Collaborating with Comments

In addition to leading viewers around a PDF document with bookmarks, you can comment on various aspects of a PDF document and use those comments to navigate through a PDF. Acrobat provides two levels of Review and Commenting tools ”basic and advanced. Here is a guide on how to use them:

There are four basic Commenting tools: the Note, Text Edits, Stamp, and Highlighting tools. To activate these tools if they re not already visible, click the Review & Comment icon in the main tool palette, and choose the Commenting Toolbar option (Figure 9.7).

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Figure 9.7: Open the Commenting toolbar.

You can drag this toolbar out of the main tool palette to float on its own, as shown. Also, the Text Edits, Stamp, and Highlighting tools have multiple variations and can be further detached to their own even smaller toolbars .


When you are through commenting on a document, be sure to save all of your comments, additions, and changes. In fact, it s a good idea to do a save periodically as you progress through your document.

Highlighting Text to Suggest Edits

If you want to bring attention to some text and even suggest an edit to it, the Highlighting tools are your best bet: Highlighter, Underline Text, and Cross-Out Text. These are the simplest of the Commenting tools. Here s how they work:

You can access them from the basic Comments tool palette or activate the floating Highlighting toolbar by selecting Show Highlighting Toolbar.

To mark text, just select a tool and drag across the text you would like to highlight, underline, or strike through.

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If you would like to add a comment to go along with that highlighted text, you do not have to reselect the text. You could add a note next to the text, as described in the following section, but the easiest method is to select the Hand tool (press H) and double-click the highlighted text. A Highlight note field will appear in which you can enter your comment.

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When you are through making your comment, click the X in the upper-right corner to close the field; you or your readers can reopen your note by double-clicking the highlighted text again.

Adding Sticky Notes

The Note tool is probably the most used commenting tool. It works like a digital sticky note:

  1. Click the Note Tool icon .

  2. Click and drag your cursor over the area where you would like the comment to be placed. A Note field appears on screen.

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  3. Type in the comment text.

  4. When you are through making your comment, click the X in the upper-right corner of the note to close the note, or press the Esc key to deselect the note but leave it open. Once it is closed, a small sticky-note icon will be placed on the page at the point from which you initially dragged out the note.

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  5. To edit your comment, double-click the collapsed sticky-note icon to open it.

Suggesting Text Deletions and Insertions

The Text Edits tool allows you to make a variety of text-editing comments, including deletions and changes, while keeping the original text there for everyone to see.

  1. Click the Select Text tool (press V) or the Text Edits tool (press E).

  2. Select the text you would like to edit by dragging over it, or insert your cursor in the text.

  3. Click the down-arrow next to the Text Edits tool icon, and choose an option (Figure 9.8).

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    Figure 9.8: Select the text or place your cursor in the text, and then choose a Text Edits option.

For example, if you select some text and choose the Cross Out Text For Deletion option, the text will appear with a red line through the middle.

To insert text instead of deleting or editing it, you don t need to select any text first. Just place the cursor where you would like to make a note about a text edit, and then choose the relevant command. For example, if you use the Insert Text At Cursor menu choice, an Insert Text window field will prompt you for the new text. Type it in, and then click the X in the upper-right corner to close the window. The Text Insertion icon will remain visible (Figure 9.9).

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Figure 9.9: I ve marked two words for deletion and added a note about some new text.

Adding a Text Comment Box

Sometimes you may want just a simple box of text comment that does not collapse but remains visible all the time. This is when you will want to use the Text Box tool.

To use this tool, first select Tools > Advanced Commenting > Show Advanced Commenting Toolbar. This will add the Advanced Commenting tool set to the main tool palette, allowing you to select tools there without having to return to this menu. Then, if you choose, you can float the Advanced Commenting toolbar by dragging it out of the main tool palette.

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Select the Text Box tool and drag the cursor across the area where you would like the text box to be located. Type in your comment, and press the Enter key when you have finished. The text box will automatically shrink to fit the size of the copy.

This box will remain visible at all times, unlike the other text commenting tools such as the Note and Text Edit tools, which have disappearing text field windows .

Adding Graphic Comments With the Stamp Tool

You can also add graphic comments, either from a built-in set of graphics or from a graphic you make. Use the Stamp tool to add a comment with a built-in graphic:

  1. Click the down-arrow next to the Stamp tool, and use the menu and category submenus to choose a stamp, as shown in Figure 9.10.

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    Figure 9.10: Left, choosing a graphic stamp from the Stamp Tool menu; right, the stamped page

  2. With the stamp icon that appears as your cursor, click where you would like to place the stamp on the PDF document page. The stamp will appear where you place it.

    Two of the Stamp tool categories have special features:

Dynamic (time/date) stamps These preset graphic stamps include your name and the time and date of your stamping action (they re called Dynamic stamps to indicate their time-sensitive nature). The five Dynamic stamps read Approved, Confidential, Received, Reviewed, and Revised.

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Sign Here stamps These stamps make it easy to sign a document graphically in some standard formats; they read Rejected, Accepted, Initial Here, Sign Here, and Witness. When you stamp with one of these tools, you can initial or sign the document by double-clicking the stamped comment with the Hand tool (keyboard shortcut H), as shown in Figure 9.11.

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Figure 9.11: Opening an Initial Here comment on a page

Creating and Using Custom Graphic Stamps

You can easily create and use your own graphic stamps, and here s how:

  1. Prepare a graphic that you would like to use as a PDF stamp, and save it as a one-page PDF file.


    It is a good idea to create your custom stamps at close to the size you will be using them, to reduce the size of the stamp file.

  2. From the Stamp Tool menu, choose Create Custom Stamp.

  3. Click the Select button. In the Select dialog, browse to the PDF file you would like to use as your custom stamp; then click OK to return to the Create Stamp dialog.

  4. Choose or create a Category for your new graphic stamp to appear under in menus . (In Figure 9.12, I ve created a category called Taz Business.)

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    Figure 9.12: Identifying and selecting a custom graphic stamp


    If you intend to use many custom graphic stamps, it is a good idea to organize your custom stamps into logical categories (such as Logos, Faces, Hand Signals, etc.) to make finding and using your stamps faster and easier.

  5. Name your custom stamp.

  6. Click OK. This will add your new custom stamp (and a new custom stamp category if you created one) to the Stamp Tool menu, as shown in Figure 9.13.

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    Figure 9.13: The custom stamp added to the tool menu

Use your new stamp just like the built-in ones, as described in the preceding section. From the Stamp Tool menu , choose the category and then the stamp name. When your cursor changes to the stamp icon, click where you want to place the stamp graphic on the PDF document page.


Any custom graphic stamp you create can be used in any editable PDF document because the custom stamp is stored as a tool for Acrobat, not just for a specific document.

Adding Lines and Arrows to Your Comments

In some cases, it is helpful to be able to point at or link various comments and document elements. For instance, you may want to add arrows to link a comment text box with a specific location in a PDF document. To add arrow comments to a PDF, follow these steps:

  1. From the Advanced Commenting toolbar, choose the Arrow tool or Line tool.


    You can float the Drawing tools in their own toolbar by choosing Show Drawing Tools from the Drawing Tools menu.

  2. Click and drag arrows or lines from the object to which you would like to point to the comment text box.

  3. Select the Hand tool or press H, and click the arrow or line. A Line comment field will appear, allowing you add a text comment to your arrow.

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  4. Type in your comment, and hit the Enter key to complete the line/arrow commenting process.

Adding Shapes to Your Comments

In some cases you may want to make a comment about a general area of a document, such as suggesting the addition of a graphic in a general area rather than a specific location. Acrobat offers a variety of tools to allow you to do this, including several shape tools and a Pencil tool (both in the Advanced Commenting tool set). Here we will use the Cloud tool (new in Acrobat 6) to demonstrate their use. To designate an area follow this process:

  1. Select the Cloud tool from the Drawing tools.

  2. Using a series of clicks and drags , draw around the area you would like to include.

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  3. Double-click when you get to the end of the area selection to complete the selection. A cloud shape will appear around the selected area.

  4. Select the Hand tool or press H, and click any part of the edge of the shape. A Polygon comment field will appear, allowing you add a text comment to your shape.

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    The Polygon tools and Pencil tool work in much the same fashion as the Cloud tool. The Pencil tool even allows you to erase sections you don t want. Use the area-selection tool that best suits your needs.

Adding Sound Comments

Sound based comments can also be added to a PDF. The Sound Comment too allows you to either record your own message on-the-fly or attach a sound file. Select this tool and click the spot where you would like to place the comment icon; the Record Sound dialog appears.

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To use a previously recorded sound file, click Choose to locate the file. Unlike the Add Media button (covered later in this chapter), a sound file added to a PDF with the Sound Comment tool cannot be compressed. If you try to add the FireIceSong.aif file provided on the CD with the Sound Comment tool, you will get the error message: Only uncompressed WAVs or AIFFs are importable.

To record your voice or other sound on-the-fly, click Record. When you are through recording, click Stop. You can click the Play button to play back your recording.

Once you have finished recording, click OK to complete the creation of the sound comment. A small speaker icon will be added to the PDF document page at the point where you initially clicked with the Sound Comment tool. Once created, a sound comment will be added to the Comments tab just like any other comment but with a small speaker icon.

This sound can then be played back by double-clicking its icon on the PDF document page with the Hand tool.

Moving, Deleting, Resizing, or Editing Comments

To select a comment for either moving or deleting, simply click once on the comment symbol with the Item tool (press R). This will select the comment and, if appropriate to the comment, open a note window. Then do one of the following:

  • To move the comment, click and drag it.

  • To delete the comment, simply hit the Delete key.

  • To resize a stamp comment, click and drag the control points along the edges of the graphic.

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  • To edit the text of the comment, click in the note window.

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    Hand Tool vs. Item Tool

    If you select a comment, such as a graphic comment with a text field, and the text field is visible but not editable, you probably have the Item tool rather than the Text tool selected. If you want to edit the copy in a comment text field, make sure you have the Hand tool selected. Remember that you can switch back and forth between the Hand tool and the Item tool by typing H and R .

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Setting Commenting Preferences

Once you have worked with the Commenting tools for a while, you will get a feel for how they work and how you would like them to behave. Then you might want to set your Commenting tool Preferences and Properties to fine-tune them to work the way you want them to. (Some of these Preference settings won t make any sense until you have used the Commenting tools a bit, which is why I m bringing them up at the end of the Commenting section rather than the beginning.)

When you set the Commenting Preferences, you are making adjustments that affect all comments. To use the global Commenting Preferences, choose File/Acrobat > Preferences, and select Commenting from the list on the left side of the window (Figure 9.14). There are quite a few Preferences, many of which are self evident, but I will review a few key ones here:

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Figure 9.14: The Commenting Preferences

Font Set a font size that is appropriate for your audience. If you know that there are folks over the age of 16 who will be looking at these comments on screen, don t select Small.

Pop-up Opacity Set a value that suits you, but anything below 50 percent is typically hard to read.

Automatically Open Pop-ups On Mouse Rollover Turn this option on if you want to see text comments pop up as you move your mouse around. This can be a benefit if you are doing a quick overview, but it can also drive you crazy if you are in the process of adding rather than reviewing comments. So it is one that I turn on and off to suit my current work mode.

Popup Open Behavior check boxes As with the preceding Automatically open option, I often like to have these turned on when I am reviewing and turned off when I am creating comments.

Copy Selected Text Into Highlight, Cross-Out, And Underline Comment Pop-ups I like to turn this one on, so that any text that I select with a Highlighting tool will automatically be included in the text edit field if I choose to use one. This saves me typing time, and I can quickly delete any copy I don t want.

Setting Comment Tool Properties

In addition to setting overall or global Commenting Preferences, you can adjust each tool separately and even each comment separately.

To access the properties of a specific tool, do one of the following:

  • Choose Advanced Commenting > Properties Bar.

  • Right-click/Control+click the tool in the toolbar and choose Properties Bar.

  • Press /Ctrl+E.

The tool s Properties bar appears on screen. This bar is context-sensitive: Its contents change depending upon which tool is selected. The name of the tool is listed at the top of the Properties bar. Select the property you would like to adjust and click that portion of the Properties toolbar.

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Setting Properties for Individual Comments

To access the properties of an individual comment, right-click/Control+click the comment and choose Properties from the context menu (Figure 9.15). A Properties dialog will appear, allowing you to set up that specific comment to suit your needs.

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Figure 9.15: Accessing the properties for a Commenting tool

Here again the properties you see will depend upon the type of comment you have selected. A Line Properties dialog has many more settings than a Cross-Out Properties dialog, for example.


I use these individual comment properties quite frequently when I am working with lines and polygons to control colors, line weights, and transparency.

Viewing and Navigating Comments

Once you have created comments you can use them in a wide variety of ways. Comments can be viewed , organized, summarized, and shared.

Comments can, of course, be viewed by simply looking for them as you navigate through the document panel, but you might find using the Comments tab handy and faster. Here s how:

  1. Open the PDF document that contains comments you would like to view. I m using the Chapter 8 document ( Chapter8SampleCommented.pdf ) to which we added comments in the earlier sections of this chapter.

  2. Click the Comments tab, located to the left of the Document pane. A pane will appear below the Document pane listing the pages that contain comments.

  3. If you remain in this view, you can drag the bar between the panes to resize the Comments and Document panes.

  4. I usually find this default arrangement, with the document on top and comments on the bottom, to be a bit awkward , so I like to separate the two. To do so, drag the Comments tab until it separates from the Document pane, as in Figure 9.16.

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    Figure 9.16: Floating the Comments pane

Here are some ways to navigate the Comments tab:

  • To view the comments on a particular page, click the + sign located to the left of the page number (here, the Page 1 comments are expanded and the Page 2 comments are collapsed). A list of the comments on that page will appear, and the + sign becomes a “ sign.

  • To activate a comment, click its text in the Comments tab. Both the comment in the Comments tab and the comment in the Document pane will be located and highlighted. In the figure, the For Comment stamp at the top of the page is activated.

  • To view the details of a comment, click the + sign to the left of the comment.

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  • To move from one comment to the next in order, press the Up and Down arrow keys on your keyboard.

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    Comments as Bookmarks

    Comments serve not only as tools for commenting but as simple bookmarks as well. Whenever you click a comment in the Comments tab, Acrobat will automatically take you to the page where that comment exists and will display and select that comment in the Document pane.

    Comments, however, do not provide the zoom-view capabilities that the regular bookmarks do. But bookmarks and comments can be used in concert to draw attention to an item of interest. If you think that a zoom view is important, feel free to create and place a zoomed-in bookmark in addition to your comment in the Document pane. In this way a reader could navigate to the zoomed in view using the Bookmarks tab, and then read the comment from there.

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Managing Comments

As you review comments made by someone else, you may want to sort or filter the comments, track the status of those you have viewed, mark up a comment, make your own remarks to a specific comment, or summarize all the comments.

Sorting comments The default sorting mechanism is by page. To sort the comments in a document by another order, click the Sort icon in the comments panel and choose another sort mechanism. When several people are working on a document, I often like to sort by Author so that I can easily review all of the comments by a particular person together.

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Filtering comments With collaborative projects with multiple authors and reviewers, the sheer volume of the comments can get a bit overwhelming and tedious to slog through. Filtering allows you to limit the display of the comments you see on screen at any one time. Click the Filter icon and select your preferred filtering mechanism(s) (many of the filtering selections offer subsets of choices). I often like to sort by Reviewer so that I can see just one set of comments at a time.

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Acrobat tracks the date and time when many of the following comment events occur.

Marking comments as reviewed Particularly when you have many comments from multiple authors, and you know it will require more than one session to review them all, it s handy to be able to place a simple check mark on the comments you have seen. Select the comment to be checked, then click the check box icon in the Comments pane toolbar or check the box next to the comment itself.

Setting the status of comments Keeping track of how a comment has been received and treated is much easier in Acrobat 6. Simply click the status icon and choose a status, which will be noted under that comment in the list.


Once you begin assigning status to comments, you can also sort and filter by status.

Remarking on others comments In addition to managing your own comments (covered in detail earlier in this chapter), you can make return remarks on someone else s comments. Simply select the comment from the list, click the remark icon , and then type your remark in the field that appears under the comment. The remark will appear next to the name of the author making the remark. Here I have remarked on my own comment and decided to agree with myself !

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Spell-checking comments Prior to sharing or exporting comments, you may want to spell-check them. To do this, choose Edit > Check Spelling > In Comments And Form Fields. The Check Spelling window will appear; click the Start button.

Sharing Comments

Comments can not only be created and manipulated in various ways, as we have seen in the preceding sections, but they can be shared as well. The four most common methods of sharing comments are as follows :

  • Share the entire commented PDF document

  • Summarize comments and send those around

  • Import and export comments

  • E-mail and web collaboration

You can simply send around the entire commented PDF document as an e-mail attachment or place it on a web page or FTP site for others to download. Although this is perhaps the easiest way to share comments, it is not always the best way. Complete PDF documents are typically much larger than either the comment summaries or exported comment data ”plus the whole document will not have the benefit of the organization or brevity provided by the summary.


As I ve said elsewhere in the book, PDF documents are by their very nature Internet-safe ”that is, made to be sent around the Internet. However, sometimes even PDF files get corrupted in transit. If this happens, consider compressing them in ZIP or SIT archives (and ensure that your recipients have the unzip or unstuff application that will open your archives).

Summarizing Comments

It is often handy to be able to create a summary of all of the comments in a document for a simplified review, form printing, or sharing comments with someone else. A summary will nearly always be smaller than the entire PDF document but contain all the comment data and information.

To build a summary, click the Options menu in the Comments tab and choose Summarize Comments. A Summarize Options dialog appears (Figure 9.17).

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Figure 9.17: Options for a comment summary

Choose A Layout Select what you would like included in your comment summary. Acrobat 6 allows you to create a text summary of just the comments, or you can include a view of the PDF document pages as well as the comments. If you choose to include a view of the document pages, you can also include lines linking the comment text to the comment locations in the document pages. You can separate your comment summary and document view on different pages or keep them on the same page.

Sort Comments By Select how you would like to have comments sorted in your summary: by Author, Date, Page, or Type.

Include Select which comments you would like to have included in the summary.

Font Size Select the size of the font you would like to be used in the text summary.

Click OK to initiate the creation of the comment summary. A new PDF document containing your comment summary will be created. Figure 9.18 shows an example summary configured with the text summary and the linked document view on the same page.

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Figure 9.18: A comment summary,set up to show connector lines on single pages
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Single-Page vs. Separate-Page Summaries

If you intend to print your summary and want to include the document page, I suggest that you consider creating single pages summaries so that the comments and document view will print together. If, on the other hand, you intend to review these summaries on screen, then I suggest that the separate pages will serve you better, because Acrobat will display the related document view and text summaries on facing pages. The text will be larger in the separate pages and therefore much easier to read on screen, and the separate pages will always be tighter in the document.

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Exporting Comment Data

The lightest (smallest file-size) way to share comment data is by exporting your PDF document comments to someone else who will then import them into their copy of the PDF document. Exported comment data uses a very small file that can be quickly and easily shared with another person. Here is how it works:

  1. Initially send a copy of the PDF document to be reviewed to all those who will be participating in the collaboration.

  2. From the list of comments in the comments panel, select the comments you would like to share.

  3. At the top of the comments panel, select Options > Export Select Comments. An Export Comments dialog appears (it looks much like a standard Save dialog).

  4. Browse to where you want to save your exported comments, and click Save. Your comments will be exported as an .fdf file, which is the forms data format in which any forms or comment data are exported from Acrobat.

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  5. Send this .fdf file to the other folks in your group whom you want to see this comment data, and tell them to follow the instructions under Importing Comment Data (next).

Importing Comment Data

Once comment data has been exported from a PDF document (see the preceding section), that data can easily be added into a PDF document for review and manipulation.

  1. Open your copy of the collaborative PDF document.

  2. At the top of the comments panel, select Options > Import Comments. An Import Comments dialog appears.

  3. Browse to the exported .fdf file that was sent to you.

  4. Click Open; the comments from the .fdf file will be added to your copy of the PDF.

You will now be able to view and manipulate the comments just as you would any other PDF comments.

Acrobat 6 and PDF Solutions
Acrobat 6 and PDF Solutions
ISBN: 0782142737
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2004
Pages: 102 © 2008-2017.
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