PDF Annotation

Activities ::: mod_pdfannotator
Maintained by Bernd Decker, Friederike Schwager, Tim Schroeder
The PDF annotator allows students to insert questions, comments and remarks on learning materials in PDF format directly into the document. Since all students, lecturers and tutors can read and answer the questions and comments asked, it is made easier to clarify open questions on lecture slides, scripts and other PDF learning materials quickly and in a concrete context.
Latest release:
2403 sites
82 fans
Current versions available: 3

What is the PDF-Annotator?

The PDF annotator allows students to insert questions, comments and remarks on learning materials in PDF format directly into the document. Since all students, lecturers and tutors can read and answer the questions and comments asked, it is made easier to clarify open questions on lecture slides, scripts and other PDF learning materials quickly and in a concrete context.

The PDF annotator is integrated into Moodle. You can recognize the PDF annotator by this  icon: The following screenshot (Fig. 1) gives you an impression of what the annotator looks like. On the left side of the PDF are the annotations, for which there are different tools. In the column to the right of the PDF you can write a comment on the annotation or respond to existing questions and comments from students. Comments may contain references to an important passage, an error, or a question to be answered by other students.

All annotations and comments are public and therefore visible to others. However, comments, as well as replies to existing comments, can also be posted anonymously.

Add PDF annotator to the course

To use the PDF annotator and add it to your course, click Turn On Edit at the top right of the Moodle page. Then click on ADD AN ACTIVITY OR RESOURCE in the desired area in which the PDF annotator is to be displayed and select PDF ANNOTATION from the list. Then click on ADD and you will be forwarded to the overview page where you can make further settings, such as the name and a description for the document. In the next step, please upload the intended PDF document. You can do this either using drag & drop or the file manager.  You also have the option of availability, prerequisites and activity completion.

to be determined. If you do not need these settings, simply leave them untouched, after uploading the file and clicking on SAVE AND TO COURSE your PDF document will be displayed directly in the desired area.

NOTE:  also drag and drop a PDF into a Section (editing on), you will be asked "Create file for PDF Annotation".

Toolbar for annotations

Use the toolbar to select the different annotation tools. With these you mark a place or area in the PDF, for which you can then write a comment or a question.


Fig. 2 The toolbar

  • Cursor: With the cursor you can select, comment or move existing annotations.
  • Pin: Use the pin to mark individual points in the PDF to ask questions or leave a comment.
  • Bounding box: Use the frame to select individual text or image areas and create comments for them.
  • Highlighter: Use the highlighter to highlight parts of the text and make comments on it.
  • Cross-Out: With this tool you can cross out and comment on incorrect parts of a text. 
  • Text: With this tool you can insert additional text into the PDF and comment on this insertion. In addition, you can select the font size and color before writing.
  • Pen: With the pen you can paint freehand in the PDF and create comments. You can also select the pen width and pen color before drawing.
  • Zoom: With the zoom you can display the PDF larger or smaller.
  • Hide annotations: To view the original document, you can hide all annotations. Note: With another click on the open eye, all annotations can be shown again.
  • Fullscreen: In full-screen mode, the entire PDF annotator is displayed across the width of the screen.
  • Page count: The page number shows you where you are in the PDF document.
  • print pdfDownload document: Download the PDF document
  • Download comments: Download all Discussions as PDF

Create annotations and comments

If you select an existing annotation or create a new one, a comment field opens on the right. Here you can enter your questions or comments.

If you want to post anonymously, activate the checkbox Post anonymusly. With a click on CREATE ANNOTATION or ANSWER you can send your text. However, it is recommended that you do not post anonymusly.

Overview all annotations

The Teacher Overview provides an overview of various elements of the PDF annotator. You will receive a presentation of the reported comments, new questions will be made directly accessible here and can be accessed via the link on the right-hand side, you can continue to view your contributions to comments of the students in this presentation and additionally administer entries.


Since v1.5.1, PDFAnnotator are supporting the Atto Editor. Another editor will not work for this plugin. Please make sure, that you are using atto editor as your standard editor.


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Bernd Decker (Lead maintainer)
Friederike Schwager: Developer
Tim Schroeder: Developer
Please login to view contributors details and/or to contact them

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Показване на коментарите
  • Anisa Dewi
    вт, 23 май 2023, 22:12
    @samai each commentable annotation type, such as pin, highlighting etc.. call a callback function in index.js. It will call a function in lib.php names mod_pdfannotator_fragment_xxx. If you wanna add a question or a comment, it will triggered an event listener and call action.php. The action.php contains all events we need for pdfannotator.
    @cristina we have published a new release today. Please have a look усмивка
    @aldwin every user can turn it off in notification settings. Go to user preferences -> notifications preferences -> look for pdfannotator. Or what notifications do you mean?
  • Katja Derr
    пт, 16 юни 2023, 15:08
    Hello, our lecturers really love the pdf annotator - its just great for arts education, thank you so much for this plugin!
    However, since we updated to Moodle 4.1 it's no longer possible to activate the pin and add comments to the pdf (while drawing lines or adding text on the pdf is working).
    Do you have any suggestions what might cause this issue? (Moodle 4.1.2, PDF Annotator v1.5 release 4 2023052300)
    Thank you so much, best regards, Katja
  • Anisa Dewi
    пт, 16 юни 2023, 17:37
    Thank you for using our plugin усмивка
    I cannot recreate the problem. Can you tell me your browser and its version, your operating system, and what in your browser console is? Are there any errors or something?

    best regards
  • Lilia Urmazova
    пт, 20 окт 2023, 21:18
    Beautiful plugin! Thank you!

    A small question - is there any way to copy text from a pdf file in the plugin window, without downloading the pdf file?
  • Tim Schroeder
    чт, 11 яну 2024, 21:08

    you can copy text from the PDF but that only works with PDFs where the text is actually stored as text and not as an image. So if you can highlight the text you should be able to copy it, too.
  • Michelle Doyle
    чт, 7 март 2024, 22:32
    Blown away by how good a plugin this is. I was just wondering if it would be possible to set completion tracking so that a student has to annotate, comment or ask a question to complete? And also add a rating for interaction. This will help bring the horse to water, if you know what I mean. Again, thanks for this, it's great.
  • Елена MISIS
    ср, 13 март 2024, 21:36
    How to eraze (cancel) annotation that you just made?
  • Mona Sleem-Amer
    чт, 11 апр 2024, 20:02
    Whenever I click on "answer" to reply to an annotation/comment in a pdf, I get the error "invalid course module ID". This happens despite in different roles and courses. Is this a bug?
  • Viplava Joshy
    чт, 23 май 2024, 12:15
    Excellent product. Thank you for developing this. I was looking into being able to print the annotated pdf. Is this possible ?
  • Dharshana Salwathura
    ср, 10 юли 2024, 08:54
    Thank you for using our plugin.
    Is it possible to add an eraser to the tools ?
  • Tim Schroeder
    чт, 18 юли 2024, 19:26
    Hi Dharshana Salwathura,
    what would be the advantage of having an eraser tool over the current way of deleting annotation by selecting them with the hand tool and then clicking "X"?
  • Tim Schroeder
    пт, 19 юли 2024, 01:12
    Hi Viplava Joshy,
    you can currently only download (and then print)
    a) the PDF itself without annotations and
    b) a list of the annotations and replies as a separate PDF.
    Downloading both in one file is currently not implemented.
  • Tim Schroeder
    ср, 24 юли 2024, 23:14
    Hi Mona Sleem-Amer,
    that bug has been fixed with Release 1.5.5
  • Tim Schroeder
    ср, 24 юли 2024, 23:17
    Hi Елена MISIS,
    to delete an annotation:
    1. select the hand tool,
    2. click on the annotation to select it and
    3. click on the "X".
  • Tim Schroeder
    ср, 24 юли 2024, 23:36
    Hi Michelle Doyle,
    thanks for the suggestions. I've created an issue on GitHub for the custom completion condition feature. I'll put that into our backlog. However, I don't understand what you mean by "a rating for interaction". Can you explain what that would look like?
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