Moodle: Grade assignments with Annotate PDF

Instructors can now provide detailed feedback on Moodle assignment submissions without downloading them using the Annotate PDF tool. This article explains how to enable and use Annotate PDF to grade student work. Annotate PDF option works best when students submit their work in a single PDF file, and this article also explains how to ensure this.

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

  • a teacher role in a Bryn Mawr Moodle course (i.e., Instructor of record, Other editing teacher, Non-editing teacher)

Enable annotate PDF for an assignment

The steps below assume you are creating a new Assignment. To enable this feature on an existing Assignment, open it, click the gear icon, and choose Edit Settings, then skip to step 4.

  1. Turn editing on in your course (use the button located at the top right of your course’s main page).
  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 remaining settings as needed, then click Save and Return to Course.

Mark with annotate PDF

Teachers can highlight, write, type, add stamps, and post notes in a PDF document submitted by a student when Annotate PDF is enabled. They can use a mouse, trackpad, or WACOM tablet to make handwritten markings when using a computer or an iPencil, stylus, or finger when grading on a iPad or other tablet.

To use Annotate PDF:

  1. Click on the assignment in your Moodle page to open it.
  2. Under the summary of submissions and grading status, click Grade.
  3. Submissions will open one at a time in an annotation window as shown below.
    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 at the top of the window to mark the submission.
    Screenshot of toolbar for adding annotations
  5. Enter the Grade and any overall Feedback Comments in the pane to the right of the annotation window. In addition to typing feedback, you can add files and links, or record short audio (microphone button) or video (camera button) clips.
    Screenshot of feedback box, with the grading option appearing at the top left
  6. Click Save Changes to save as you go and Save and Show Next when you are ready to proceed to the next submission.


  • 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 using the link in the pane to the right of the annotation window and add annotations outside of Moodle.
  • To save a copy of your annotations and feedback outside of Moodle, click the Download Feedback PDF link beneath the Feedback Comments box.

Ensure students submit good PDFs

The Annotate PDF feature only works with PDF files. If students submit files in other formats, Moodle will try to turn them into PDFs so that you can mark them, but this conversion process does not work reliably or well. For best results when using Annotate PDF, have your students save their assignments as a single PDF file before they upload them

  • You can force students to submit assignments as a single PDF file using the settings recommended in this article.
  • Students may not know that they can save, export or print as PDF format from almost any 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:
    • On-campus students can scan documents as PDFs using the Canon multifunction copiers. 
    • Free smart phone 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