Release Notes – Annotate PRO for Microsoft Word

Every major release of Annotate PRO for Microsoft Word will be documented here, with a high level overview of new features/fixes/capabilities and links out to any additional detail.

Click a specific date / release to open up the summary.

Checklists, Embedded Teams Support, Faster Word Online - OH MY! (May 2023)

Big update to AP for Microsoft Word!

You’ll get all the benefits, automatically. To check whether you’ve got the latest AP, click the gear icon in the AP taskpane menu, and look for “v6.2 Release Notes” in the list of options. If you don’t see it, click the Refresh button to the left of the gear icon.

AP version info in Microsoft Word


Included in this update:

  • Support for Checklists, a new AP authoring Forms feature that makes it easy to create comments you can quickly customize for each learner. Checklists are free for all users until August 1, 2023, after which you’ll need an AP+ individual license or an institutional license to utilize this simple, but powerful, extention to the comment bank concept.
  • Support for commenting on Word documents opened inside Microsoft Teams (including web and native Teams apps). Note: AP comments will be plain text only. This is a limitation of Microsoft’s, not AP.
  • Improved handling of commenting-on-top-of-other-comments. If you’ve used AP with Word for a while, you’ve no doubt seen our “We failed you! Apologies…” message. Now, AP should be smart enough to insert your comment – albeit a plain text version.
  • Bug fixes.

If you like the idea of Checklists and also use the AP Chrome Extension, consider joining the AP Beta program. Learn more here. Don’t worry, we’ll be bringing Checklists, plus a bunch of tweaks and enhancements, to AP for Chrome (and Edge!) soon.

Auto Comment + Google and Microsoft Log In (January 2022)

Minor update to greet 2022!

We’ve added one-click sign in for Microsoft and Google users. If you already have an AP account that uses a password you’ll need to continue to use that method. In the future we will support multiple forms of log in.

Based on feedback from users on our September 2021 taskpane overhaul we’ve added an On/Off button to the AP taskpane menu so you can toggle between automatically creating comment bubbles and inserting text into the body of the Word document (or a manually created bubble).

AP Word users flip back and forth constantly, so it made sense to bring this key option forward vs. keeping it in a menu.

Amongst many other workflows, being able to quickly insert AP comments into the body of a Word document facilitates using our new Presentation Skills Edition library to quickly create detailed feedback for learners while they present.

Updated Taskpane (September, 2021)
Annotate PRO taskpane for Microsoft Word

The AP Microsoft Word add-in gets a major makeover!

  • URL handling is much improved with an option to make them “print friendly” or embedded
  • Search is integrated into the pinned menu at the top of the taskpane
  • Search is full-width – no matter how wide you make the taskpane
  • Sections are condensed and the free form text area made bigger
  • Refresh has a dedicated button in the menu so you can pull down any changes to your content.
  • Options are now integrated into the lightning menu for quick access
    • We did debate moving the Inline toggle out of the taskpane. This option, now labeled Auto Comment, allows AP to insert a comment bubble AND text with just one click. There are some drawbacks to this approach. You can turn Auto Comment OFF and simply create comment bubbles yourself, the regular way, then insert comments with AP.
      If you find yourself toggling back and forth between auto comment and inserting AP text into the body of the document this might be an annoying change – now 2 clicks vs. 1 click away. Use the AP User Experience form to provide us with feedback if so.
  • Favorites appear in 2 columns to facilitate discovery and visual search
  • Settings ‘stick’ across multiple open documents
  • Lots of little improvements!

This is a sizeable release. If you experience any issues or have feedback for us, please complete an AP User Experience form.

One note: to match the AP Chrome Extension, the free form text entry area will become a premium (paid) feature starting January 1, 2022. This feature allows you to:

  1. Enjoy a nice big text area in which to write comments, then insert them into a Word document using AP’s Auto Comment feature.
  2. Automatically add those manually typed comments to your Feed – creating a history of feedback and making it easy to create more reusable comments. The Feed is a premium feature also.

The ability to create and use libraries of reusable comments remains (and will always remain) a forever-free feature of AP.

Sorting and Coloring Favorites (October 2020)
We released Sorting and Coloring of Favorite buttons across all the AP solutions. Yes!
June 27, 2018 (fancy editing, forms)

Finally! Fancy editing of Comments is here…!

Read our updated Editing Your Annotate PRO Content page and also how AP Comments appear in different solutions – like Microsoft Word vs. Gmail vs. Google Docs.

We also released the first version of AP Forms – so you can create multiple placeholders to prompt yourself or others to enter additional text.

Sharp eyed users may notice that editing is now handled by our secure website, not pages inside the Chrome Extension. The difference should be invisible to you…but it means that we now have one editing experience across Chrome, Microsoft Word, and web – making it easier for us to improve AP and create new features.

As always, feedback and ideas and constructive criticism welcome!

April 9, 2018 (The Feed, new drop down, feedback history)

Well! We’re cheating a little…we’ve had a whole lot of incremental releases since last November including:

  • The ability for individuals to license Annotate PRO (yes!)
  • The Feed
    • The Feed captures all of your choices made in Annotate PRO – giving you a heat map of where you’ve provided feedback. If you use Free Form comments in Annotate PRO for Word 2016 you can effortlessly review ALL your comments, then use those comments to create new library content.
    • You can filter by date and, with Comment Histories ON, by recipient. This feature is more effective in Google Docs and Canvas SpeedGrader because, in Word 2016, Annotate PRO uses the name specified as the owner of the document to track feedback. But it’s better than nothing! And if your students have their name in the meta data of the Word document you’ll be able to easily review all your feedback to them – across multiple documents. So the next time you’re sitting down for a student conference, calculating term grades, or writing a recommendation letter you’ll be able to scan ALL of your feedback – across multiple assignments. 
  • New drop down for zooming through your libraries
    • We’ve added a friendly green button to the Insert taskpane that makes it easy to zip through your content, seeing a preview of each comment before selecting. We’ve kept the old, group-by-group view, but plan on retiring it this summer in favor of the new, compact and speedy approach.
November 5, 2017 (v sorting and Exec Editor sharing)

Remember, remember!
The fifth of November,
The Gunpowder treason and plot;

Sorry – couldn’t resist a little Guy Fawkes Day tribute. Nothing like a holiday where you burn a dude in effigy!

So for our users in the UK: Happy Guy Fawkes!

For everyone else? Welcome to sorting!!! And also a new role: Executive Editor.

Yes. Finally. You can sort Groups and Comments.

Some caveats:

  1. Simplest case: if you authored the Library, Groups, and Comments you can sort everything.
  2. More complicated: if you’re using one of 11trees’ Libraries you can sort any/all Comments and any Groups you add. But you can’t sort the underlying Groups that came with the Library. Their author put ’em in that order for a reason!
  3. Slightly more complicated: if you’re using a Library shared with you by a colleague you may be in the same situation as #2 OR, if that colleague turned off Extensibility, you may not be able to sort/reorder anything.

See the Manage Libraries section of Annotate PRO for Microsoft Word – Edit Comment Library support page for a screenshot and further explanation. We hope it’s quite intuitive (drag, drop, click Update) but feedback always welcome.

An ‘Executive Editor’ is an institutional admin. Currently, these users need to be set by 11trees – just email us! An Executive Editor can share Libraries in a ‘formal’ way, choosing to force a Library or Libraries to show up on a user’s list of Active Libraries, even making a Library automatically ‘selected.’

This feature only applies to site license institutions with Institution or Institution+ subscriptions.

September 9, 2017 (v support for multiple libraries etc.)


Huger update for Word 2016 users!

Support for multiple Libraries, sharing Libraries, creating new Groups and new Comments is HERE!

You can read about editing your Libraries here.

Creating new Libraries is covered here.

Or, if you like to watch rather than read, check out this brief video walkthrough.

Feedback welcome!

Next up? Ordering Groups and Comment plus implementing a payments system to allow purchases.

Good news: we’ve bumped the forever-free plan to 30 Comments across (up to) three Groups. And our paid features will continue to be free until we build a payment flow.


August 4, 2017 (Updated Ribbon Buttons and Improved Comment Insertion)


In this release:

  • Updated Annotate Ribbon
  • Improved automatic insertion of comments to better preserve formatting of highlighted selection

Microsoft approved a minor update to Annotate PRO for Microsoft Word on August 3, 2017. We refreshed the icons and buttons in the ribbon – no more ‘A’ buttons for every function! The next time you use Annotate PRO for Microsoft Word 2016 you should be prompted to approve the update. It takes only a second or two.

We also released a fairly major update to the way comments are automatically added to a document. In our June 29th release we made it possible to insert a comment bubble and text from your Annotate library at the same time. Small thing? Saving a click or two, plus the half-second those clicks require, adds up fast.

To engineer this automatic addition of a comment bubble took some under-the-hood work in Microsoft Word. You wouldn’t believe what is down there! Highlighting a single word in a document and adding a simple comment creates over 1,000 lines of code. The June 29th release did not preserve formatting in a selection – which was bad. Thank you to the number of Annotate users who pointed this out.

We’ve dramatically improved our code with this feedback. There are still a few edge cases that could cause problems. Please don’t hesistate to be in touch if you receive a message from Annotate that it couldn’t insert a comment.

In the image below:

  1. New buttons! No more “every button is an A” business! And we took away the annoying and unnecessary dropdown to get to the two most important buttons (Insert and Edit).
  2. Now when you highlight formatted text, like a selection in this numbered list, and use Annotate to automatically add a comment bubble (Free Form or using your library) the formatting will be preserved.
    1. Unfortunately our process does impact users of Track Changes. Because we’re essentially copying the selection you make (including formatting), removing it, then adding it back with the comment attached. So Track Changes will show it as a deletion and an addition. You can either adjust your Track Changes settings or flip Annotate to Inline mode (click the toggle labelled Comment visible in the top right of the screenshot below) and insert a comment bubble using Microsoft’s ‘New Comment’ button.
    2. You can always click to place the cursor, avoid highlighting any text, and insert a comment without affecting any formatting. The comment will still be associated with a specific place in the document.
  3. To make sure you’re getting the latest code you might want to right-click in the Annotate taskpane area and choose Reload.


July 23, 2017 (formatting for comments + institutional support phase 1)

Major progress “under the hood” and visible to all users:

  • We’ve updated Annotate’s architecture to support multiple libraries and definition and sharing of these libraries across a client institution. This is only phase one of this new approach – ultimately all users will be able to create and use multiple libraries – for instance, maintaining libraries for specific assignments vs. general libraries etc. This first phase is in support of some of our corporate and law school customers, and does not include the ability for end-users to personalize libraries to suit their needs.
  • Of greater interest to all Microsoft Word users is continued improvement to formatting of Comments. We now support ordered lists, bold, italic, underline, carriage returns, and superscript. See this FAQ for more details.

As always, feedback welcome!

June 29, 2017 (automatic insertion of comments!)

We’ve been hard at work on our Microsoft Word 2016 Add-in. Improvements released today include:

  • Automatically created clickable links – wherever you’ve got a “http://…” or “www…” in a comment, Annotate PRO will convert the link to a clickable link.
  • Automatic creation of Comment Bubbles.
    • This is big! Okay, it only gets us back to how the original (circa 2008) Annotate for Word worked, but believe us – it was way easier to do back then. Yes, cue the violins: we’ve gone nearly blind over the last 2 weeks reverse engineering the guts of Word documents so that when you click a button or otherwise choose a Comment from your library, Annotate PRO automatically inserts a comment bubble.
    • You’ll see a toggle button at the top of the Insert page. It defaults to “Comment,” but you can flip it to “Inline” to insert comments into the body of a document.
    • Now the “Free Form Comment” box is truly valuable:
      • Click in the document to place your cursor where you’d like to add a comment.
      • Either search/choose from your Comment Library or just type in the Free Form area, then click Add. Boom! New comment. Way better than searching for the tiny “Add New Comment” button provided in Microsoft Word.
  • Dramatically improved data loading and saving.
    • Microsoft Word 2016 for Windows uses Internet Explorer 11 to run programs like Annotate PRO. Maybe you aren’t counting, but IE11 is Microsoft’s old browser. Microsoft Edge is their modern, cool browser…and using IE11 inside Word gave us fits. But we think we’ve sorted out the weirdnesses that come with using 5+ year old technology. As always, if you see anything suspicious send us an email and we’ll jump on a screenshare and diagnose the issue. As long as you’ve got the latest versions of your operating system and IE11 itself you should be fine.
June 6, 2017 (clickable links!)

Good software is all about removing friction for the user.

The first release of Annotate PRO for Word 2016 inserted plain-text into Word documents and Comment bubbles.

So a URL, like ‘,’ would appear but it wouldn’t be clickable.

We know clickable links are important to our users – writing mindful feedback and including links to more reading is a crucial capability.

So we’ve added automated link creation to our Word 2016 app.

You don’t have to do anything differently – just write URLs into your library (or use our College Edition or Legal Writing Edition libraries that are filled with pre-written feedback including links to additional resources).

Now, when you insert a Annotate PRO comment into a Word 2016 document (whether in the body of the document OR in a Word comment bubble), any “http://…” or “www…” text will be automatically changed into a clickable link.

So any user receiving a Word document with text added via Annotate PRO (either as a Word document or a PDF created from that Word document) will see a clickable link.

So the process is:

  1. Select/find a comment (notice that the link is just plain text):
  2. Revel in the beauty of your one-click feedback complete with a lovely, clickable link for your audience:
March 30, 2017 (New menu + Google Translate integration)

Lots of polish and speed improvements in this release:

  • Updated menus to clarify functions.
  • Improved messaging on Edit Library (to clarify length restrictions)
  • Search box clears on click
  • Tab order optimized for speed
  • Free Form Comment box to facilitate Google Translate

Also…Google Translate is now available…

While Google Translate is no silver bullet, it has become far more accurate over the last six months. Our goal is to make it easier for teachers to provide feedback in a different language and, crucially, to provide dual language feedback.

So you could respond to a student in English but include a translation into their first language.

  • Open the Translation (beta) panel and choose the language of origin and the destination language. Both default to English.
  • Choose Single or Dual, to indicate whether the Comment should be just translated (Single) or provided in its original form and with a translation (Dual).
  • Search, type in the Free Form panel, or click a Favorites button to add a Comment.
March 2, 2017 (Annotate PRO for Word 2016 LAUNCH!!!)


It’s been a long time coming. The Old Skool Annotate for Word went offline in August of 2015, with support continuing for existing customers. Why?

Clearly we needed to build on more modern technologies, just then emerging from Redmond (Microsoft HQ). More than half our users were Mac users, and the new Microsoft Office 2016 for Mac didn’t support the technology we’d used previously.

We wanted elegance, cloud libraries, institutional libraries for sharing…

It’s taken a long while. Emails from diehard Annotate powerusers kept us going…

So what does the ‘new’ Annotate PRO look like?

  • FULL TEXT SEARCH! Yes, type into the search box and Annotate PRO will surface matching comments (either custom or default).
  • Access to your Favorites from the taskbar.
  • Much nicer editing of the library. Much. Nicer.
  • Cloud library – log in to Annotate PRO from any Microsoft Word 2016 – Mac, Windows, and soon iPad.
  • Ability to drag the entire taskpane and place it next to the Word window – great for dual monitor users.
  • Free to all users through June 30, 2017.

What have we given up?

  • Minimal Ribbon on Windows and no Ribbon/menu on macOS – Annotate’s library is accessed from a ‘taskpane’ now.
  • Persistence of Annotate’s buttons. You must open Annotate in each document you work on. You can’t just pin the taskpane open (hopefully that ability will come from Microsoft in time…some Outlook Add-ins have it now).
  • One click insert-comment-bubble-plus-Annotate-text. You have to first create an empty Word comment bubble, then choose your Annotate Comment. In other words, Annotate just sticks the Comment wherever your cursor currently resides. Annotate can’t create a comment bubble for you. Again, we hope Microsoft add more capabilities to their new approach to extending Word/Office.

Phew! Feedback very welcome.