Annotate PDFs to Guide Student Readings
Students, particularly those new to a discipline, need to become skilled readers of texts in those disciplines. You can guide that process with annotations that might include pre-reading questions, highlighted terms, arguments, or theses, and embedded notes that support, explain, or question the text. Annotating helps students focus their attention and improve comprehension. Some might consider this doing the students’ work for them, but providing these examples helps them gain the literacy skills they need while modeling a practice they should learn to do themselves.
NOTE: Because of accessibility concerns, we don’t advise using audio or drawing annotations because some students may not be able to hear or see them, respectively.
How do you annotate?
- Adobe Reader or Adobe Pro (for Mac or Windows)
The Adobe annotation tool suite varies depending on your platform (Windows or Mac) and version. These resources provide a general view of the process, though the exact options and steps in your version may be slightly different.
- Adobe Acrobat Reader DC or Acrobat 2017: Use Annotation and Drawing Markup Tools to Add Comments in PDFs
- Adobe Acrobat XI: Annotations and Drawing Markup Tools
- Adobe Acrobat Pro X: The Basics of Commenting (Video opens in new window)
- Mac: Preview
- iPad, iPhone and other mobile devices: PDF Annotation Tools
What will students need in order to read the annotations?
- Windows/Mac: Adobe Reader
- Mac: Preview
- Pre-installed on all Macs
Why (and how) should students learn to annotate?
- Annotating to Support Learning in the Content Areas: Teaching and Learning Science (PDF link)
(Jolene Zywica and Kimberley Gomez)
- I’ll Have Mine Annotated, Please: Helping Students Make Connections with Texts (PDF link)
(Matthew D. Brown)
- Asking Students to Annotate Their Own Papers (PDF link)
(James P. Beck)