10 Essential Tips for PDF Comments

When you have to communicate with colleagues about the content in a PDF, it’s much more efficient to put comments in the PDF itself rather than in an email or elsewhere. So here are ten essential tips for working with PDF comments in Adobe Acrobat or Reader.

1. To indicate text edits, you can use the annotation tools (click Comment in the Toolbar, then Annotations). Or simply use the Select tool to select some text, and right-click and choose the kind of annotation you want to add from the menu at your cursor.

Right click to add a comment

2. Hover your cursor over a comment to reveal a tooltip with the contents and author.

Hover cursor over a comment to reveal it

3. If Adobe Reader users are unable to add comments to a PDF, you can enable commenting for them by saving the file as a Reader Extended PDF. In Acrobat XI, choose File > Save As Other > Reader Extended PDF > Enable Commenting and Measuring.

Save As Reader Extended PDF

4. To reply to a comment, delete it, or set a status like accepted, rejected, or completed, right-click on the comment and choose from the menu at your cursor.

Right click to set the status of a comment


5. Display the Comments List by clicking Comment in the Toolbar.

Comment List

In the list you can search comments for specific words, sort comments by type, page, author, date, or status.

Comment List


6. You can print a summary page of comments along with a document by choosing Print With Comment Summary from the Options in the Comments List, or click on Summarize Comments in the Print dialog box.

Summarize Comments 

7. You can create a new document with visible comments by choosing Create Comment Summary from the Options in the Comments List. Summarized comments can be on the same page or separate pages, and they can be linked to the original document content with numbers or lines.

 Comment Summary

8. You can import and export comments from documents using Forms Data Format (FDF) files. These files can’t be opened or viewed by themselves; they can only be used with a PDF. Sharing comments via FDF can be especially useful when working with a large PDF that you don’t want to send around. To export comments in an FDF file, choose Export All to Data File from the Comments List Options. Use the same menu to import FDF files, or just double-click the FDF file and then select the matching PDF.

 Export FDF

9. You can group Drawing Markups, to move them in unison and to make them appear as a single item in the Comments List. With the Select tool, Command/Ctrl+click on each markup to select them all. Then right-click and choose Group from the menu at your cursor.

Grouping mark ups


10. You can apply stamps to PDFs via the Stamp tool. Press J to apply the current stamp. To select a different stamp, click on Comment > Annotations and then the Stamp tool. Then you can select one of the pre-made stamps, or add your own custom stamp from a PDF, JPEG, PNG, AI, or PSD file. Note that Reader can only create custom stamps from PDFs.

Custom Stamps

Posted on: June 11, 2013

Mike Rankin

Mike is the Editor in Chief of InDesignSecrets.com, InDesign Magazine, and CreativePro.com. He is also the author of several lynda.com video training series, including Font Management Essential Training, InDesign FX, and InDesign CC: Interactive Document Fundamentals.

4 Comments on 10 Essential Tips for PDF Comments

  1. Great list! I didn’t know you could choose Reply from the right-click menu. That will make life easier. Also, “Grouping” mark-up … neat! If there were an AcrobatSecrets podcast, “Group” would make an awesome obscure feature of the week-eek-eek.

  2. Thanks! The grouping one was my favorites since it cleans up the comments list and makes it show the right number of comments.

  3. Yes — I’ve been PDF-reviewing for a long time, and didn’t know about Group. That will be great for my style of editing (as would having multiple instance of various comment-tool icons, with different settings, all at the same time in the toolbar, if anyone’s listening on the Acrobat team…).

  4. Another tip: most text markups and the sticky note comments can be imported back into Word, FrameMaker, and InDesign* with track changes turned on. When combined with a Review cycle, this can be a big time saver.

    *InDesign requires third-party plugin from DTP Tools.

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