Sample Chapter from "Adobe Acrobat 6: The Professional User's Guide"
Book by Donna Baker and Tom Carson, published by Apress

22 January 2004

Acrobat 6 Pro User's Guide

With permission of authors Donna Baker and Tom Carson, and publisher Apress, we're pleased to offer a sample chapter from the book "Adobe Acrobat 6: The Professional User's Guide."

Chapter 5 is titled "Commenting and Advanced Editing Tools," and includes several related projects -- with links to necessary files provided. See the book's Table of Contents, and enter our promotional contest for a chance to win one of eight free copies of the book.

Copyright 2004 Apress (

Chapter 5: Commenting and Advanced Editing Tools

INTRO: In the new task-oriented Acrobat world, tools are separated into Review & Commenting tools and Advanced Editing tools. In this chapter you'll work with the tools and look at the new functionality. There have been some exciting changes based on the input of interface experts and cranky old users alike.

Examining the Tools of the Trade

Comments in Acrobat are equivalent to the notes scribbled on margins and the doodles and arrows you see as a paper document makes the rounds. Comments can take a variety of forms, depending on a number of factors:

  • Your mood

  • The toolbars you have opened

  • Your method of working and communicating

  • Any corporate policies or procedures you may be bound to

In addition to attaching notes or comments to a document, you can include images or sound files. One interesting feature you'll be looking at in an upcoming chapter is the ability to import and export comments. As you'll see, this is a handy, space- and time-saving feature.

Acrobat 6.0 groups the tools into Commenting, Advanced Commenting, and Review Functions. You'll look at the Commenting and Advanced Commenting tools here.

Commenting Tools

There are several Commenting tools, including the Note tool (electronic sticky notes), Text Edit tools, Highlighting tools, and Stamp tools. Click the Review & Comment Task button, and open the Commenting toolbar, as shown in Figure 5-1. The Stamp tools have dynamically generated stamps with login name and date. Before we get into specifics, here are some general commenting concepts:

  • Comments can be customized

  • Comments can be used to navigate through a document

  • Comments can be imported and exported

Figure 5-1

Figure 5-1: A collection of different types of comments are grouped together on the Commenting toolbar.

In other words, when it comes to workflow, comments are a good way to organize your work.

Adding a Note

In Figure 5-2, a simple text comment is added to a page. The color bar and the icon for the note are yellow. Adding a comment is like inserting any type of object. Select the Note tool and click the document page where you want to add the note. To deselect the Note tool, click the Hand tool (on the Basic toolbar), or select another tool or function.

NOTE: You can double-click a comment to open a Note box.

 Figure 5-2

Figure 5-2: A simple text comment on a page. Note that the text box is semitransparent.

Comment properties can be modified at any time. Suppose you're in a lavender mood. Right-click the Text Comment icon (the dark overlay on the icon indicates that it's selected), and select Properties from the context menu. The Note Properties dialog box shown in Figure 5-3 opens. Change the color and opacity as desired. Click Close and your new color is ready for use.

Acrobat 6.0 has totally changed the philosophy behind the simple Note tool. The note takes the appearance of its intended comment function. If the comment is intended to be a key idea, the icon for the comment can become a key, like that shown in Figure 5-4.

Figure 5-3

Figure 5-3: Customize a note in the Note Properties dialog box.

NOTE: Your mood is set once. That means once you've specified a color scheme, all the insertion icons will change to the same color. Subsequent insertions will also be the same color, until you change the scheme again.

Figure 5-4

Figure 5-4: Using a key icon to specify a note's purpose.

The opacity is also easier to set. Instead of having to reset the opacity in the Comments preferences, opacity is right there on the Properties dialog box. The author can also be reset under this section for computers with unusual login names like administrator.

Let's have a look at the other types of commenting that can be added. This discussion doesn't describe how to create and modify each of the types in depth, rather the discussion on notes can be applied to most of the other types as well, with a couple of exceptions. Remember that you can access any customizations by right-clicking and opening the context menu.

Using the Text Editing Tools

TIP: In the Real World, Would Custom Colors Ever Be Used?

Absolutely. There's more to this than a visual expression of mood! A good example: Suppose you're a member of a multidisciplinary project team. One way to coordinate processes is to color-coordinate the members. For example, database people may be coded yellow, programmers red, writers blue, program managers green, and so on.

Editors love these new features. Text editing has numerous new features that import into Word XP and will apply the selected Text Edit commands. Figure 5-5 lists the options for text editing. You can use File > Export Comments to Word or Document > Export Comments to Word to export comments.

Text Editing tools are somewhat passive. You select the area or text first and then select the action.

Figure 5-5

Figure 5-5: Use the Text Editing options to mark up a document for exporting comments.

Highlighting with Text Highlighting Tools

The three Text Highlighting tools are essentially the same as their counterparts under Text Edits. The highlighting tools are like your college teacher with a red pen. Select the tool then start the action.

After you've zapped a line of text with a Highlighting tool, you can add a note. Right-click the highlighted text and choose Properties to add a note to the comment. The Text Highlighting tools are described in Table 2-1 and shown in Figure 5-6. Also in the figure, you can see the Strikethrough tool in action and the highlighting of the I to show it requires caps.

NOTE: Highlighting tools work in an opposite fashion to the Text Edit tools. Select the tool first, and then select the text.

Figure 5-6

Figure 5-6: Text highlighting -- just like in college.

Which Tool to Choose?

Some of the tools on one toolbar look strangely like the same tool with the same name on another toolbar. For example, highlighting appears both on its own toolbar and on the Text Edit toolbar. If you want to point something out in a PDF document, use the Highlighting tool on the Highlighting toolbar. If you want the highlight exported to a source document created in Word XP, use the Highlight Selected Text on the Text Edit toolbar. The same differentiation applies to the Strikethrough and Underline tools.

CONTINUED in Part 2 of 4


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