Tips and tricks: marking up PDFs (March 2019)

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by Bridget Blair AE

PDF markup sm

In this digital age, when a manuscript is provided for proofreading in PDF form it can seem a laborious chore to print the pages out, mark them up by hand and then scan each page in order to return them – or worse, traipse down to the post office with a huge pile of paper.

There are a couple of approaches to marking up PDF files on screen, and it’s always best to check what the client is comfortable with before proceeding.

Adobe Acrobat (the most commonly used PDF program) has its own set of editing and commenting tools. Check out  for the complete list and instructions on how to find and use them on both PC and Mac. American editor Adrienne Montgomerie has put together a helpful video on using these tools:

But if you or your client prefer traditional proofreading marks, you can download a set of ‘stamps’ to use with Acrobat. For people who are familiar with them, proofreading marks can make it easier to quickly understand the changes required, compared to scrolling through the comments list when using Acrobat’s tools. A comprehensive set of stamps, along with instructions on installing and using, is available here:

Bridget Blair AE is a freelance editor and member of the communications subcommittee.