Friday, 25 January 2013

How to annotate PDF's in Ubuntu?

According to me, there is no particular application in Ubuntu that annotates PDF's well, or at least, as well as Nitro PDF reader or Adobe Reader's Professional version. Because of this reason, I had to keep switching to Windows whenever I wanted to read and annotate PDF's, which is the common source of learning material in college. Annotations formed a very important part of reading as marking the important lines for further reading were essential, which would otherwise lead me to constant searching of certain important points.

However, recently, courtesy a good read, I found a very useful tool in evince, the default PDF reader in Ubuntu, which could annotate PDF's albeit involving some laborious tasks.

There is a little drop-down menu "Thumbnails" at the top-left corner of evince, when you open a PDF in it. Click on the arrow besides it. You should see the "Annotations" option that appears in the list just appeared.

Next, click on "Add" that has appeared now, which may give you a small icon with a "pencil" image over it. Click on the "pencil", and move the cursor over the reading region, which would change the pointer to a "cross-signed" cursor. Now click where you want to add a note. A yellow-colored mark-up should appear accompanied by a note that can be edited below it. You may not be able to type on it, unless you try to resize it by clicking on its lower corners and resize it to a different size.
If you don't seen the "Thumbnails" drop-down menu, click on "View" on the menu bar and then on "Sidepane". (Thanks to John McCreesh for pointing this out in the comments).

Unfortunately, even after this arduous and tedious toil, you may only be able to type in lemon yellow colored font, which for-the-moment seems to be immutable.

I'll surely try to find a better alternative to this, before that, lets hope the evince authors write a better "annotator".

P.S.: There are some other PDF readers which you may want to try out:
1) Okular: a light-weight PDF reader. This is a very compact reader, about 1.5 MB in size,(Adobe reader is more than 40 MB!, just for comparison) and allows simple configuration like full-screen reading, colour inversion, etc.

2) Xournal: Another light-weight application, specially designed for taking down hand-written notes but also allows PDF's to be read and annotated. Though not very useful for annotation, highlighting and mark-up tools are available, worth giving a try.