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September 26, 2009

Shared Reviews with Secured Documents

One of my conference sessions at the Acrobat and PDF Central Conference 2009 was on Extending Features in Adobe Reader (the presentation for that session will be posted soon). In that session, I discussed the importance of the “file preparation order” in Acrobat 9 Pro or Pro Extended for shared reviews with PDF documents that also need to be encrypted or certified.

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August 24, 2009

Tip: Don’t Double-Up On Your PDF Comments, Double-Click Instead!

Donna Baker posted an important tip to her AcroFacts blog about adding comments to PDF files:

Do you add comments like highlights or ovals, and then add a sticky note comment to explain the first comment? You don’t have to double up the comments like that. Instead, double-click the comment on the page to open a popup note, and type your message. Your users see a miniature comment talk balloon over the comment, indicating there’s an attached message.

It’s a matter of personal preference, but if you want to get your message across in the comments you add to a PDF file, say as part of a Shared Review, this is the better way to do it. Otherwise, it can be hard for the person collecting comments and the other reviewers to see how the highlight or drawing markup you added is associated with the separate sticky note you then put somewhere near it.

August 24, 2009

Acrobat and Word for Commenting Part 2: Export PDF Comments Back to Word

In Part 1 of this article, I wrote about exporting comments in a Microsoft Word document to a PDF file with comments when using Acrobat PDFMaker. When converting Microsoft Office files to PDF documents it is important, possibly even critical, to preserve as much information from the source as possible, and to have the option to be selective about it: Acrobat PDFMaker can help you there.

But the really productive part is after you have received comments from others on a PDF version of the document, possibly via a Shared Review. That is the time you will want to apply – or integrate – the changes to the source Word document: you got it, Acrobat can help you out here too by exporting PDF comments from Acrobat back to Word.

[As I stated in Part 1, this method applies only to supported versions of Microsoft Word on Windows. Apologies to my Mac brothers and sisters.]

Before you get started, I suggest opening the PDF file with comments, going through the feedback and suggested changes from reviewers. This is so you ca determine what is exported to Word and then integrated for you [this is optional, but will save you some time later if you have a lot of suggested changes, some of which you know won’t be integrated]. You can do one or both of the following:

  1. Marking the valid ones with a checkmark by right-clicking the comments and choosing “Mark with Checkmark” or just clicking the checkbox to the left of the comments in the Comment List of the Comments Navigation Panel. Note that this checkmark won’t appear in the document when viewed by others. Otherwise…
  2. Right-click on a comment and choose “Set Status > Review” and either “Accepted” or “Rejected”. You can also do this from the Comments List. Others will see this status for the comment as part of the review.

With that done, let’s get to work…

Export PDF Comments From Acrobat to Word

To get started, choose Comments > Export Comments to Word… in Acrobat, or if you have the Comments list open, choose Export Comments to Word… from the Comments List Options button.

What this will do is launch Microsoft Word, if it isn’t open already, and now that you are there, open the “Import Comments from Adobe Acrobat” wizard [I know, I know, that’s not the exact title of this article, but it is the same thing really]. If you are already in Word, or have the original DOC/DOCX document open, you can also go to the Acrobat ribbon (or menu) and choose “Import Comments from Acrobat…” under “Acrobat Comments”.

If you haven’t been through this before, a screen of instructions will appear first: click OK to continue. You will then see one of three possible scenarios, depending on how you launched the wizard:

  • If you are coming from Acrobat in this step, the PDF file you had open before with all the comments will be shown under “Take comments from this PDF file:”.
  • If you launched the wizard from within Word and the source DOC/DOCX file was open, it will be listed under “Place comments in this Word file:”. By default, the wizard will look for a PDF file in the same folder and with the same file name, and if it finds it, lists that too. It’s assuming that PDF file is the one that has comments.
  • If you got to the wizard from Word with no file open, both fields will be blank.

Whatever gets listed there for files, you can change it by clicking on the “Browse…” button.


You can then choose what you would like to import to Word:

  • All Comments. This includes drawing markups such as polygons and callouts. If a comment or markup has a pop-up with text in it, then this will be made the text for the Word comment. The PDF comment or markup type, and the date that the comment was made, are also added to the Word comment text. For example, “Comment [08/21/09#3]:Highlight: The text from the pop-up.”
  • All Comments with Checkmarks.This will only include comments and markup that you checked off using Acrobat’s Comments List, for example.
  • Text Edits only: Insertions, Deletions and Replaces. This will just integrate the suggested changes to the Word document, and not just add the Text Edits as Word comments.
  • Custom Filters, for the comments you would like to include and apply. With this option you can be choosy about what is imported and applied to the Word document, including which authors comments you would like incorporated. For example, you can specify that only comments and markup that you have checked and accepted be imported by the wizard. Everything else will be ignored.

Finally for this part, as you can see from the previous image, you can also instruct the wizard to turn on Word’s Track Changes feature so you can see what gets changed once the wizard has completed its task.

Once you are back at the start of the wizard, the real fun begins when you click the “Continue” button.

First, the wizard will go ahead and import all the PDF comments into the Word document (unless you filtered them using the options I mentioned before). You should see them over on the right hand side of the pages, as expected with Word comments, pointing to the location where they were originally added to the PDF file. You will get the best results here if the Word document was converted to a PDF file using Acrobat PDFMaker and was tagged, but it still works otherwise. The wizard will then report back on how many comments were imported to Word, breaking it up by Text Edits and Other Comments:


If you thought that was cool, just wait for the next part…Integrate Text Edits is the next optional step (click Cancel to skip it), and it does just what it says on the tin. The wizard will go through the imported insertion, deletion or replacement Text Edits comments, and apply those changes for you. Acrobat is even doing your work for you now!

You can apply or discard them one-by-one by clicking on the appropriate button. You can then either click “Next”, or check the “Automatically go to next” option, and the wizard will jump to the next Text Edit comment and move the dialog and document so you can see the highlighted area to be changed. If you know you want to apply them all because you have already checked and/or accepted them in Acrobat beforehand, go ahead and click “Apply All Remaining”.


You don’t have to use what you see in the “New Text” field. As you can see in this example, a typo was missed in the original Text Edit comment: I don’t believe the author of this document really wants to extol the virtues of causing unwanted and annoying color changes to garments, but would rather mention the commitment to environmentally responsible practices [granted, I am the one who made the mistake]. Just go ahead and type in to that field what the text should be, and that is what the wizard will use.

Once all the changes have been applied, the wizard wraps things up by giving you a final report on the text integrations it made, with a couple of tips for cleaning things up in your Word document via the Acrobat ribbon/menu, including merging tracked changes and deleting comment bubbles.


Now think back to what you just read or tried yourself, and how you would have gotten to that same result before. If you were lucky to have two monitors, you may have the PDF and DOC/DOCX files open side-by-side and visually scanned from comment to comment applying those changes as you saw fit. If you had only one monitor, it was either a) very large or b) you are beginning to wear out your Alt and Tab keys on your keyboard. You may also have printed out the PDF document with comments, or the Comments Summary from Acrobat, and visually scanned that for changes to make [not very (su)stainable]. Either way, it was a process that was certainly slower than using Acrobat’s Export(Import) Comments command, and probably had a greater risk of introducing errors or missing important changes.

Give this real time-saver a try and see how it works out for you. Remember, for best results use a PDF document that was created from the same Word document using Acrobat PDFMaker – no refrigeration after opening required.

August 21, 2009

Acrobat and Word for Commenting Part 1: Export Word Comments to PDF

Adobe Acrobat 9 has review and markup capabilities. Microsoft Word 2007 has review and markup capabilities. Having said that, I am not going to go into a lengthy discussion of how one application excels in these capabilities over the other [phew!]. They are both great at what they are intended to do, and you can use both workflows together to help review cycles go that much smoother.

So how could you use them together? As expected, Microsoft Word can be used for seeing what’s changed as you author the document and go through versions, and Acrobat to gather feedback from one or more reviewers where they all the see the same thing, including other reviewers comments, without changing things in the document and without having to buy additional software. As you go through review cycles and various iterations of the document, you can incorporate comments and markup between the DOC/DOCX and PDF files, as well as have Acrobat apply the suggested and accepted changes for you back in to the source.

I have split these tips in to two entries: first up, going from Word to Acrobat…

[I am using Microsoft Word 2007 for these tips, but you can certainly use earlier supported versions of Word too. Sorry my Mac brothers and sisters who use Office 2008: this doesn’t apply to you. You can skip over this blog entry, but there are lots of others you can read instead.]

Export Comments From Word to PDF

If you already have comments in the source Word document, you can include those in the resulting PDF file that you send out for review.

First go into your Acrobat PDFMaker Preferences, either from the Acrobat ribbon in Word 2007, or the Acrobat menu in an earlier version of Word. Click on the Word tab. Select “Convert displayed comments to notes in Adobe PDF” (it’s deselected by default).

Once you have checked that off, you can then be more selective about what is converted to sticky notes in the PDF file. For each reviewer you can:

  • set whether to include their comments in the resulting PDF file
  • decide whether the notes should be open or not in the PDF file
  • choose the color the sticky notes will be (keep clicking the colored note to cycle through some standard colors)


Click OK to set the preferences (remember that PDFMaker preferences are sticky and will be used the next time you create a PDF file from Word this way). When you create the PDF file by clicking on the Create PDF button on the Word ribbon/toolbar (don’t create the PDF by printing to the Adobe PDF in this case), you will get a PDF file with the notes placed where you originally clicked to add a Word comment.

Acrobat will use the user name as configured in Word’s options as the Author for the PDF note. The note Subject will be empty as there is no equivalent in Word comments. And Accept and Reject are not flags in Word as they are in Acrobat – accepting a Word comment just keeps it in the document – so that is also ignored.

I have to thank the Acrobat engineering for also remembering to set the opacity of the notes in the resulting PDF to 30%, otherwise the notes would be covering all the text!

Note that if you send out the document for a Shared Review, these comments will have a new Author (whoever initiated the review) with “On behalf of…” added to the note pop-up text.



[It’s the little details that Acrobat 9 has that I personally love and that make all the difference.]

Stay tuned for part 2 of this article where I walk you through exporting PDF comments from Acrobat back to Word, and have Acrobat apply edits for you.

March 24, 2009

Is there a way to delete/add pages to a PDF file sent for shared review?

I was recently asked the question “how can we delete or add pages to a PDF file after it has been sent for shared review?”. Good question that.

Firstly, a little background: when you send a PDF document to others for a shared review, you may have seen that Acrobat 9 (and 8) will lock the document down to prevent changes. This is to protect the “Enable for Commenting in Reader” functionality in the document from being accidentally removed or “damaged”: this way, those who only have the free Adobe Reader 8 or 9 can participate as expected. And hence, you are unable to change pages.

In order to add or delete pages in this scenario, you have to end the shared review, and then start a new one with the modified document. This is good practice: it ensures all reviewers are looking at and adding comments to precisely the same file, helping the review go along much smoother. The Review Tracker in Acrobat 9 can help with ending a shared review, then starting a new one with the same reviewers.

If you don’t have access to the original document, or you were not the initiator, you can still use the PDF document that was part of the shared review (the one that Acrobat created when you stepped through the “Send for Shared Review” wizard). You need to “disconnect” that local copy from the Shared Review. You can do so by choosing File > Save as Archive Copy… or by clicking on the server status button on the yellow shared review information bar at the top of the document and choosing “Save as Archive Copy…”


Acrobat will warn you that archiving the document means it is no longer part of a shared review, but that it will still contain all the comments that were added up to that point in an editable state.


Open that archive copy, which by default will have “_archive” appended to its file name. That may not be the one you see in Acrobat once you save the archived version – that is still the shared review document. And as you will notice, the archive version has no more shared review functionality, and therefore, no more security as a result of the enable for Adobe Reader. You are now free to go about doing what you need to do this copy of the PDF document.

February 15, 2009

Acrobat 9 Deployment and Collaboration Settings

Technical Evangelist Joel Geraci recently posted an article, video and a “kit” for Acrobat 9 deployment. He has included the Adobe Customization Wizard 9, which allows IT managers to set default configurations for both Acrobat 9 and Adobe Reader 9 on Windows prior to deployment, including document collaboration settings.

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January 29, 2009

Spotlight: Tourism Ireland

The German team used to travel to Ireland to work through their edits with the designers.” Emphatically believing in and being passionate about your work are things I agree with, but even that quote struck me as a work process that could be addressed.

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January 27, 2009

Customer Spotlights: Document Reviews Using Acrobat

Does anyone here need to save some cash to pay off that moped you decided to buy in the middle of winter? How about a few extra hours a week to improve your Guitar Hero® record? Well these Adobe customers were not concerned about two-wheeled open-air transportation or addictive games (maybe they were), but they did save time and money when it came to document reviews and approvals using Acrobat 9.

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October 17, 2008

Page View Sharing: Do You Have An Interesting Way of Using It?

One of the standout new capabilities for Acrobat 9 and Reader 9 is the ability for up to 3 document viewers to share the view of the page that they have of the document. As Mac|Life magazine said “Running a Shared Review session that’s broadcast with Collaborate Live is an easy and powerful way to get a team working together—not to mention being literally on the same page.”

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October 01, 2008

Could you step aside, please, I can’t see!

Last week I was lucky enough to give four classes and a keynote (sounds like a movie title to me) at the Acrobat and PDF Central Conference 2008 in Minneapolis, MN. One of the sessions I attended was on Comment and Review Best Practices, which was very well presented by Keith Gilbert of Gibert Consulting. He shared some great tips for marking up documents efficiently which I hope to write about some more. One of the suggestions he had was to make sure that Callout Tool text box should NOT be placed on top of page content as you cannot see what’s underneath it.

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