PDF course

Each lesson is designed to take one hour because we know you’re working full-time too. You can take whatever time you need, or zoom through what you already know — that’s the benefit of asynchronous learning. Instructor support and access to the course website ends a week after the last class is posted.


Video Promo | System Requirements | PrerequisitesSyllabus
Who Should Take This Course | How the Course is Presented


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Jump to Word Syllabus.


Here’s the promo video I made when I ran the first course years ago:

System/ Software Requirements

  • Adobe Reader XI (free)
  • website access
  • ability to view YouTube videos
  • email

A free trial version of Acrobat Standard or Pro XI can be used to test the advanced features in the final lesson. (Note that version 9 is very different, so it is not suitable). The Standard or Pro versions of Adobe Acrobat XI can be used instead of the free Reader version, though I emphasize that you don’t have to buy any software to complete this course.

The program works nearly identically on a Mac and a PC, so you may not notice a difference at all. Just some of the keyboard shortcuts are different (cmd vs. ctrl key).


Those who come in with some efficiency at using computers will get the most out of this course. So now is the time to brush up on these skills:

  • proofreader’s marks
  • file creation and management
  • menu options and navigation
  • mousing and keyboard navigation
  • basic word processing functions such as cut, copy, paste, undo, save as, spellcheck, bold, italic, and indenting

Syllabus — PDF Markup for Editors and Proofreaders

When and why PDFs are used                                                          Week 1

  • What is a PDF?
  • Why are PDFs used?
  • Why are PDFs used in publishing?

Features that set PDF editing apart from hard copy

  • Viewing options
  • Markup techniques
  • Drawing tools
  • Setting tool properties

Including notes

Search tool


Beyond the e-pencil, Annotations                                                        Week 2

  • Limitations
  • Stamps
  • Proofreader’s stamps
  • Dynamic stamps
  • Create and install custom stamps
  • Signatures and initials

Quality control checklist

  • Comments list
  • Sorting “comments”, type, author, date, page


File Attachment Tool                                                                               Week 3

— and looking at them/ opening them after

Select multiple objects to copy and paste

Combine objects

Access hidden toolbars

Find word count


Advanced Acrobatics                                                                              Week 4

Functions and tips for editorial pros using Acrobat Pro XI (or 9).

  • customize the toolbar
  • search several PDF files at once
  • compile files to combine reviewers’ markup
  • compare documents tool
  • apply a watermark
  • summarize comments in a PDF output (not hard copy)


Production-like skills:

  • add bookmarks to create document map (e-index)
  • add links, internal and external
  • copying and pasting PDF pages from one PDF to another
  • copying snippets/ snapshots & pasting them


[important]Jump to Word Syllabus.[/important]


Who Should Take this Course

  • Those who are too busy editing to find out new software tricks.
  • Those who are new to editing.
  • Those who are new to editing onscreen — moving from paper markup.
  • Those who have to work with writers to mark up PDFs.
  • Those who are full-time editors.
  • Those who are scared of editing onscreen.
  • Those who want to get more efficient and effective at proofreading.

Students are typically evenly split between Mac and Windows users, and between very experienced editors and those who are completely new to the practice. They range from subject and product specialists to complete generalists. While the majority of students are in North America, they have come from all over the English-speaking world. It’s a huge breadth.

How the Course is Presented

The video shows a bit of the course notes and demo videos. Lessons are posted online once a week and students access them at their convenience (before the end date, a week after the last class is posted).

Written lessons (and now: audio!) outline the what and why of the topic, then narrated demo videos show how the skill is done. (I am working on captions for the hearing impaired. Watch for those in the spring.) Finally, there are self-check exercises that lead you through the skill again and allow you to check for understanding. All three components are required to get all the course material: written/audio lesson, video demo, self-check exercises.

No marks are assigned but students may submit exercises to the instructor for feedback and/or troubleshooting. Editing skills are not assessed as the focus is on the technology, not on language or format.

Questions and discussion are encouraged — either about variations or glitches encountered on your own system, or special circumstances that apply to your editing practice. One of the benefits of taking a course is access to your fellow students. They have proven to be an excellent resource.

One thought on “PDF course

  1. Pingback: New webinar: Editing on PDF (June-July 2015) | Editorial Bootcamp

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