on a publicly accessible website.
    This means the emails will be available not only to lawmakers and journalists, but also anyone else who might be interested.
    If Clinton decides to run for president in 2016, her critics and supporters alike will no doubt pour through that information to get a better picture of her time as secretary.