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The Accidental Feature: Efficient Commenting in Word 2016


Do you do a fair amount of commenting on Microsoft Word docs? If so, saving clicks is probably near and dear to your heart.

If you use Word 2016 you have at least three options for adding a comment after highlighting some text:

  1. Click into the Insert Ribbon tab, then click the Comment button.
  2. Add the New Comment button to the Quick Access Toolbar, then click it to add a comment.
  3. Click CTRL-ALT-M on Windows or +OPTION+A on a Mac to add a comment.

Not many people know about #2 or #3 – the keyboard shortcut isn’t well publicized in Word. The QAT, as its affectionately referred to apparently, creates a tiny button. On modern laptop screens, with their 2,000+ pixel widths, this holdover from Word 2007 (or earlier) isn’t the friendliest of features. And the Mac keyboard shortcut requires a contortion of fingers that doesn’t come naturally to me, although I love keyboard shortcuts in general.

Enter the “Free Form” comment feature in Annotate PRO.

We originally created a big, friendly comment area in Annotate PRO to facilitate Google Translate – if you wanted to add a comment in two languages, you had to have somewhere to put it first before invoking Translate!

But a strange thing happened – our Microsoft Word users quickly adopted the feature and used it extensively – to add regular, plain old comments to Word documents.


Because it’s friendly, big, and faster than searching for the Comment button in the Insert tab.

In the screenshot below the user has highlighted text, then clicked into the Annotate PRO Free Form Comment text entry area where they can type (in a nice big font) their comment. When finished, they can click the blue Insert button or just TAB out of the text entry area then click the SPACE bar to add the comment.


Once the comment is added to Word it can be edited, as always.

Now Free Form Comments are doubly useful because they feed “The Feed” – making it easy to turn your off the cuff comments into reusable objects.

Free Form Commenting works on Mac, Windows, Word online and even iPad where it is doubly useful given the tiny, touch unfriendly buttons of Word on an iPad (join our iPad beta program to use Annotate PRO with your iPad).

The feature, along with the easy ability to create up to 30 reusable comments, is part of the free version of Annotate PRO. And of course you can license Annotate PRO, either individually or as an organization, to create multiple libraries of reusable comments. Organizations can even share libraries, facilitating consistency, analytics, and accountability of students to the feedback they receive.

Install Annotate PRO now, for Word and/or Google Chrome, to experiment!