Monday, July 1, 2013

Annotating Documents with the Surface Pro tablet and pen

One of the great things that sets Windows Tablet PCs apart from their tablet counterparts is how the digital pen and Windows digital ink can be used to annotate documents. Notice that I’m calling it a pen with digital ink and not a stylus with line drawings (there’s a difference). In this post, I’ll show many ways for you to easily annotate documents with the Pen using Office on the desktop, or using Metro applications. (click on the images for larger versions).

 

First let’s start with Word, and it’s pen-friendly ability to use digital ink in the Word document. Windows and Office have been ink-friendly for years, and Word 2013 is no exception:

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You can also use your Pen with the standard Comment functions that are found in the Review tab of Word. The advantage is that you now have your comments neatly tucked away in collapsible boxes in the margins, which can be hidden/shown with the “Show Comments” button:

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If you don’t like that, you could send your document to OneNote for annotations. Although it’s now no longer a standalone document, here are some of the Pro’s to doing it this way:

  • you gain an ‘infinite’ amount of margin space
  • You’re not tied to a small comment box
  • Notice the incorporation of Tags and/or Outlook Tasks alongside one my notes
  • You can also annotate with your OneNote MX (ie Metro version) as well

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Lastly, the Reader app in Windows 8 (Metro) allows you to annotate with the Pen directly on most PDF documents. The advantage could be that since the Reader app is usually the default PDF viewer in Windows 8, the fact that your PDF opens and is automatically ready for your pen annotations (w/o even turning on Inking like you usually have to do in Word, or w/o Sending a document to OneNote). The downsides are

  • there are no margins for your annotations
  • currently you only get 1 pen color (black)
  • you don’t get pen-based highlighting (only finger/mouse highlighting):

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It’s worth noting that, as of Word 2013, you can also edit PDFs in Word as wells, if you’re willing to let it convert it.Of course, results may vary in terms of formatting, etc, as the dialog box clearly warns:

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Again, there are plenty of 3rd-party Metro and Desktop applications that can be used for this purpose. But these are techniques you can use with software that you probably already have installed on your device. What other techniques do you use?

13 comments:

  1. Hi, thank you for your blog dedicated to Surface Pro! I'm starting to dig through all of your postings :)

    Do you know iAnnotate from the iOS or Android plattform? I migrated (only halfway true, right know I'm using both) from iPad 3 to Surface Pro 2 and I'm missing a decent annotation (modern-UI) App for reading and annotating PDF documents. Basically I want to highlight text, search it, stamp important paragraphs with custom-made symbols (i.e. "!", "?", "ToDo") and annotate with ink, i.e. using the surface pro pen while navigating and pinch-zooming with my fingers.
    Do you have any ideas?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You can try Annotate101 app on your Surface Pro - http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/en-us/app/annotate101/a8c958fd-2248-499f-96ba-647fbafc4ef3 (or this shortcut URL - http://qr.net/ann) to experience the Rich PDF Annotation capabilities like Highlighting, Free Hand Annotation, Signature, Compare Sid-by-Side PDF, Bookmarks and much more. It also has extra features like full integration with Microsoft SharePoint 2010/2013/Online, DropBox, OneDrive, OneDrive For Business, Box, Evernote and much more.

      Delete
  2. I believe there's a Win8 app called PDFTouch that does what you want. Also, there's a Windows [desktop] app called PDFAnnotator that I used to use that also does that stuff. Both have a cost.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks for your quick reply. Unfortunately, from what I read in the store, PDFTouch is not optimized for pen-only input. Right now I'm digging through this huge thread on TabletPCreview: http://forum.tabletpcreview.com/windows-8/52777-best-pdf-annotation-program-windows-store.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You can try Annotate101 app on your Surface Pro - http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/en-us/app/annotate101/a8c958fd-2248-499f-96ba-647fbafc4ef3 (or this shortcut URL - http://qr.net/ann) to experience the Rich PDF Annotation capabilities like Highlighting, Free Hand Annotation, Signature, Compare Sid-by-Side PDF, Bookmarks and much more. It also has extra features like full integration with Microsoft SharePoint 2010/2013/Online, DropBox, OneDrive, OneDrive For Business, Box, Evernote and much more.

      Delete
  4. Similarly for creating a document. Surface Pro 2 lags my Galaxy, whose keyboard lets me choose handwriting recognition, voice recognition, or Swyping seamlessly. On 8.1 this stuff is AWKWARD.

    ReplyDelete
  5. You can try Annotate101 app on your Surface Pro (http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/en-us/app/annotate101/a8c958fd-2248-499f-96ba-647fbafc4ef3) to experience the Rich PDF Annotation capabilities like Highlighting, Free Hand Annotation, Signature, Compare Sid-by-Side PDF, Bookmarks and much more. It also has extra features like full integration with Microsoft SharePoint 2010/2013/Online, DropBox, OneDrive, OneDrive For Business, Box, Evernote and much more.

    ReplyDelete
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  7. I was able to open a PDF on my Surface Pro 3 and add notes/comments and save it. When I tried to open the next day and add additional comments I was unable. Pen works in OneNote but I was unable to edit the saved document. Is there something that I am missing?

    ReplyDelete
  8. Similarly for creating a document. Surface Pro 2 lags my Galaxy, whose keyboard lets me choose handwriting recognition, voice recognition, or Swyping seamlessly. On 8.1 this stuff is AWKWARD.

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  9. Very well said. These tips are really amazing. I appreciate it for sharing them.


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