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Posted by on Jul 23, 2017

How can I format Comments to make them clearer?

As of July 23, 2017 Annotate PRO for Microsoft Word and Google Docs now supports some ‘markdown’ language to format text.

This is a tricky area, because ultimately Annotate PRO’s value is as a ubiquitous solution for providing feedback – in Word, Google Docs, Salesforce, Dropbox, Canvas etc. And these different platforms have varying support for “fancy” text.

For instance, comment bubbles in Dropbox are plain text, so any special characters in your library will be inserted exactly as they are. An Annotate comment that contained “This is *bold*” would appear as “This is bold” in Microsoft Word, but as “This is *bold*” in Dropbox.

Comment bubbles in Word support some formatting. Comment bubbles in Google Docs support a little less. We’ve included a table summarizing text formatting availability on various platforms.

Our recommendation? If you’re are “all in” on Microsoft Word or Google Docs for commenting and feedback, then take advantage of these opportunities to format your text for clarity.

If you’re going to use Annotate in a bunch of different places, stick to plain text.

An example:

  • If you wanted to include some italic text and were using Microsoft Word or Google Docs, you could create a comment with _italic text_ in it. The underscores, with spaces on either side of them, tell Annotate to insert italicized text. So in both Google Docs and Microsoft Word when the text was inserted, it would be converted to italic text.
  • If you used that same comment to insert text into a Dropbox comment bubble or Google Mail email, you’d get_italic text_.

In other words, the underscores wouldn’t do anything and would be rendered as – underscores.

Sometimes a cigar really is a cigar.

It’s a bit like writing HTML – which we realize is intimidating for some. But taking this approach gives us (and you) maximum flexibility across Word and Google Docs, which is our primary goal. We will be able to add more sophistication as we go, like recognizing which environment is in use and adjusting to suit – perhaps removing special formatting if it isn’t supported.

The silver lining? To include links that appear as clickable in Google Docs and Microsoft Word, just enter the URL. So adding “www.google.com” to an Annotate Comment will appear as www.google.com in a Google Docs or Microsoft Word comment. Automatically.

Desired Text Word 2016
Comments & Inserted Text
Google Docs
Comments
Other Platforms
Comments & Inserted Text
www.google.com www.google.com www.google.com Not supported
Bold text *Bold* text *Bold* text Not supported
Italic text _Italic_ text _Italic_ text Not supported
Underline text <u>Underline</u> text Not supported Not supported
Carriage
Return
Carriage<br>Return Not supported Not supported
Ordered list:

  1. First
  2. Second
  3. Third

Regular text.

Ordered List:* First<p>* Second<p>* Third<p><br>Regular text. Not supported Not supported

 

Notes:

  • In Microsoft Word and Google Docs http, https, and www plain-text links will convert to clickable links automatically. So just enter them as plain text. You don’t even need the “http” part.
  • After inserting a comment via Annotate in Google Docs you have to hit a space bar before you can click Comment to add the text. Once you do this and click Comment, links will convert to become clickable. A super fast way to use Annotate with Google Docs is to insert a blank Google comment, then an Annotate Comment, then a space bar, then Tab and SPACE again to insert the Comment (look Ma, no mouse!).
  • The space after the asterisk for ordered lists is important. So “* First” not “*First”
    • Microsoft Word, weirdly, doesn’t support unordered lists in comments that are created programmatically. We’ll continue to look for workarounds, but for now bullets will convert to numbered (ordered) lists no matter what you do.