Make InDesign be able to import/Export comments from/to PDF
I want to be able to get the comments from PDF into InDesign so that I can easily incorporate/respond on the comments from people.
This feature is now available in latest InDesign CC version. Please upgrade to the latest release.
Lindsey Thomas Martin commented
 In my case, the comments are queries to authors (and occasionally to in-house acquiring editors) about apparent errors, ambiguous writing and preferences for presentation of material. There are no doubt work-flows where the comments would be sent to colleagues working on other aspects of a publication. But, the main purpose of exporting notes to PDF would be so page proofs containing the comments can be sent to authors and others without access to an in-house workflow based on InCopy and InDesign.
 The comments are not a response to comments from authors or reviewers as the latter would usually be incorporated into the document and a new set of proofs generated.
1. Why you want to export comments from InDesign into PDF? Are these replies to reviewer comments?
2. Do you want to add new comments in InDesign ? If yes, please share some scenarios where you want to add comments.
1. Yes, replies to reviewer comments, or my own new comments/questions for the customer. If I can add them in the InDesign source file instead of afterwards in the PDF, I don't have to redo that every time I change the InDesign and make a new PDF.
2. Yes, new comments too. Mainly because it is easier to include them in the PDF than add them as text in the email, which results in comments like "On Page 1, §2, line 6".
For example, I make a first draft of a design and want to mention where the text that the customer provided, is too long, or when I want to indicate that an image is just a suggested stock image. Or the image the customer provided isn't of sufficient quality. Or when it is a design for a zig-zag folder, I can indicate which side is meant to be
Since this feature ask includes "Export" as well, can you please let us the following?
- Why you want to export comments from InDesign into PDF? Are these replies to reviewer comments?
- Do you want to add new comments in InDesign ? If yes, please share some scenarios where you want to add comments.
Thanks in advance.
Kelly Vaughn commented
@Laura: What is your version of InDesign? Sometimes the CC app says you're updated, but you might still be at an earlier version if you're running an older operating system. This feature was rolled out in version 14.0.
What version OS are you running?
Once you are at version 14.0, it should be just another panel, available under Window > PDF Comments.
Yes, PDFs that were made from a previous version of InDesign cannot have their comments imported into the PDF Comments panel in InDesign. A workaround is to export the comments from the older PDF to a data file, make a new PDF in the new version of InDesign, transfer the comments into it (in Acrobat, export comments to data file. Then you can import the comments into InDesign.
Also, as this feature does not allow you to select a page range, it will not work with books. Because you have no way to select a page range of the PDF when you import it. I suppose if you really needed to, you could manually break apart your PDF and save out a bunch of different files which you could then import into InDesign.
this feature is still version 1.0. If you're looking for something that's got more features, I'd look into DTP Tools Annotations. It's been around for over five years and works very well. http://www.dtptools.com/product.asp?id=anid
Laura Sutherland commented
I'm trying to test this at home before we roll it out at work — according to the Cloud, I've upgraded to the latest InD CC version, but there is no "Import PDF Comments" menu item, nor is there a "PDF comments" window. Do I need to activate it in some way or is it not available because we use templates originally created in (much) earlier versions of InD (but updated through the years)? And is it correct that PDF comments already marked from previous versions of InD can't be imported? Thanks.
Heather Christian commented
I'm excited about this new feature, but it's a bit disappointing that it doesn't work for PDFs exported from the book panel. As a book designer who works exclusively out of the book panel and goes through multiple rounds of revisions with authors via PDF, this is a huge drawback. Any plans to have that option available in a future update?
Rainer Klute commented
To be honest: it does not work properly, it is still kind of beta and no one should rely on this. :-(
Raphaël Freeman commented
How about getting it to work with the Adobe World Composer reliably? Or is that just another ME bug that we will have to live with for the next 20 years?
In using this in the final release of 2019, there are a couple of things I've spotted that could be improved:
1) The sticky notes icons are VERY large compared to how they look in Acrobat. It's quite difficult to see where the note is actually referring to, especially when working on a document with a lot of comments.
2) The sticky note icons cannot be moved (only removed by either ticking the Resolved checkbox or by deleting the comment) so it's hard to read the text underneath. When going through comments in the PDF, I would normally move the note I'm working on so I can see what the text used to be and can then make a call on what the change actually is. Our customers aren't always too precise with the changes and it needs a bit of thought!
In response to the comments (from me as well!) about only being able to use comments from a PDF created in 2019, you can export the comments from the comments panel in Acrobat then reimport them into your PDF created in 2019 and it will then open into InDesign!
Matt Mayerchak commented
NOTES from first trial:
1) Why does the PDF have to be created from InDesign CC2019? I can't understand the technical reason for this and it's a HUGE drawback.
2) I did several markups over 3 pages of a 50+ page PDF. The ones that imported worked well - a few striketrhoughs and a few text replacments.
3) Several of the edits did not work - it said they could not be mapped. Why not? No rhyme or reason to which ones failed. If they are basic text edits done with the commenting tools, they had better ALL work or it's worthless. Editors will not accept 75% of edits being OK and the other 25% being lost. Adobe really needs to figure out why some don't work.
4) Annotations plugin from DTP tools adds a highlight to show where an edit has been made. (Jan put this in at my suggestion). It's extremely helpful because I can accept all edits for a whole page at a time, then go check them. Often the editor includes an extra word space, or removes a word space, or misses one charactrer or punctuation mark when striking out text.
5) I would STRONGLY encourage the Adobe team to use the Annotations plugin and see how it works, and emulate as much as they can about it (except the import annotations dialog, which is substandard and wonky). But, here are some features they should copy:
a) having indicators in the InDesign showing all the annotations locations BEFORE you accept them (because sometimes they come in wrong, which usually means you edited the InDesign file since the PDF was made);
b) highlighting the edits after they have been made until you choose to remove those;
c) the small comment dialog that shows the text of a comment, whether it's a text edit or a design comment - with these, at least we can still copy the text from a comment even when it was done as a sticky note, rather than having to copy it from Acrobat.
d) the ability to choose which page to start on - because you know some people omit pages from PDFs, or send partial pdfs to editors
e) the ability to work on a PDF saved as spreads. I know this is not how it should be done; but many designers give spread pdfs to clients because the clients are not smart enough to view the pdf as spreads in Acrobat, or print them out as spreads, so they are dummy-proofing their output. I tell designers that if they do this, make sure to give them a single-pages pdf for editing, but you cannot control the editors and they will edit the spreads pdf if it exists. With Annotations, this is not technically supposed to work, but it does!
I fully expect that, as they did with Endnotes, Adobe will include a half-baked version of this in the next release and it will make the whole process horrible for all who use it. Right now we have enough trouble getting people to understand the difference between using comments to annotate a PDF and editing the PDF directly. I have seen several projects where an editor spent many hours directly editing a PDF and then sent that to us to import. A complete waste of time but they simply do what seems obvious to them before asking anybody and Adobe makes it "intuitive" so there is no reason to think this is not a good idea. It would be nice if Adobe spent 5 minutes thinking about human nature and how people in the real world use their products before adding or removing tools, but as we have seen in many instances, such as the addition of the [+] overrides toggle that automatically adds blue highlighting and has freaked out many a designer, they spent very little time trying to understand their users. So, I have ZERO confidence that this feature will be worth using until at least 4 updates, if ever.
p.s. still waiting for live endnotes that work; until then I have to keep CC2017 running so I can import Word files that have footnotes and then bring them into CC2018. I know there is a script for that but it's easier to just import them correctly.
I noticed in the beta that it only works on PDFs made from that version of InDesign and then comments added. I tried on an old actual job with the comments on and it wouldn't import. Is that how the final functionality will work? I ask because we do get some customers who update old PDFs (which we still have current InDesign files for) and it would be good to use this new function on those jobs in the future if possible.
Woo! Hoo!!! Downloading now!
Rich Coda commented
For me, for this to work, it would HAVE to be able to work from the back to the front. My clients, OK, OK... ONE particular client ALWAYS makes layout busting changes. I work with a single threaded text box as much as possible... working on a 48 page job right now. She ads just one small word, sometimes even just a character, or breaks a paragraph into two, and it screws EVERYTHING after that. Even after 15 years with this client, I try to explain to her that text is like a river... throw a pebble into it upstream and it will ripple downstream. And, of course, she constantly moves things (graphics) to different pages, which of course, 100% of the time messes everything up. So, I learned a long time ago (even before annotations in Acrobat were functional, even before Acrobat... like in "faxed in changes") to work with her files from the back. Do all the text changes first so we are "on the same page" so to speak, and then deal with the layout busters.
Really looking forward to trying this out in the Beta next week!
Raphaël Freeman commented
1. Please make sure it works when optical margin alignment is on.
2. Please make sure it works with the Adobe World Composer.
3. Please make sure it can handle large documents (most of my work is on documents that are between 200–600 pages of text often with many pictures and Annotations is very slow with large documents)
I currently use Annotations which has saved me literally 1000s of hours of work but it doesn’t work with the World Composer and has errors when corrections are made to hanging punctuation at the end of a line.
I would be willing to beta test this since I spend several hours every day on corrections.
I would like to ask how it looks? When we can expect function - Import comments PDF to Indesign?
Georg Stadler commented
I just read through the proposed specs. Looking great.
I have a question though: Is there a way to approve or decline annotations. What I mean by this is, will I be able to just click a button to accept a proposed change and the change will be reflected in the ID-Document.
Like in InCopy.
Furthermore, what will happen if a change results in massive shift of text (i.e. inserting a paragraph in a book) will the other changes keep up with the new flow of text?
Colin Flashman commented
I've just read the proposed specs as of 17 April 2018 via this site: https://adobe.ly/2H0Iol6
As mentioned by other posters, the ability to post our own markups that will appear in the exported PDF would be great.
Lindsey Thomas Martin commented
Abhinav, I think option 4 would generally work best. Option 2 might work as well; options 1 and 3 are not desirable. It is important to see the mark-up in situ. You might consider modifying option 4 or 2 so the mark-up fades a bit when the user begins to edit so one can see it is there but there will less danger of the point of editing being obscured.
This probably conflicts with the annotation coming into focus when overlapped by the cursor. I find Acrobat's method of bringing annotations into focus not easy to see. Fading might be a good alternative, though perhaps counterintuitive.
The proposed workflow looks great. I agree with Raja, hiding / showing the comments using scripting should be possible. This is very Important. Any suggestions on adding annotations and comments in Indesign ?