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Support: Annotate PRO for Microsoft Word (2016+)

Annotate PRO is available from the Office Store for macOS and Windows computers running Word 2016.

We will continue to add to this FAQ, particularly to help our loyal customer base understand the differences from previous versions of Annotate.

We chose to launch Annotate PRO, all-new, with a basic and compelling set of features. We are eager for feedback from real users on what matters, what we should prioritize, and what we haven’t thought of…please feel free to comment on this page or any one of the FAQs we’ve included below. Thank you!

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Microsoft Word 2016 FAQ:

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?

While Microsoft Office 2016 was released to the public in fall 2015 it is continuously updated. We find many users, especially those who receive Office through their school/organization, have 'old' versions of Word 2016.

Sometimes the technology folks at an organization control the updating of Word - you can't just do it yourself.

Many of the capabilities Annotate PRO uses in Microsoft Word 2016 have improved dramatically since that September 2015 release. For instance, older versions of Word 2016 don't support showing a custom Ribbon like Annotate; instead, Annotate PRO shows up in the "Add-ins" dropdown on the Insert tab.

So update Word if you can! Here's how.

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 “” 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?

Want to create a new Library in Annotate PRO? Read on!

Annotate PRO Overall FAQ:

How do I purchase Annotate PRO for myself?

The first 30 Comments in Annotate PRO are free forever. We will also offer free content that you can use, like our Useful Quotations Library.

We aren’t charging for Annotate PRO College Edition or Legal Writing Edition yet, mostly because we want to get people using our new solution and partly because we haven’t built payment functionality!

So thank you for asking…but you can’t buy Annotate PRO! We anticipate having payments in place by the end of November 2017. Once payments are in place for individuals we will offer a 14 day free trial of all our features.

The longer it takes us to build payments the more free usage you’ll get!

Of course institutions can get going, now, with a site license to share customized libraries with all of their instructors and (potentially) students. Just contact us to get that ball rolling.

We hope to build a sustainable business with our 11trees’ solution, and so want to keep prices affordable – especially for individuals. We anticipate the following annual subscription pricing of individual licenses:

  • College Edition: $36/year
  • Legal Writing Edition: $55/year

Individuals will be able to license a “blank” Annotate PRO – to create their own libraries from scratch – for $24/year. The College Edition and Legal Writing Edition include the ability to create additional libraries.

Learn more on our pricing page.

How do I purchase Annotate PRO for my institution or organization?

This is one of our favorite questions:)

Account Setup

  • Once you have communicated your licensing needs (number of faculty, students and the content you need access to), we create an account for your institution. We set up your email domain or domains to automatically recognize users (so “”) but can also create users manually, if for instance you don’t want or need to have users sign in with their organizational email.
  • We do not yet offer Single Sign On (SSO) or LTI integration options.
  • We can suppress the Support options inside Annotate PRO for organizations who wish their users to go directly to them vs. to us.


  • Administrators of a Google Apps organization can make our Chrome app available to all users (or a subset) with just a few clicks. Because Chrome (and our app) auto-updates we have not had any issues supporting large roll-outs.
  • Microsoft is a bit different story. Users need to be on a fairly recent version of Office 2016 (ideally summer 2016 vintage or better). At many institutions, updating Office is controlled by central IT. Also, Word 2016 uses Internet Explorer 11 (IE11) on Windows machines to run apps like Annotate. IE11 is a fairly old and problematic browser at this point (Microsoft’s new browser is called Edge, but it only runs on Windows 10). Updating IE11 is important to assure a good experience with Office Add-ins like Annotate.
  • We use Google Firebase for authentication of users. After creating an account via email you will receive a verification email. Some institutions have reported that these emails (sent by Google on our behalf) go to quarantine or spam. Ideally you whitelist “” so our infrequent communications get through to your registered users.


  • We are happy to invoice for payment via check or credit card. We can pro-rate our annual license fee or even set up automatic monthly billing.
  • We are typically in touch 90 days before renewal to organize a subsequent year’s license.
  • Multi-year arrangements are an option.

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 “” to an Annotate Comment will appear as in a Google Docs or Microsoft Word comment. Automatically.

Desired Text Word 2016
Comments & Inserted Text
Google Docs
Other Platforms
Comments & Inserted Text 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<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



  • 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 Comments or Groups in Annotate PRO?


As of mid-September 2017 users can sort Groups and Comments – boom!

The screenshot below shows a user editing the College Edition Library. This image shows Manage Libraries in our web editor, but the experience is identical in our Word 2016 app and Chrome Extension.

  • Groups from Libraries you did NOT author are not sortable. That is why Custom Group2 has an up/down arrow next to it (#1 in the screenshot below) and Argument, Evidence, Organization etc. do not.
  • To sort Groups simply click on a row, ‘grab,’ drag to your desired location, and click Update in the Groups column.
  • To sort Comments for a selected Group, click the Sort button (#2 in the image below), drag Comments in the resulting pop up window, then click Update Order.
    • Users can sort Comments, even if they didn’t author them, unless the author of the content has disallowed the extending of their content.


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:

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

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.

If I create a new Comment or Group, can others at my institution use it (or see it)?


Sharing is at the Library level and you must take steps to purposefully share your content. The default is most decidedly set to "private."

To share you:

  1. Visit Manage Libraries in the Edit area
  2. Select a Library you have authored
  3. Click the Active dropdown and select "Active - shared (informal)" 

You may or may not have the privileges to take this step. Feel free to contact us if you don't see what you expect.

What is a Custom Library?

Annotate PRO is forever free and comes with a Library containing one Group and ten blank slots you can fill. You can create up to three Groups in this library for a total of thiry comments.

Paid users, and users with client institutions that have the right permissions, can create additional Libraries – each containing many Groups and Comments.

Users can select multiple Libraries for use at the same time, creating (effectively) one big Library that is searchable in a variety of ways.

Users from client institutions with the right permissions can share Libraries they create informally OR formally. You can read more about creating and sharing new Libraries in Annotate PRO for Microsoft Word 2016 and Google Chrome.

So a school or program 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.

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

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

Just Contact Us to learn more!

What does the message "Unable to save data locally..." 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.


Can I use Annotate PRO on an iPad?


Annotate PRO for Word 2016 works fantastically well on the Word 2016 iPad app.

To try it, join our iPad beta program.

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, plus the ability to draw/highlight on documents.

iPad Pro users, in particular, are delighted with the results.

We will get around to publishing our iPad/Word 2016 app so you can install through the iOS store…but there is a fair amount of red tape to doing so – maybe a holiday (2017!) present to users?

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?


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 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?


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.


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