Sunday, February 6, 2011

Viewing and Printing PDF Comments

As I comment on your pieces from this past week, I'll be e-mailing them back to you as PDF documents.  Some of you have already received flattened PDF documents.  However, I've decided to send the full-scale annotated PDF documents instead.  If you have any trouble viewing these files, please read here for assistance.

Flattened vs Annotated: The Difference
Most PDF files you open are flattened documents - to simplify file viewing, none of the text can be edited.  If there are any comments on the file or if any of the text is highlighted, it is impossible to print the document without these mark-ups.  You also cannot change or edit these markups.  This is essentially a picture file, though you may be able to highlight and copy some of the text from the file.

An annotated PDF, on the other hand, has multiple layers of data.  Mark-ups on the document - comments, highlights, etc. - can still be edited, even using just a PDF reader.  In certain PDF readers and editors, you may be able to print the original document without the markups.  You cannot, however, edit the original document using a PDF reader - for that you will still need a PDF editor.

In the future, I'll e-mail annotated PDF files.  If, however, you have any trouble opening or reading these files, I can always send you a flattened file.

PDF Readers and Editors (aka "Why Can't I Edit This Darn PDF??")
You should have no problem opening PDF files using Adobe Reader, a free (and dependable) download from Adobe.  PDF files are a standard file format - chances are, you already have Adobe reader installed on your computer.  If you don't, you can download it here.

If you would like to edit the contents of a PDF file, you'll need a PDF editor.  The one editor I can endorse is Adobe Acrobat, but it is rather expensive (the academic version is well over $100 - the nonacademic currently version is $450).  There are, however, other PDF editors which are much cheaper.  If you find you do need a PDF editor, I recommend checking these out - just make sure to check the user reviews before installing one.


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