Using Acrobat for Summarizing Notes

Many textbooks, study guides and other teaching materials are available as PDF files for easy online distribution, searching and viewing. Students can not only view this content on their computers, but also mark up text they read online (or offline) using Acrobat’s “Highlighting” tool, available on the Commenting toolbar (Tools > Commenting > Show Commenting Toolbar is one way to find and open the toolbar).


Then using their mouse – or better yet, pen on a Tablet PC – highlight text in the color of their choice, just as they would do in the paper world. When saving the PDF, their highlights are preserved in the file for future study and reference.
Additionally, students can use the “Summarize Comments” feature in Acrobat to generate a new PDF of just the text that was highlighted: instant electronic study notes! To use this feature:
1. With the highlighted PDF open, choose the Comments > Summarize Comments… menu command.
2. In the Summarize Comments dialog box, make sure “Comments only” is selected. Click OK after reviewing the other options.
A new PDF will be generated with the highlighted text listed page-by-page.
Watch out though! Before using this capability, users must switch on a preference. Open the Acrobat Commenting preferences (Edit > Preferences on Windows or Acrobat > Preferences on Mac OS X), select the Commenting pane, and select “Copy selected text into Highlight, Cross-out, and Underline comment pop-ups.”
Happy Highlighting!

6 Responses to Using Acrobat for Summarizing Notes

  1. Liam Maher says:

    This was useful, thx

  2. Good tips !! Thanks.
    When using Comments in PDF I also love the possibility to send my comments via email :
    1. From Document > Comments > Export Comments, then I saving the file in fdf format and I’m ready to send it via email to share it with my clients !
    2. From the Commenting Toolbar click send and fill the Email dialog box

  3. Jeff says:

    Great tip thanks!

  4. Lilian says:

    But they cant copy and paste the information in their works.
    ALI’S REPLY: The text that ends up in the Summary report PDF that is generated can be copied and pasted/exported out. Obviously the ability to highlight text in the original document depends on what permissions are set on it.

  5. roger zach says:

    I use the summarize comments feature often and I’m frustrated with the latest version of Acrobat 7 professional and the way it prints my summarized comments – one page per comment. Is there a way to correct this?
    FROM ALI: Acrobat 7.0 will use a new page in the summary report for each new page in the commented document. So if you only have one comment on a page, then you will only have one comment listed on a page in the summary. try experimenting with the different report options from the Comments > Summarize Comments command. The resulting PDF report can always be saved and printed.

  6. jeremysnow says:

    how do I make a default? (in AA Pro 7.0)
    FROM ALI: You can set the Page Layout Default in the Acrobat 7.0 Preferences, under the Page Display pane. Or you can set a document to always open as continuous pages by setting the option under the Initial View tab of the Document Properties.