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Annotate PRO FAQ

General FAQ:

Questions that apply to all versions of Annotate PRO (Windows, macOS, Microsoft Word, Google Chrome, College Edition, Legal Writing Edition).

Search the FAQ:

How do I purchase Annotate PRO?
What is a Custom Library?

Annotate PRO is free and comes with ten Comments (focused on college/high school argumentative writing) that you can quickly change to suit your needs.

User can purchase additional libraries that we created and maintain: College Edition, Legal Writing Edition, and others to come.

Most powerfully, schools can design their own libraries that we can automatically provide to their teachers and students.

By simply creating an Annotate PRO account at a site license institution, new users will automatically get the library or libraries intended.

So high schools could develop a library specific to their curriculum, using our College Edition as a starting point, then automate sharing of that library to all teachers.

The following year the school district might add a library intended for middle school teachers, scaffolding feedback and aligning with the high school curricula and Annotate PRO library.

Another school might develop a library specific to peer review or English Language Learners (providing dual language responses, for instance).

A university might create a library intended for peer tutors and TAs, to speed training and improve consistency amongst many graders.

Schools can author their libraries using Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets using our content as a starting point. We review the library, then upload to our servers and do some behind the scenes work – all within a couple of days. Then BOOM! Potentially hundreds of teachers (and students?) can be using the library to create better feedback more quickly.

Just Contact Us to learn more!

Can my school purchase a customized version of Annotate for Word?

We regularly build customized versions of Annotate for First Year Writing programs, high school English departments, Writing Across the Curriculum initiatives and similar. Customizations can be simple, for instance replacing the references to a writing handbook or Purdue’s OWL website with a specific resource, or more detailed. Please use the Contact Us link in the menu to find out more.

Can I format Comments (bold, italic etc.)?

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.
Can I reorder buttons in Annotate PRO?

This is not currently possible but we are working towards a much more powerful implementation of Libraries and Groups with a targeted release of initial features (which probably won’t include sorting) of September 1, 2017.

We are depending on the powerful Search feature to making ordering of a Comment Library almost unnecessary. Feedback welcome! Click here for a longer discussion of current state vs. goals.

How do I add links to Comments?

Adding links is a fantastic way to follow the “bite, snack, meal” approach to user experience design.

In the Comment, give the user a concise overview of the issue or compliment (bite). Then give them a link to more detail – that they need to want to pursue (snack). And then, perhaps, in the webpage you provide, give the user additional options to learn: videos, exercises etc. (meal).

So how do you add them?

Just type them in. Like: www.yourgreatlink.com.

As of June 29, 2017 our Microsoft Word add-in will automatically turn plain links like the above into clickable links. Woot! You don’t even have to type the “http://” part – just www.whatever.com.

Google Docs is smart enough to do this on its own if you type a space after a link.

For more on formatting text, see our FAQ on the subject – so you can bolditalicize etc.

What does the message %22Unable to save data locally...%22 mean?

What does it mean if you fire up Annotate PRO in Microsoft Word 2016 and see the message at the right?

Annotate PRO, like many modern web apps, stores data locally – for speed of access and to power features.

Some browsers may have the ability to store data locally turned off. Annotate PRO will detect this situation and flag you…

What data are we storing? Your user ID, the Comment Library you’re using, and similar data. No passwords or personal info.

To use Annotate you’ll have to give your browser permission to store data locally. So far, we only know of this issue affecting Windows users, so the following instructions are specific to Internet Explorer 11.

Here’s how:

  1. Open Internet Explorer 11.
    1. “What,” you exclaim? I don’t use that browser!!! Oh, but you do – Microsoft Word 2016 uses it to present Add-ins like Annotate PRO, Wikipedia, and any other app running inside Office.
  2. Go to Settings and then Internet options.
  3. Click on the Advanced tab and scroll all the way to the bottom of the resulting list.
  4. Find Enable DOM Storage (it’s 10 or 15 items from the bottom) and make sure it is checked.
  5. Click OK and go back to Microsoft Word.
  6. Close the Annotate PRO taskpane by clicking the ‘x’ in the top right corner (same row as Annotate PRO) in the screenshot showing the original message above).
  7. Reopen Annotate PRO. The message should be gone and you should be able to proceed.

If you’re still blocked from using Annotate PRO please make sure both Internet Explorer 11 and Microsoft Word 2016 are updated to their latest versions (which you may or may not be able to do, given institutional policies and controls), then contact us for help. We’ll jump on a screenshare and sort it out.

 

Why would I want my students to use Annotate PRO?

Peer review is one the greatest under-used pedagogical strategies.

But student writers, no matter their level, often struggle with providing coherent, constructive feedback.

Annotate PRO can dramatically improve students’ responses to each other, and their assessment of their own work, by providing them with the language of response.

They can highlight some text in their own or a fellow student’s work, then search a Comment Library for an appropriate response.

We can work with your institution to design a Comment Library specifically for peer review, so that the observations (the text the student chooses) is written at the appropriate level and includes questions to help the student dig further into the particular issue.

For instance, a Comment concerning argument might begin:

  • Your writing could be stronger here – I don’t think you really believe what you’re saying.

The peer reviewer would select the above text, but then be prompted to continue, making suggestions to help the student writer state their opinions more vehemently along with ideas to improve the logic of the underlying argument.

At the very least, having access to the Comment Libraries used by their faculty will further demystify writing and help them understand more deeply what good writing looks and feels like.

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Can I use Annotate PRO on an iPad?

Soon!

Like, summer 2017 – just in time for the new academic year.

Microsoft, to their great credit, have made their cool new Apps for Office solution work on Office for iPad, too.

So if you’ve got Microsoft Word on your iPad you’ll be able to use Annotate PRO there – same library, same full-text search.

Does Annotate PRO work on a Mac?

The latest version of Annotate PRO works on Microsoft Word 2016 – including Windows and Mac. You can also use Annotate PRO with Word 2016 online.

iPad is coming soon!

Can I use Annotate PRO on a Chromebook?

Yes!

You can install from here. Or get your school’s Google Suite administrator to add Annotate PRO to all teacher accounts with just a couple of clicks…

We can add your institution’s email domain (like YourISD.edu) to our database and every user will automatically get a specific Comment Library or Libraries.

Automation is so cool!

Can I use Annotate PRO on an Android tablet?

No.

You can try to use Word Online on your tablet, but your experience will vary with the version of Android, power of your tablet etc. We don’t anticipate it will be a great experience.

And we aren’t aware of any plans on the part of Microsoft to bring Office to Android tablets.

Google, for its part (as the creators of Android) have been working for years to bring ChromeOS and Android together.

ChromeOS is based on the Chrome browser and is the operating system behind millions of Chromebooks. Chromebooks, by very definition, will never run Microsoft Office. Android tablets cannot run Chrome Extensions, either – which means you can’t use the Annotate PRO for Google Chrome Extension.

 

Can I swap out Annotate PRO Comment Libraries?

No – not yet.

Backstory: some of our Annotate for Word powerusers had discovered a hack (clever!) that allowed them to save off versions of their library as local databases. So they could have one for a Fall assignment, another for Spring assignments – implying that they were writing feedback specific to assignments.

Annotate PRO currently supports the use of ONE library: College Edition (free), College Edition, Legal Writing Edition.

We anticipate adding cloning and sharing of libraries – much easier to do now that we’re in the cloud and working with modern technologies.

Would this feature be useful to you? Would you prefer to share libraries with colleagues before having the ability to flip from library to library? Or just have sections within a library to support different assignments (or other purposes)?

Annotate PRO for Word 2016:

What version of Word 2016 do I need to happily use Annotate PRO?

Microsoft has become a lot cooler and competent over the last few years…but their naming conventions for Office still leave a lot to be desired.

  • Office 365 is the name for a subscription version of Office. It is the same thing as saying “Office 2016,” at least for now.
  • Office 2016 is the latest Office product from Microsoft.
  • If your installation of Office 2016 is managed by a central IT group your ability to update might be limited.
  • Windows versions of Word 2016 all start with “16” but Mac versions start with “15.” Go figure.

Please check out our post on updating Word to make sure you’ve got the latest version possible.

To see what version you’ve got:

  • Windows 7 / 8 / 10:
    • Open Word 2016
    • Click File > Account or Help from the list on the left
    • You should see your
  • macOS
    • Open Word 2016
    • Click WordAbout Word in the app menu
    • Your version should be displayed.

For help see this Microsoft support page.

In general, you should be in good shape if your version of Microsoft Word is at least:

  • Windows 7 / 8 / 10:
    • Version 16.0.6741 or later
  • macOS:
    • 15.20 or later
  • Office Online:
    • January 2017

Windows users need to make sure to update Internet Explore 11, also. All Word Add-ins use IE11 to run.

Ideally you have IE11 set to automatic updates. Here’s how:

  1. Open IE11 (Windows 10 users may not even know they have it, since Microsoft Edge is the default browser).
  2. Click the Tools menu or cog icon in the top-right of the screen.
  3. You’ll see the version number of your install and (hopefully) a checkbox that allows you to install updates automatically. If you don’t see this checkbox it’s because your central IT folks have set up some other process for updates.
How do I update Word 2016?

Microsoft have become the ‘cool’ hardware company, all of a sudden, and are making huge strides with their solutions. This isn’t your daddy’s anti-competitive Goliath smugly crushing competitors by undercutting on price while making billions from Windows.

From our perspective though, confirmed after talking to many Microsoft Word users, Microsoft’s product naming conventions and update processes need some improvement.

After all, we’re now used to iPhone updates that just happen. You don’t even have to do anything.

The first thing to know is that moving to the latest version of Office (Office 2016 as of the writing of this article) is free for educators and important because support for older versions of Office is going away.

“Office 365” refers to a subscription model for buying  Office 2016, not a product exactly. Ah, it’s very confusing. We imagine that Microsoft will drop the “2016” bit and just go with Office 365 soon, requiring an annual subscription vs. still offering a one-time purchase option.

But your computer may be owned and controlled by your school or employer. In which case upgrading or even updating Office may be outside of your control.

Which creates challenges for developers like 11trees – there are many permutations of Microsoft Word.

There is only one Google Docs.

Long-winded way of saying: who knows exactly what flavor of Office you’ve got and whether you can update it.

Updating is important, though, since Microsoft release updates to Office all the time. And many of them affect add-ins like 11trees’ Annotate PRO and Q for Success.

For instance, if you have a circa September 2015 version of Office 2016 you won’t see Annotate or Q for Success tabs inside of Word. That version of Office didn’t yet support add-ins creating tabs.

You have to go to Insert, then My Add-ins every time you want to use one of our solutions.

So how do you tell what version of Word you’ve got? And whether you can update it?

Here are the key resources for updating all versions of Office:

If you don’t seem to have the ability to update you either have a volume license install or your school/company is using Group Policy to manage your updates.

Windows users update process:

  1. Open Word and create a new document (if you aren’t looking at a document already).
  2. Go to File > Account.
  3. Under Product Information, choose Update Options > Update Now.
    NOTE: You may need to click Enable Updates first if you don’t see the Update Now option right away.
  4. Close the “You’re up to date!” window after Office is done checking for and installing updates.

macOS users update process:

  1. Go to Help > Check for Updates
    1. IMPORTANT: If you don’t see Check for Updates on the Help menu, download the latest version of the Microsoft AutoUpdate tool from https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/3133674. Run the tool and then start over at step 1. The Check for Updates option now appears on the Help menu.
  2. Choose manual checks, automatic checks, or automatic downloads and installations – depending on your personal preference. We’d suggest “Automatically Check.”

 

Why change Annotate from the old version? What has changed?

We created the first version of Annotate in 2008…and thousands of teachers and students have benefitted since.

The first version only worked on Windows; we added a Mac version in around 2011 and soon half or more of our users were on a Mac (walk into any coffee shop and you’ll see the same thing).

Annotate was always caught between Mac and Windows, because Microsoft perennially ignored Mac. We were using two completely different code bases, plugging into Microsoft Word the only ways possible at the time.

Microsoft has completely overhauled the way that developer can extend Office. There are many, many benefits to the change but also a few drawbacks if you’re a diehard Annotate user.

Two steps forward (the good):

  • Modern look and feel.
  • Support from Microsoft – they’re serious about this new approach.
  • Will work on iPad!  We’re not there yet, but this will be a pretty easy addition, we think.
  • Cloud libraries: wherever you can log into Microsoft Word (using Word Online, for instance) you can use your Annotate PRO library. No more worrying about work vs. home computers, or Mac vs. Windows.
  • Full text search: instead of searching the ribbon for the right comment, you can just start typing and Annotate PRO will surface matching comments. Zing! Pow!
  • Easy sharing with fellow faculty and students. We can automate assigning custom libraries to users with specific email addresses. So everyone logging in with an “@youruniversity.edu” address can automatically get a custom library and/or access to our College Edition Library.

One step backwards (the not so good):

  • No offline access. See this FAQ post for more info and to comment/complain/wish.
How to install a new Comment Library?

Annotate PRO for Google Chrome:

How can I go FASTER? Are there keyboard shortcuts?

If you’re an Annotate fan, or even just kicking the tires, you care about giving rich, personalized feedback fast.

So here are three hacks to help you go even faster:

  1. Insert comments into a Google Doc with ALT-CMD-M (Mac) or ALT-CTRL-M (PC).
    • Just highlight some text, or place the cursor where you want, and pop in a new comment bubble with this handy Google keyboard shortcuts.
  2. Pop open Annotate PRO with ALT-A. You’ll be able to start typing in the Annotate search box or can scroll down to get to Favorites.
  3. After choosing an Annotate comment from search, hit Escape (to close the Annotate Popup), then hit Space, then Tab, then Space to add the comment.
    • Adding the space changes Google Docs’ understanding of the subsequent Tab command, and makes it possible to move focus to the Comment button, which will add your comment to the document.
    • An added benefit is that clicking Space makes the comment area grow, so you can see the entire comment and quickly edit to personalize further.
Why doesn't Annotate insert a Comment sometimes?

You access Annotate by right-clicking in a text entry box on just about any website. You should see something very similar to the image at right.AnnotateRightClickMenu

There are a couple of reasons Annotate might NOT insert a comment:

  1. Annotate needs a little kick in the rear to get going, especially after first install. Try refreshing the web page (like a Google Document), then trying again.
  2. You are right-clicking in a “fancy” text-entry box. For instance, a rich text editor. There is a fast workaround: just right-click outside of the rich text entry box, choose the comment you want from the Annotate menu, then click in the rich text editor where you would like to insert your comment, and Paste. Annotate has added your choice to your clipboard, so you can paste it anywhere (even outside of Google Chrome).

Contact Us if you aren’t getting that Annotate love!

Can I use Annotate PRO with any website? Like my LMS or Gmail or Dropbox?

Annotate for Google Chrome is optimized for Google Docs, but you can use it on most websites to enter text.

Many plain text entry boxes, like editing a WordPress Post in text mode, will allow you to right-click and use Annotate to insert comments.

For instance, the screenshot below is of a Blackboard discussion – clicking the HTML button will flip the display to plain text, and Annotate can be used to insert pre-written text.

Blackboard Discussion Edit

Alternately, you can just click outside the text entry box – on the body of the webpage – and make a choice from your Annotate right-click menu. The pre-written text will be added to your clipboard, so you can just click back inside the textbox and Paste (CTRL-V or CMD-V) to insert the comment.

Both options take a split second and will help you create much more detailed feedback for students – effortlessly.

 

Can I format text (bold, italics etc.)?

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.