Moodle: Grade assignments with Annotate PDF

Instructors can now provide detailed feedback on Moodle assignment submissions without downloading them by using the Annotate PDF tool. This article explains how to enable and use Annotate PDF to grade student work. This option works best when students submit their work as single PDF files.

Before you start, you will need access to the following:

  • An Instructor of record, Other editing teacher, or Non-editing teacher role in a Bryn Mawr Moodle course

Enable annotate PDF for an assignment

The steps below assume you are creating a new Assignment. To enable this feature on an existing Assignment, click the Assignment name, click the gear icon (Actions menu), and choose Edit Settings from the drop-down menu. Then, proceed from step 4 of the following instructions.

  1. Click the Turn editing on button in your course (if it isn't already on).
  2. Click +Add an activity or resource in the course section where you wish your assignment to appear.
  3. From the list of activities, select Assignment.
  4. On the settings page, under Submission Types:
    1. Check the File Submissions box (required).
    2. Set Maximum number of uploaded files to 1 (recommended).
    3. Type .pdf in the Accepted file types box (recommended).
      Screenshot of options under section
  5. Under Feedback Types, check Feedback Comments and Annotate PDF.Screenshot of options under section
  6. Adjust the remaining settings as needed, then click Save and Display.

Mark with annotate PDF

Instructors can highlight, write, type, add stamps, and post notes in a PDF document submitted by a student when Annotate PDF is enabled. Instructors can use a mouse, trackpad, or WACOM tablet to make handwritten markings on either a computer, iPad, or other tablet.

To use Annotate PDF, do the following:

  1. Open the assignment in your Moodle course page for which Annotate PDF has been enabled.
  2. Under the summary of submissions and grading status, click Grade.
  3. Submissions will open one at a time in an annotation window.
    PDF submission appears to the left, and submission information appears to the right with the feedback box to the bottom.
  4. Select a tool from the annotation toolbar to mark the submission.
    Screenshot of toolbar for adding annotations
  5. Enter the Grade and any overall Feedback Comments. A part of your written feedback, you can add files, links, short audio (microphone button), or video clips (camera button).
    Screenshot of feedback box, with the grading option appearing at the top left
  6. Click Save Changes to save as you go or Save and Show Next when you are finished with a submission and are ready to proceed to the next one.
  7. To download a copy of your annotations and feedback outside of Moodle, click Download Feedback PDF.

Note: If the document in annotation window is blank, the conversion to PDF failed (for a file submitted in a different format) or Annotate PDF could not read the PDF file. You will need to download the file to your computer and add annotations outside of Moodle.  

Ensure students submit good PDF's

The Annotate PDF feature only works with PDF files. If students submit files in other formats, Moodle will try to turn them into PDF's, but this conversion process does not work reliably or well. For best results when using Annotate PDF, have your students save their assignments as PDF's before submission. You can also force students to submit assignments as PDF's in assignment settings.

Note: Some students may not know how to save, export, or print files as PDF's from an application. Add a link to Save a File as a PDF to your Moodle page or assignment instructions to help.

If your students need to submit handwritten work, make them aware of the following:

  • On-campus students can scan documents as PDF's using the Canon multifunction copiers. 
  • Free smartphone scanning apps allow students to create multi-page PDF documents using the phone’s camera. See Scanning documents using your smartphone for more information.


If you have any additional questions or problems, don't hesitate to reach out to the Help Desk!

Phone: 610-526-7440 | Library and Help Desk hours
Email: help@brynmawr.eduService catalog
Location: Canaday Library 1st floor