Using the PDF Markup Comments List: One User’s Experience

I am very pleased to release the first guest post on this blog, by my colleague Dawn Hunter, a freelance editor and a multi award-winning author.

I [Dawn] use Acrobat’s markup tools, but I don’t use the Summarize Comments function, and neither do the formatters I work with. I have to say it is a neat function and I appreciate Adrienne’s showing it to me.

What we use is the Show Comments List. You can open it by clicking the icon that looks like two speech bubbles on the left of your screen.

The comment bubble on the left side of the screen will reveal the comment list pane below your PDF. 

The Show Comments List has many functions within it to make checking changes easier. You can sort changes by type, page, author, date, colour, and check status. You can summarize comments and even export them to Word. You can add a reply to a comment that will appear with the comment and show up inside the sticky note in the text. Of course, you can do that inside any sticky note while in the document too.

Add a reply to a comment automatically, from within the comment list.

When I am reviewing a document, I click the text box beside a change in the Show Comments List, and that takes me to the place in the document where the change appears. Even better, it highlights the change with a flashing dotted outline. That solves the problem of the deletion of a single letter being missed–you don’t have to scan to find a tiny red line because you are taken to its location. It isn’t an issue.

Each comment is linked to a little blue line in the document, that flashes when that change/comment is selected.

The Show Comments List also provides a little check box. Once I verify a change has been made, I can check it off and keep track. The formatters can do the same; once they make a requested change, they can check the box. At the end of my review, I can sort the comments by Checkmark Status and see if I have missed reviewing any changes.

Keep track of what changes have been made, using the handy check box in the comment list.

The Markup Tools offer some other useful features. If I make a change, I can make the text bold, italic, superscript, and so on.

Instructions for the formatter can be added in the comment pop-up that goes with each mark. You can even format that text.

Typically, I add some instructions for the formatter when I make certain kinds of changes.

Additional instructions to the formatter can be provided in the comment box, set apart by typical "note" characters such as [, <, or [[.

Using popup notes helps to keep the Show Comments pane uncluttered.

Right click on a mark, or hover over a mark to reveal the popup comment box.


same PDF markup comment shown in list

For me, using the markup tools has become very quick and easy. I keep the ones I use the most on a separate toolbar to save some drilling down.


Thanks again to Dawn for introducing me to the edit tools, and for taking the time to show us all how to use the comments list and the check boxes they come with. More on customizing toolbars and other shortcuts coming a future post.


This post and the one with step-by-step instruction on marking up PDFs are the most useful posts in the PDF mark-up series.

Though the first post on basic mark-up, which mentions stamps, is by far the most wildly popular in the whole series.

There’s also a post that examines Acrobat’s own text editing tools, and a new video demo of making and importing custom proofreader stamps.

You’ll also be interested in a much newer post reviewing four low-cost alternatives to Acrobat that will, nonetheless, let you do all of this markup.


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