Best iPad app for integration of handwritten annotations in a PDF?
June 15, 2011 5:33 PM   Subscribe

Can I add handwritten annotations to PDFs on an iPad?

I am aware of iAnnotate and GoodReader, but my impression is these apps do not allow handwritten annotation of PDFs.

I see UPAD does have this functionality. Any comments on how UPAD compares to other apps allowing handwritten annotation of PDFs, and your preference for the best one?

The annotations should ideally become part of the PDF, and not be layered on top of a PDF. Compatibility with at least Acrobat Reader is key.
posted by cahlers to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Noterize (Here's a review).
posted by googly at 6:13 PM on June 15, 2011

You certainly can add handwritten annotations using iAnnotate, although they look...well....kind of like handwriting on the iPad, which just doesn't look as good as writing with a pen. (it's got this awkward writing-on-a-computer look.) You just use the pen tool, and write with your finger or a stylus. If you are planning to do any amount of PDF annotation, I would strongly recommend a stylus.

What you can also do using iAnnotate is to add typed annotations as though they were handwritten---for example, you can add words between typed lines, etc. You can also make custom stamps with text; I made 2/4 and 4/4 grade stamps.

I was pretty happy with using iAnnotate to grade big stacks of mathematical proofs for a class I was teaching (I was grading their writing as much as the mathematics). It's not as easy as grading actual printed out typed pages, but on the other hand, I didn't have to be carrying around a stack of 24 10-page assignments, and students just had to email them to me. (iAnnotate's dropbox integration was very helpful, here.) I strongly recommend it if you need to be doing annotation or grading or proofreading, etc, on the iPad.

On the other hand, the annotations are layered on, and you can run into problems with the annotations if you open it in preview and then save it, and then send it back by email and then try to open it in iAnnotate again. (apparently there's some preview issue.). On the other hand, none of my students had any problems seeing the annotations, and most of them were using acrobat/adobe reader/whatever it's called these days.
posted by leahwrenn at 6:19 PM on June 15, 2011

Random googling produced this very nice review of iAnnotate, with a lot of screen captures, including some with handwriting. You can zoom out the screen if you want to make smaller annotations.

(why yes, I really like iAnnotate for this purpose.)
posted by leahwrenn at 6:23 PM on June 15, 2011

PDF Expert has also worked for me. I honestly don't use it enough to comment strongly for or against it as an option. I do most of my reading in GoodReader.
posted by meinvt at 7:52 PM on June 15, 2011

I'm assuming you mean handwriting on top of a page, drawing arrows or underlining or circling stuff?

Goodreader allows handwritten annotations. After making them, you can move them, scale them and delete them. You can change the color. You can change the opacity (limited to 25, 50, 75, 100% increments) and the stroke width (limited to .5, 1, 1.5, 2, 3, 5 and 9 pt).

You can then "flatten copy", which I think makes the annotation part of the file (though for example text underneath the annotation is still selectable).

I use Goodreader as my default reader, but haven't had much occasion to annotate, this is what it seems like from just poking around at it.
posted by brentajones at 8:16 PM on June 15, 2011

Response by poster: Since I have never used any of these programs (I don't yet own an iPad), I am not that familiar with any of them. My apologies, it appears iAnnotate does indeed allow handwritten annotations.

I would like to be able to have a colleague sign a document, then send that document containing the person's handwritten signature to a third person.

In addition, I would like to be able to make handwritten notes in the margin of documents (not use the keyboard typing in a text box).

It appears that both iAnnotate and GoodReader can do these things - is this correct?
posted by cahlers at 6:46 AM on June 16, 2011

I believe GoodReader will do what you describe, yes. Here is GoodReader's man page about annotations (see also the following section regarding flattening).
posted by brentajones at 2:16 PM on June 16, 2011

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