Tablet PC – A Student's Perspective

One Note, Note Taking and Powertoys

Marking up PDF’s

Posted by anirudhsaraf on March 11, 2008

There are several solutions/ workaround to getting this done. I just want to share my thoughts on some of them

1) Print to OneNote : This method works pretty well for single page/ small pdf files. A major disadvantage though is the loss of page demarcation as printing just puts them all together. All together a clumsy solution if the PDF is more than a few pages. Also printing large pdf files takes a very long time.

2) PDF Annotator : Great for filling out forms etc. since it opens the PDF file directly. No need for conversion. It however takes a serious performance hit for large files with frequent errors. It’s better than OneNote since it atleast retains the formatting but fails when it comes to annotating large PDF’s. I also find the double scrollbar really irritating.

3) Windows Journal : I just discovered it yesterday 🙂 I assume most users neglect Journal in favor of OneNote. However the minimalistic nature of Journal is simply great for marking up PDF’s. I printed a 600 page pdf to journal in less than a minute. Journal also gave each page in the PDF it’s own page. In my opinion it beats OneNote and PDF Annotator for annotating PDF’s. PDF annotator has the advantage that it can work directly with PDF files, but Journal coupled with PrimoPDF ( free PDF printer) can achieve the same effect. So if you have large PDF files ( e-books) which you want to mark up, give Journal a try. Note: There is a loss of quality when using the Journal Writer. Thus if the PDF is not of high quality, you are better off using PDF Annotator I think.

Sample Renderings of a PDF Page

1) Adobe Reader


2) OneNote


3) PDF Annotator


Along with the frequent error message


4) Windows Journal


Does anyone have a better solution? Feel free to comment on how you mark up those PDF’s.


11 Responses to “Marking up PDF’s”

  1. BJC said

    Bluebeam PDF Revu

  2. Adam said

    foxit PDF reader if you don’t mind the watermarks that the free version adds.

  3. James Fonda said

    use onenote,embed the pdf file, print to single pages using the onenote plugin “printout manager’. This keeps all of your info in one place. You can search the embedded pdf file in onenote as well.

  4. anirudhsaraf said

    printing to onenote for very large pdfs ( > 100 pages ) doesn’t seem to work very well; and there is the formatting/ page number issue as well;

    Although I do end up printing to OneNote just so that I can have it all in one place, it is far from ideal , specially for larger pdfs …

  5. Rainald said

    foxit PDF reader

    Are you sure?
    Could Foxit Reader be used annotate with a pen?
    I seriously doubt that.

  6. Rainald said

    1.) Which version of PDF Annotator are you using?
    I’m using it often but I did not yet come across the errors you mention.
    However, I did not work with documents with 100s of pages so far.

    2.) Keeping PDFs and annotating there would be great.
    There’s the lack of a “grouping” feature in ON which makes almost impossible to to really work with annotating.

    Therefore I gave the idea of using ON for handling PDFs.
    At present my main route is as follows:
    a) Adding comments etc. in PDF-Annotator;
    b) putting links in ON;
    c) using Acrobat’s “Organizer” to keep things together and sorted.

  7. Joe said

    Foxit Reader can be used with a pen. It actually has surprisingly good functionality; comments, highlighting, inking, etc. The inking could be better. The version I used last year didn’t seeem as smooth as I feel it should. But try and judge for yourself.

    Unfortunate with the watermark though.

  8. […] Re: Can I use Wacom Bamboo for marking essays? a couple of different methods… Marking up PDF’s Tablet PC – A Student’s Perspective […]

  9. I strongly recommend PDF-XChange. It is just as good as Foxit and doesnt watermark your work and most of the decent features required are in the freeware. I’m an avid user of OneNote and love PDF-XChange. I just do all my highlighting in PDF-Xchange then print (and attach as described above)into onenote.

  10. technozero said

    Has any one tried the open source/free Jarnal for annotation? (On its website it indicates that the commercial PDF Annotator mimics its features)

    I too am looking for appropriate PDF markup software (for use with an Asus T101MT tablet)


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