Type and Export Persian Comments with Adobe Reader

and PDF Comment Extractor

A free and easy way to make searchable annotations for Unicode PDF files

Scholars and researchers dealing with Persian texts depend on PDF format more than their counterparts in many other languages. Since it is often impossible to copy & paste or search & find specific words in a Persian PDF, it is necessary to take copious notes, whether with pen and paper or by typing up a separate Word or Text file which you have to then keep track of. PDF files become much more manageable if you take advantage of the "Comment" feature of the free Adobe Reader. Adobe Reader is one of the only PDF readers which is Unicode-compliant and allows you to type comments (annotations)  in Persian. However, Adobe is not always convenient to use if you then want to extract your comments. So, in addition to Adobe Reader, you will want the stand-alone program "PDF Comment Extractor."


Introduction to Comments

How to Add Comments

How to Extract Comments

Searching For Comments  

About the Program

Introduction to Comments

First, let's take a look at what "Comments" look like in Adobe PDF Reader. The "Comment" button is located on the far right of the menu bar. In case you don't see the menu bar, you can right click on the grey bar across the top to see toolbar options. If you have a very old version of Adobe Reader, you can download a free update of Adobe PDF Reader which has the relatively new "Comment" facility. (It should be mentioned that users in Iran will get this Access Denied message from Adobe.)

The "Comment" button is located on the far right of the menu bar.

In the picture above, a PDF file in Adobe Reader X is shown with the "Comment" button circled in red.

If you click on "Comment", the column of comments opens vertically on the right margin:

If you click on "Comment", the Comments will open.

In the picture above, the opened column of comments is displayed in Adobe Reader X.

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How to Add Comments

To add a new comment, click once on "Sticky Note" and then click once again, this time on the place in the PDF text to which this "comment" refers. A comment box will pop open automatically. Now type a comment in English and/or Persian or any language into the comment box. When done, click on the little box at the top, right corner of the comment pop-up box to close it. You can drag that comment box around so it does not obscure the text you are annotating. You can also open up the comment box again by double-clicking on it to modify your comment.

See the "Sticky Note" icon which you use to add new comments.

The picture above shows the location of the Sticky Note tool which you use to make Comments.

Now for a real example. Please download and open this example PDF file, A_Letter_Jamalzadeh_To_Taqizadeh.pdf (scanned from the book and republished here with the kind permission of the editor) with comments in Persian and English so you can experience it.

This could be a handy feature, right? However, the comments are not much use if you need to open each PDF on your computer to see which comment was where. What you want now is the ability to EXPORT the comments to Word, a plain text file, email, Google Documents, your portable storage drive, etc.

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How to Extract Comments

This section explains how to extract comments from a PDF file using a program called PDF Comment Extractor.

For this, you will need Java. Don't panic about Java. Most likely, you already have Java on your computer. It is like Flash: so many websites require it nowadays, you probably have already been prompted to download it. However, if you don't have it already or you don't know if you have it already, download Java for free.

Next, download this file: PDFCommentExtractor.jar (2.06 MB). You can download it to any location on your computer but perhaps your Desktop would be simplest so you can find it easily after download:

PDF Comment Extractor's Java Icon

The picture above shows the Java icon of "PDFCommentExtractor.jar" as it will look on your Desktop assuming you have installed Java on your computer. (If you don't see the .jar extension at the end of the file name, don't worry, it's not important at all.)

Once you have this file on your computer, run the program by double-clicking the icon. It will open immediately and look like this:

Picture of the PDF Comments Extractor interface.

The picture above shows the PDF Comments Extractor interface.

Now click on the "Open PDF" button and select the PDF file whose comments you would like to extract. (By "Open PDF", the program is asking you to select a particular PDF you have somewhere on your computer. You are not actually opening it.) If you have downloaded the example PDF mentioned above, A_Letter_Jamalzadeh_To_Taqizadeh.pdf (scanned from the book and republished here with the kind permission of the editor) which contains comments, you can use this one now in order to try out the program.

Once you have "opened" your PDF, just click on the "Extract Comments" button. All the comments in your PDF will duly appear in the white box occupying the lower half of the PDF Comments Extractor window.

You may ignore the "Extraction range" feature unless you want to limit the comment extraction to a certain page or pages of your PDF file. Otherwise, the program assumes you wish to extract all comments on all pages. (Note: for multiple custom range extractions from a single PDF, you may need to restart the program.)

Now you only need to copy and paste your comments into Word, email, etc. Be sure you do save a copy before you close the program.

The following short-cuts may be useful:

select all text  --  Windows / Linux: control a, Mac: command a ("command" key is the one with the apple)

copy text         --  Windows / Linux: control c, Mac: command c

paste text         --  Windows / Linux: control v, Mac: command v

If you decide to simply copy your extracted comments into Notepad to make a plain text file, be sure to save that as UTF-8 (Unicode), like this:

Be sure the encoding is UTF-8 when you save a text file in Notepad on Windows.

The picture above illustrates how to save a text file in UTF-8 (Unicode) on a Windows computer.

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Searching For Words and Phrases In Any File On Your Computer

The degree of success you have in using search/find to locate comments generated in Persian will depend on your computer's search capability. Some older computers are only capable of searching words within files, newer computers can locate ALMOST any word in any file on your computer like this:

Search results in Persian in Windows 7

The picture above shows the results of a search for the Persian word "فارسی" on a Windows 7 computer. The word appears highlighted in yellow in context. Caveat: Even the best computer will still not be able to find certain kinds of Persian text strings which include some known issues in Persian Computing which are being solved at this time.

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About the Program

This program comes to you courtesy of Hossein Noorikhah, a PhD student at Amirkabir University of Technology in Iran who only wanted to make life easier for Persian textual scholars. Please visit Hossein's homepage in case you would like to thank him for making the program or make a suggestion.

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This page last updated: 1 Nov 2011