pdf commenting004As a graphic designer, I use PDF files routinely to send clients design proofs. It is most convenient for me and the clients if they simply mark up, or comment, directly on the PDF file. This is easily done with Adobe software. Adobe Acrobat and Adobe Reader are two separate applications that allow you to open and view documents saved as a PDF (Portable Document Format) file. With Adobe Acrobat you get many tools that enable you to edit and create PDF documents, as well as add bookmarks, add comments, change security settings, and much more. You have to buy this application, whereas Adobe Reader is free software that lets you open and view a PDF document.

Adobe Reader is available in two versions (both free). One is a basic version with a smaller set of features and the second,  a broader version, gives you all the commenting tools needed to be able to mark up your PDF easily. You can upgrade to the broader version, Reader XI, which comes with the full set of commenting tools.

Once Adobe Reader is installed, you can find the tools to mark up your PDF listed under the Tools menu > Comment & Markup. Here is a quick description of the primary PDF mark up and commenting tools.

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1. Note Tool

From the Tools Menu (or Toolbar), select the Note tool, and then click your cursor where you want to add a sticky note. A yellow text box pops up and you simply type in your comment or instruction. It has the date, time and author handy for time-sensitive jobs and tracking.

TIP: You can change the colour of your Note, by clicking on it, click Options on the right, scroll down to Properties and pick a new colour from the pop-up menu. (You can also change the Author under Properties.)

2. Text Edit Tools

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Select the Text Edit tool and select the text you want to change. You have 3 options with this tool: Insert text, Delete Text or Replace Text. Click your cursor where the editing is required and the new text can be typed in or copied and pasted. Either way, auto spell will highlight any typos (this wonderful feature  is the same for all editing boxes!).

Be aware that the text edit indicator on a marked up PDF proof can be quite small (such as Insert Text) and may be overlooked. So you may want to use the Note tool or Highlight tool to make sure it is noticed.

TIP: Turn on Comment View – or, if you print, print with commenting on — to see a list of all comments and edits done to the PDF.

3. Stamp Tools

The stamp tool is very much like using a rubber stamp to a paper document. Applying a stamp to your PDF document gives everyone a quick and simple way of indicating the status of the document. You can choose from a list of stamps, some examples are “confidential”, “approved”, “final” or create your own “rubber stamp”. I use stamp tools mostly for editing and placing common graphics, logos or stamps.

4. Highlighter, Cross-Out Text, and Underline Text Tools

I use the Highlighter tool frequently! Mostly because it’s pretty hard to miss a yellow highlighted line!

Select any of these tools, then with your text cursor select the word(s), sentence(s) or paragraph(s). Once you see the highlighted/crossed-out or underlined text, double-click on it and a note box will pop up associated with it; if it would be helpful, leave a comment or instructions. Crossed-out text is self-explanatory… delete it. But, you may want the crossed-out text to be replaced with new text, so double click it and add the new text in the commenting box.

TIP: When I need to reword most of the paragraph, I will often copy and paste the entire paragraph of text into a Note box rather than try to mark up the paragraph with many cross-outs, highlights and new text added notes. A single new text to be added Note makes it less messy and easier to understand.

5. Attach a File As a Comment Tools

I don’t use this tool often, but a client might if they want to attached a new word doc or file to be used when replacing larger sections of text or supplying new graphics or logos.

TIP: It’s just as easy to include attachments in the email along with your marked-up PDF, it may be easier to manage and track all supporting files this route.

6. Callout Tool

I think this is a personal choice. The Call Out tool, lets you draw a white box with a red frame, and input text with an arrow attached. It seems to be used more when there are a number of different sources reviewing and proofing. It’s handy because the box can be quite large, but then also a bit of a disadvantage because the box is not transparent making it hard to see anything underneath it. Once the box is drawn, as with any of the other boxes, you can resize and move it around the page.

TIP: If you accidentally delete a Note, you can simply “Undo” to get it back.

7. Cloud Tool

I’ve seen the cloud tool used mostly to highlight an area. (It’s pretty!)

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8. Arrow Tool

Use the Arrow tool as you would draw and use an arrow, it comes in handy when you want to point something out or want to indicate where something (text or image) should be placed.

9. Dimensioning Tool

DO NOT USE THIS – just kidding, I usually use this when I need to confirm spacing of anything that may look off.

10. Text Box Tool

This is just like the Callout tool, but has no arrow attached to it.

Tip: Once you make an initial comment, the tool changes (to the Hand tool) so that you can move, resize or edit your comment. Exceptions include the Pencil, Highlighting and Line tools, as they stay selected – but you can change that in the tool properties to stay selected (Choose View > Toolbars > Properties Bar – select Keep Tool Selected).

Download the latest Adobe Reader and simplyfy your proofing and editing process. By using these tools you’ll help your designer get the work back to you faster!