How You Can Use PDF Annotation to Improve Your Document Review Process

pdf annotation

As humans, we’re guilty of being creatures of habit. All too often, this shows itself in a tendency to stick to old-fashioned methods. 

At work, some great examples of this are our habits of printing things off and writing by hand. But these habits are massive blocks to efficiency, especially in a company-wide content review process

So, ditch the printer! In this article, we’ll be taking you through all the benefits of PDF annotation. 

What Is PDF Annotation? 

PDF annotation covers the addition of any extra text, graphics or objects to a PDF document. 

PDF annotation utilizes specialized software that allows users to make additions to a PDF. This is commonly used for leaving suggested changes on a PDF during a document review and approval process. 

Feedback could be added by inserting a text box onto the PDF, adding a sticky note to detail a comment about the asset, or enabling a number of reviewers using the software to annotate the file. In this way, users can highlight an error, suggest revisions or add comments, all in one document.

Which Features Do You Need to Annotate a PDF? 

In a PDF, the alignment of the text, images and content is all fixed in place. This makes it especially difficult to alter the content or add in any additions (as you would, for example, within a Word Document). 

So, specialized PDF annotation software is required in order to enable users to leave their feedback on a PDF document. This software allows users to make a comment, add an annotation and collaborate with others on the same file. 

There are a wide variety of providers of PDF annotation software on the market. These products provide users with a number of different annotation features to suit all manner of business operations. 

Common PDF annotation features include: 

  • A highlighter tool 
  • A comment tool 
  • Markup tools
  • Real-time collaboration, where users can discuss annotations online
  • A copy-and-paste tool for text
  • The ability to add virtual sticky notes 
  • A strikethrough text function 
  • A free drawing tool 
  • A bank of shapes – including arrows, lines and circles (which you can use to make it clear which area of the PDF your comment refers to). 
features of pdf annotation software

Rather than taking your PDF through a stream of confusing emails – during which suggested changes can be quickly lost, misinterpreted, or misapplied – PDF annotation software allows users to leave clear, well-organized feedback that is stored in one convenient and transparent place. 

The creator of the asset can clearly see what the comments are referring to and so efficiently incorporate all requested edits. 

4 Use Cases for PDF Annotation Software 

PDF annotation is a brilliantly simple process that can effectively be introduced into a wide variety of different teamwork tasks. In order to give you insight into the wide variety of ways that PDF annotation software can assist with your operations, we’ve detailed four common example situations for use of this tool below. 

Use Cases for PDF Annotation Software


Creating a new contract requires specific details on a lot of crucial points. It is essential that you get these right. Thankfully, PDF annotation software takes the stress out of this process. The creator of the contract can convert their draft to a PDF and send it to their colleagues. 

Colleagues can then add key comments to the file – these could include amending any incorrect details or filling in any gaps in content. This is a fantastic, extra-safe way to ensure that the contract is professional and precise. 


Getting feedback on a presentation can be a difficult process. This is because presentations contain many different elements, encompassing the textual and visual realms, and their ability to engage an audience. 

With PDF annotation, a draft presentation can be shared with a number of different colleagues who will provide their suggested changes on a specific area of the presentation, depending on their expertise. This way, the creator can receive notes about the design, annotations to the text, and feedback to keep the whole presentation brand-compliant. 

Marketing posters 

When leaving notes about a new marketing poster, it’s imperative that the reviewer be highly specific in their feedback. Often, suggestions made by annotation and markup will concern a very specific area or detail. 

PDF annotation allows these invested parties to use a box or other drawing tools to clearly pinpoint the exact feature to which they are referring. Then, they can add their comments onto the PDF document by using the software’s handy sticky notes. This gives teams the ability to annotate the document then discuss these comments. By doing so, they are undertaking document collaboration on a branded asset without the risk of miscommunication or confusion.  


Once implemented, guideline documents will apply to an extensive number of processes and individuals across the branding team. As such, it is essential that all invested parties are consulted, and that their feedback is considered, before the document is published. 

With PDF annotation software, users can easily ensure that draft guidelines are shared with a large number of individuals and that suggested changes are collected in an organized manner. By collecting all feedback in one document, you can also avoid receiving duplicate or contradictory feedback, since every reviewer can see and react to the comments that are already left in the document. 

Why Should You Use a Professional PDF Annotation Tool? 

If you tried to annotate a PDF without using a specialized tool, you would not be able to add your comments into the PDF in this way. 

Instead of successfully incorporating annotations into the file, reviewers would have to share their notes in an email and create separate documents containing a screenshot of the PDF and their feedback. Plus, the intelligent markup and drawing tools would be replaced by messy hand drawings on a printed PDF.  

As a result, you’d basically be going back to square one and undoing all the good that you set out to achieve with this process.   

The key benefits of professional PDF annotation software include: 

  • Easy to use and understand. 
  • Managers can create a strong collaborative workspace
  • It makes the document management process more sophisticated. 
  • PDF files are widely used and recognized – this software uses that to its advantage.
  • Accessible from anywhere, which is especially useful for remote teams. 
  • Works on any operating system (including Windows 10, Android or iOS devices).
  • Accessible on any kind of device (including computers, mobile phones, tablets, and even some gaming consoles).
  • Your PDF document is kept safe and secure. 

A professional PDF annotation tool will keep the entire process efficient and organized while enabling you to maintain strict version control and careful document management system as you easily share and collaborate on the PDF file across your team. 

5 PDF Annotation Software Solutions to Simplify Your Workflows 

As we mentioned above, the only way that you can achieve a slick, efficient and organized system of PDF annotation is with a professional tool. Below, you’ll find our recommendations for five of the best pieces of PDF annotation software on the market. 


filestage PDF Annotation Software Solution

Filestage is an innovative document review and approval tool that offers multiple features, including PDF annotation tools. With Filestage, reviewers can leave precise comments directly on the PDF file. 

Additionally, users can annotate with highlighting tools, shapes and a free drawing tool. The best part is that feedback can be discussed in real-time with other reviewers, eliminating misunderstandings and therefore saving a lot of time in the process. 

While the PDF document goes through the established review and approval process, the project manager can easily track the status of the file and can see whose feedback or approval is still pending. When the manager sets deadlines for files, each reviewer gets an automatic reminder to leave feedback or give approval in time. 

PDF Annotator 

pdf annotator PDF Annotation Software Solution

PDF Annotator is a tool that does exactly what it says in its name. With this piece of software, users can access PDFs on any device and then edit them in a wide variety of different ways. 

The software’s impressive toolbar provides the options of highlights, free drawing in a number of different colors, adding stamps or icons, inserting an additional blank page, uploading a photo, or signing it off. 

The document can then be displayed as part of an interactive presentation, thanks to PDF Annotator’s customized presentation mode. What’s more, edits can be viewed by anyone accessing the edited PDF document, regardless of whether or not they download the PDF Annotator program. 


Xodo PDF Annotation Software Solution

Xodo is an intuitive piece of PDF annotation software that makes it easy to edit a PDF. Amongst Xodo’s specialized features, users can quickly fill out PDF forms by typing directly into fill-in fields on the document. Using the same function, managers can directly sign a document in its PDF form without having to go through the hassle of printing and scanning the form. Simply click the free draw tool and add your signature to the file. Or, you can select your signature from a pre-saved image. 

Xodo also makes document version management easy. PDF files can be uploaded to either Dropbox or Google Drive directly from Xodo, ensuring that the latest version is automatically synced to the cloud after your edits. 

Wondershare PDFelement

wondershare pdf element PDF Annotation Software Solution

Wondershare PDFelement is a professional PDF annotation tool that makes collaborative edits across the team efficient and well-organized. This software allows marketing teams to manage their workflow, comment on drafts, and take new assets through the review process as quickly as possible. 

Alongside marketing teams, this tool can also be used for a variety of other functions, including sales, accounting, and even educational teams. Furthermore, Wondershare PDFelement supports PDF documents in more than ten different languages. 


GetLiner PDF Annotation Software Solution

GetLiner is a web-based PDF annotator that enables users to highlight and comment on PDFs without even having to exit their web browser. Alternatively, this software can also be accessed as a mobile app or as a dedicated browser extension. It is a slick and efficient tool, noted for its ease of use. 

Users can seamlessly add notes, annotations and comments to a PDF in GetLiner. Then, they can even categorize these additions by clicking on the comments then selecting a tag.

Get the Free PDF Annotation Software Checklist 

These tools all present users with great options to fulfill their PDF annotation needs. However, each piece of software offers its own unique range of functions and features. So, when it comes to deciding which tool to implement into your business, it would be wise to consider which features you would like to prioritize. 

To help you compare these different tools, we’ve created a thoroughly considered PDF annotation software checklist. With this checklist, you can easily compare the features of different tools what will help you select the right option for you.


The job of this comprehensive guide has been to fully answer the question posed in the title by explaining how you can use PDF annotation software to improve your document review process. As you can see, PDF annotation is a fantastic way to upgrade your way of working and fast forward your processes to the 21st century. 

It may sound simple, but when you take advantage of this software, you will see a boost in your team’s efficiency through less miscommunication and better collaboration while ensuring that your team members’ feedback won’t ever get lost in translation again.