Strategy #7: Using commenting and formatting features for Word and PDF documents

Rather than printing PDF or Word documents in order to annotate them, students can use tools available within the programs to annotate online.

In a Word document, students can click on the Review tab. They can then highlight the selected text, and click "New Comment" (the sticky note icon). This will create a bubble in the margin where they can write their comment or annotation. As you can see below, because this is an electronic text, any annotation will become much more readable than when handwritten.

Using comments example

In addition to commenting, within the Review function, students can mark up the text by using a variety of tools such as highlighting, underlining, bolding, changing text color or size, and so on. They should experiment to find the tools that are most useful for improving their reading comprehension and then create a pattern or code for themselves. Notice how a student, using the same reading as before, enhances the text because of the electronic tools available. The "New Comment" function can be used alongside effective highlighting as in this example.

Using highlighting example

Because PDF documents are not editable, commenting on them is not always as easy. If students have access to Adobe Acrobat Pro, they can add highlights and comments similar to those in Word. If not, they can upload the document into an online program such as a.nnotate. This service allows them to add the annotations as well as store and share the documents. Students can create a free individual account with a limited monthly page count.