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annotate pdfI thought that college students get heavy discounts on commercial software but I just recently found out that students can get commercial software Get The Best Retail Software For FREE As A Student Get The Best Retail Software For FREE As A Student Read More completely free (including Visual Studio, Expression Encoder, etc), which is a nice perk. However, the perks of being a student don’t end there as there are actually quite a few student-friendly applications GradeGuru's Top Ten Student Tools for 2010 GradeGuru's Top Ten Student Tools for 2010 Read More , which may even be useful to wider audiences and not just students.

You can use Delicious to organize your student life How to Use Delicious to Organize Your Student Life How to Use Delicious to Organize Your Student Life Read More , Evernote to help you reduce your paper clutter 7 Ways To Make Use Of Evernote 7 Ways To Make Use Of Evernote Read More and more Top 10 Most Downloaded Student Tools [Movers & Shakers] Top 10 Most Downloaded Student Tools [Movers & Shakers] Read More ! Evernote, in particular, can definitely be considered a giant when it comes to the many platforms it has apps for and how versatile it is.

Jarnal is also a great note-taking application that can run in Windows, Mac and Linux and deserves a mention, without a doubt, for its extensive features.

Getting Jarnal

Jarnal is an open-source note-taking and sketching application that you can run without installing it (as the program is bundled in a zipped file), but there are also installable versions for Windows and Mac on the official wiki and SourceForge page. Debian users will also be able to download a .deb package, while users from other Linux distros can make use of the ZIP file.

Comparing It To Windows Journal

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Windows Journal, which comes bundled in certain editions of Windows XP, Vista, and 7, is actually a very neat and handy application for taking notes on your tablet PC, whether they are handwritten or typed notes. There were certain drawbacks to Windows Journal though, namely, the lack of additional importable files (you could only insert pictures), and the inability to export to PDF or something other than the .jnt Journal file type and .tiff image format. The .jnt file makes it pretty hard to view on say, a library computer, or even share them with classmates, because you’re pretty much out of luck unless you can run Windows Journal Viewer.

I used Windows Journal for a while, enjoying how I was able to insert and remove space for new notes, which I could select and move around to my liking. What bugged me a tad bit was the fact that I had to batch convert PDF slides for my classes to image files before I could insert them in Journal. I eventually found that PDF X-Change Viewer 6 Ways To Convert A PDF To A JPG Image 6 Ways To Convert A PDF To A JPG Image Read More provided annotation features that SumatraPDF didn’t have. Still, with the free edition of the X-Change Viewer, you can’t add PDF slides, which comes in handy when you annotate the heck out of the slides and run out of space.

This is where Jarnal shines. Since it’s for note-taking and sketching, you can add more space, annotate and export the whole thing to PDF. You first unzip the file, run jarnal.cm and head to File > Open Background (New On Background also works but it’s to open another instance of Jarnal) to choose your PDF file (or Word document) as your background.

annotate pdf documents

Editing The PDF File: Annotating & Merging With Other PDF Files

After you’ve imported your PDF file as your background to annotate on, you can use the text tool to insert typed notes, or the pen tool to draw freehand shapes. You can also basically create new PDF slides by inserting pages (and making diagram copies of whatever’s being illustrated by the professor on the board on these new slides which you will export later to PDF) and merging with other PDF files by inserting additional backgrounds.

annotate pdf documents

Other cool things you can do include inserting links, arrows (Ctrl + D), rectangles, etc. smoothing out your hand-drawn diagrams (by checking Smooth Strokes under Tools), and customizing what actions the middle or right mouse buttons perform (e.g. act as eraser, show context menu, etc).

annotate pdf documents

When you’re ready to save your annotated document, complete with your hand-drawn diagrams and notes, head to File > Export to PDF. You can also save the current page as an image or save it as a Jarnal file (.jaj).

annotate pdf

Though it doesn’t have lots of keyboard shortcuts, overall, Jarnal makes it easy for students who prefer to digitize notes (and save trees!) without having different programs to juggle while taking notes. In fact, I remember one of my classmates from a few years back who took notes on her laptop would type her notes in Word and painstakingly copy the diagrams from the white board in MS Paint. I imagine keeping these separate document and image files would make it harder to consolidate the study material so Jarnal is definitely a nice program worth trying for students.

Do you know of any other student-friendly applications or do you currently have a unique and genius note-taking method you’d like to share? Enlighten us in the comments!

  1. Jessica Cam W.
    January 21, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    Jarnal is more similar to Windows Journal (which is bundled in Tablet PC
    computers) than OneNote, but it can also include a screenshot. I don't
    remember seeing a recording audio feature, but I do know that to take
    multimedia notes, you can use InClass at
    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app... that records audio,
    and lets you take video, pictures and text notes on your iPhone and iPad.

  2. Nazo400
    January 21, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    So is this similar to Microsoft Office OneNote? Is there a way to record audio? That's a feature I like in my OneNote 2007. Not sure about the newer version(s) of Office, but the 2007 version has a feature you can screencap something on your screen & have it show up on the current page.

    @Jessica: Sadly I don't own a iPhone nor a iPad. Only a ipod [no cam] Currently I've been using sound recorder under accessories. [While also using a mp3 player] But thank you anyways.

    • Jessica Cam W.
      January 21, 2011 at 6:35 pm

      Jarnal is more similar to Windows Journal (which is bundled in Tablet PC
      computers) than OneNote, but it can also include a screenshot. I don't
      remember seeing a recording audio feature, but I do know that to take
      multimedia notes, you can use InClass at
      http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/inclass/id374986430?mt=8 that records audio,
      and lets you take video, pictures and text notes on your iPhone and iPad.

  3. Nazo400
    January 21, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    So is this similar to Microsoft Office OneNote? Is there a way to record audio? That's a feature I like in my OneNote 2007. Not sure about the newer version(s) of Office, but the 2007 version has a feature you can screencap something on your screen & have it show up on the current page.

    @Jessica: Sadly I don't own a iPhone nor a iPad. Only a ipod [no cam] Currently I've been using sound recorder under accessories. [While also using a mp3 player] But thank you anyways.

  4. Eli Cohen
    November 7, 2010 at 12:16 am

    Most note taking software allows users to save information digitally and then recall it at a later date. Wiznotes understands that the users are entering information, not just so that they can retrieve it at a later date, but in order to help them learn that information for their course. Therefore there are productivity features such as tables that actually test the users. After a student enters information into a table, she can than simply change the table to go into 'test' mode and the table will test her on the information that she entered. It actually does much more than that. Wiznotes remembers which items she answered incorrectly so that when she is tested again, the random items presented to her will be weighted to test her more often on the items that she does not know so well yet.

    This is just one small example of how Wiznotes helps students to actually learn what they write notes about. From feedback we get from students we hear that they very much like the collapsible sections that Wiznotes has. A user can mark that she knows very well a few paragraphs of her notes - then those paragraphs will collapse and only a title will be displayed. This is extremely useful when students review their notes before their exams.

    There are many more features presented in demo videos at http://www.wiznotes.com/ . I hope this answers your question.

  5. Aibek
    October 28, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    is this the one, http://www.wiznotes.com/ ?

  6. Eli Cohen
    October 26, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    More and more students are finding Wiznotes to be useful software for taking notes. It allows students to not only take notes, but is a productivity tool to help them learn whatever they are studying. There is a special price for students in university or college - FREE!

    Eli Cohen
    Mesoraware (Wiznotes is a division of Mesoraware)

  7. Eli Cohen
    October 26, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    More and more students are finding Wiznotes to be useful software for taking notes. It allows students to not only take notes, but is a productivity tool to help them learn whatever they are studying. There is a special price for students in university or college - FREE!

    Eli Cohen
    Mesoraware (Wiznotes is a division of Mesoraware)

    • Aibek
      October 28, 2010 at 11:14 am

      is this the one, http://www.wiznotes.com/ ?

    • Eli Cohen
      November 6, 2010 at 10:47 pm

      Yes!

    • Jessica Cam W.
      October 29, 2010 at 6:26 am

      Can you explain more why students should use this over other free software for taking notes, such as Evernote? And how does it enhance productivity?

    • Eli Cohen
      November 6, 2010 at 11:16 pm

      Most note taking software allows users to save information digitally and then recall it at a later date. Wiznotes understands that the users are entering information, not just so that they can retrieve it at a later date, but in order to help them learn that information for their course. Therefore there are productivity features such as tables that actually test the users. After a student enters information into a table, she can than simply change the table to go into 'test' mode and the table will test her on the information that she entered. It actually does much more than that. Wiznotes remembers which items she answered incorrectly so that when she is tested again, the random items presented to her will be weighted to test her more often on the items that she does not know so well yet.

      This is just one small example of how Wiznotes helps students to actually learn what they write notes about. From feedback we get from students we hear that they very much like the collapsible sections that Wiznotes has. A user can mark that she knows very well a few paragraphs of her notes - then those paragraphs will collapse and only a title will be displayed. This is extremely useful when students review their notes before their exams.

      There are many more features presented in demo videos at http://www.wiznotes.com/ . I hope this answers your question.

    • Jessica Cam W.
      November 24, 2010 at 6:13 am

      The test features sounds nice. I might check it out since it's free for students. Thank you for your explanation!

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