Using Drawing Tablet & Software to Annotate, Write, or Sign PDFs

13/09/2023 website

PDF is short for Portable Document Format, a versatile file format for sharing documents online. For instance, many contracts and documents are signed virtually and saved as PDFs because of their secure nature. PDF files have been around for over two decades and are ubiquitous. They can contain not only text but also media like audio and videos.

If you're exchanging and creating PDFs with your peers or coworkers, chances are high you'll need to do some notation. Annotating PDFs refers to adding notes and important remarks to the PDF for other readers. It's common during the development process, and you may also need to sign or fill out a PDF.

Don't worry if you don't have much experience annotating like this on a computer. We'll go over the easiest ways to annotate a PDF on Windows and Mac OS, with a focus on the best PDF reader with pen support.

What are PDF annotations?

PDF annotations are digital notes, highlights, drawings, or comments added to a PDF document to provide additional information or markup.

When you mark up text, you are, in fact, having a conversation with what you are reading. So, an annotation is important.

There are various markup tools, often found in a PDF annotator, that you can use to annotate what you are reading. You can underline a sentence, use a highlighter, add a comment with an arrow, flag with a symbol, draw a shape around it, tag a Post-It note on it, and more.

Utilize the selection and markup tools to annotate the PDF. With these tools, you can write on PDF with a pen, draw on PDF, and make use of the PDF annotator features. You can type, sketch, draw, use shapes, add notes, sign, and even change the format for all your annotations.

7 Best PDF Annotator Software for Mac and Windows Users

Creating or reading a PDF is straightforward, but when it comes to editing or annotating a PDF without altering its format or layout, you'll require a dedicated PDF editor with pen support.

Standard PDF viewers typically lack the capability to easily draw or write freehand on documents.

PDF editors, distinct from PDF viewers or word processors, are specifically designed to work with this format and perform a limited set of tasks within it.

The essential feature is the ability to enable single or collaborative annotation and markup, which includes useful annotation tools such as highlighting, sticky notes, comment boxes, message stamps (e.g., "approved" or "confidential"), and even freehand notes.

Many PDF editors, including Adobe's Acrobat Reader, facilitate tasks like text highlighting and adding your signature, making them a valuable choice for those seeking a PDF viewer with pen support and a comprehensive PDF editor with pen capabilities.

1. Adobe Acrobat Reader DC

If you're looking for the best PDF reader with pen support that ensures both accuracy and security in handling PDFs, Adobe Acrobat is the top choice.

Adobe Acrobat stands as the industry standard for PDFs, offering a comprehensive suite of tools. With its modern, intuitive interface, Adobe makes it effortless to create, edit, and sign PDFs while easily tracking their activity.

This versatile software is accessible on Windows and macOS systems, with additional availability as iOS and Android apps, and even as a Google Drive add-on.

How to creat digital signature on a PDF in Adobe Acrobat

1. Open the Acrobat Reader DC and a PDF file that you want to sign your name.

2. Click ‘Tools' and then find the item ‘Fill & Sign' from the ‘Tools' menu, open it.

3. Click the item ‘Sign', then choose ‘Add Signature'.

4. Click ‘Draw', then you can use stylus to draw. After finishing your signature, click ‘Apply' to save it.

5. The signature can be placed anywhere in the PDF after saving it. For example, put the signature at the place that you want it there: choose ‘Sign', click that place, then signature comes out.


2. Foxit Reader

Foxit PDF Reader enables you to write on PDF files that would otherwise be unmodifiable by using its selection of drawing tools.

These drawing tools encompass a range of shapes, including arrows, lines, rectangles, ovals, polygons, and clouds. Moreover, it provides a freehand Pencil Tool, allowing you to write or draw whatever you need.

In case of any mistakes, Foxit PDF Reader also includes a Rubber Tool, allowing you to easily erase marks made with the Pencil tool.

3. Drawboard

Drawboard PDF is now available for free through the Microsoft Store. It's a versatile tool for working with PDFs, allowing you to open, read, mark up, edit, write on, annotate, ink, draw, and save multiple large and complex PDF documents.

Millions of engineers, architects, lawyers, students, and educators are already using Drawboard PDF every day for fast and collaborative PDF markup, including the ability to write on PDF documents with ease.

4. PDF XChange Viewer


The smallest, fastest, most feature-rich FREE PDF editor/viewer available! With PDF XChange Viewer, you can create, view, edit, annotate, write on, OCR, and digitally sign PDF files, among many other capabilities.

PDF XChange Viewer offers numerous features that are typically found only in paid versions of Acrobat or Foxit, making it an excellent choice for those needing to write on PDF documents without the need for a paid software.

5. Xodo PDF Reader & Annotator

Xodo is among the many free PDF viewers available. It not only supports annotations compatible with other PDF viewers like Adobe Acrobat Reader but also provides a user-friendly platform for writing on PDF documents using digital inking. Moreover, Xodo offers the convenience of saving your digital signature for use across multiple documents.

Whether you are using Windows, Android, or ChromeOS, Xodo is your go-to, free, and excellent PDF annotation app, ideal for writing on PDFs effortlessly.

6. OneNote

In the OneNote free note-taking application, you can write on, markup, highlight, and tag the PDF document, and it will be automatically saved to your OneNote Notebook. Subsequently, you can print it, incorporate it into a presentation, or share it via email and other apps.

Annotating PDFs in OneNote is a useful method for students to write on PDFs and highlight parts of speech in a document they share with you. It's also an effective way to draw attention to specific passages in a text or provide suggestions for improvement.

7. Xournal++


Xournal++ is a free handwriting notetaking software with PDF annotation support. which runs on Linux, macOS and Windows 10.

Xournal can be used to annotate PDF files, by loading the pages of a PDF file as backgrounds for a journal.

Best tablets with pen support for PDF annotating


Veikk VK430/ S640/ VK640 art tablet is designed with slim and compact sized with an active area of 4x3 inches / 6x4 inches offering perfect creative space for limited desktop areas.It is easy to carry out and always ready for your creation whenever and wherever.

Battery-free Digital pen P01 features 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity, 5080LPI pen resolution and virtually no lag, providing you ultimate precision and control.

The Creator VK640 has 6 buttons on the tablet that can be set to any art program shortcut keys. It supports Android and Chromebook devices, apart from your Windows and Mac Os.

With stylus and the tablet,teachers and studernts can easily handwritten edit,diagram,do math,annotate on virtual whitebord in Zoom, Team and Xsplit while streaming or broadcasting.

It is compatible with Word, Powerpoint, OneNote and more.It is also perfect for taking notes ,jotting down ideas and business signature during web conferencing and remote working.

How to annotate PDF with drawing tablet

Connecting a Drawing tablet & pen to your laptop or desktop allows you to write or draw electronically.

The pen tablet connects via USB or wireless. After downloading and installing the necessary driver you can use the pen and tablet to control your computer much like a computer mouse.

Then Use a PDF Annotator software to write, draw, or annotate prepared PDF slides.

Digital Drawing and Writing with Your Drawing Tablet in Office Applications

With the latest version of Office 365 come some pretty cool features.

In Microsoft Word, OneNote or Microsoft PowerPoint, head over to the Draw tab and simply pick your pen. Then start marking up the doc. An entire menu of options for the electronic pen will then be available in the ribbon.

Both programs also allow you to use Windows Ink to create math equations using a pen instead of a mouse or keyboard and in Word, you can embed a drawing canvas right into your Word doc. Save your doc, and you ink is saved too.

How to use graphic tablet to draw, write on a PDF in Adobe Acrobat

1. Connect the tablet and open the Acrobat Reader DC software.

2. Click ‘Tools' and then find the item ‘Comment' from the ‘Tools' menu, open it.

3. Click pen icon that named ‘Draw free form' pen to draw. you can select a color and line thickness you want from the icon on the toolbar.

The ‘Draw free form' option makes you can use the tablet pen to draw words freely on PDF files, just like to draw on a canvas.

The ‘Draw free form' option also makes you can use the tablet pen to draw, line, circle or mark out the important content.

4. Move the cursor on the circled pen and click it. Then you can use the tablet pen to highlight the content you want.


Annotating is a key reading skill that enables you to actively and critically engage with text. Besides using it to comment on and capture your thoughts as you read.

annotation can also be used as an instructional tool with your students. For instance, you can use it for formative assessment purposes, for comprehension checks, to collect students feedback and many more.

There will be times that you have to markup a PDF, highlight specific text, or annotate something. Instead of searching for a dedicated PDF reader, you can perform all of that inside the Microsoft Edge web browser.

Veikk tablet does have the ability to write in Microsoft edge. To do this, select the drawing tool in Microsoft Edge and you'll be able to write over any webpage.

Annotation with the drawing tablet was excellent, and it's something that cannot be achieved with the typical computer peripherals or even smartphones.

For those who need to read and annotate many PDF documents everyday, the handwriting input device would do wonders and makes the process faster and easier.



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