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Can I add notes and highlighting to my G-Book®, and print out its pages?

Annotating

Yes! If you use the free, downloadable Adobe Reader (version 7 or later), you can add comments to most G-Books. Adobe Acrobat and some third-party pdf readers also include annotation features, as do some of the pdf apps available for tablets. If a particular G-Book's license restricts annotation, it will be clearly indicated in the item's description in our store. Look for the label Annotate Pages: Yes, in Adobe Reader 7+, Acrobat 7+, or similar text. As this article is being written, all our current G-Books permit annotation, like this:

annotated page

We won't cover Adobe Reader's commenting features in full, but here's a quick introduction to get you started. The annotation features were introduced with version 7, which was used to prepare these instructions. Later editions might change the location or function of some of the tools we discuss here.

First, choose View | Toolbars and click Drawing Markups. Then repeat and select Commenting. (If you can't select these toolbars, first choose View | Show Toolbars and try again.) These two toolbars contain the commenting tools you'll most likely be using (though there are more, like adding Stamps to your books). You'll also see how to access these markup tools from the Tools menu, but opening the toolbars makes the tools easy to recognize.

Now refer to the numbered items in the illustration above as you read below:

  1. This is a text box. Let's use the Tools menu to find it. Choose Tools | Drawing Markups, and click Text Box Tool (notice how the same tool is also selected on the Drawing Markups toolbar). Now draw a box of the approximate size you need and just type your text note. When you're done, right click on it and choose Properties. You can adjust the border and color here. If you want to use these settings for future text boxes, right-click the text box again and click Make Current Properties Default. This last step lets you customize each of your markup tools and will save you tons of time if you plan to do a lot of markup.

  2. This is a callout. Choose Tools, Drawing Markups, and click Callout Tool. Then click the point in the text where you want the callout's arrow to point. An arrow and callout box appears. Type in your comment. When you're done, click outside the callout box. Now you can grab the box and reposition or resize it. You can also set its properties and defaults as explained in the previous step.

  3. This is a block of text highlighted using the Rectangle tool. Choose Tools, Drawing Markups, and click Rectangle Tool. Notice that the middle tool on the Drawing Markups toolbar switches to indicate Rectangle Tool. Also click the small arrow next to it and see that it opens a menu of related tools that you can select. But for now use the Rectangle tool to click and drag a box around the text you'd like to highlight. You can adjust the position and size after you first draw the box. The first time you do this you'll want to right-click and select Properties, then adjust the color, opacity, and borders of the rectangle. Then right-click again and set them as defaults so you'll never have to make these adjustments again.

  4. This is a highlight drawn with the Line tool. This will most likely be the main tool you'll use, if highlighting text is your main objective. This highlight tool is for G-Books without searchable text (currently, most G-Books are like this). Because they contain only graphical images of text you can't use Adobe Reader's Highlight Text tool on the Commenting toolbar as a text highlighter. Instead, on the Drawings Markups toolbar, switch from the Rectangle Tool (using that small arrow to its right) to the Line tool (or just select the Line tool from the Tools | Drawing Markups menu). To draw straight lines highlighting your text, hold down the Shift key and drag a line through the middle of the first line or partial line of text you want to highlight, as if you were trying to strikeout the line. When you release the mouse, the default line will appear as if you struck out the text. Now transform the characteristics of the line by right-clicking on it and choosing Properties. On the Appearance tab set the Thickness to something like 9 or 10 pt, set the Style to the solid line, set the Color to the color of your favorite highlighter pen (like bright green or yellow or pink), and set its opacity to something like 30%. Wait! Click and place a checkmark in the Locked box. Now click Close. Fine tune these settings until you're satisfied with the appearance of the highlight. Finally, right click the line again and click Make Current Properties Default. Now, because you set the Locked box and you set defaults for the Line tool, you can click the Line Tool once, and then highlight words and lines one after the other as you read through your entire G-Book, without having to re-select the tool each time. (When you do want to change tools, just click the new tool and use it—then click the Line Tool again when you want to resume highlighting. You can set this Locked property for other tools too.) And, if you have a tablet or a tablet PC with a digitizer pen (stylus), you can use your stylus (or your finger on a non-digitizer tablet) to highlight text just as if you were holding a highlighter pen! If you're marking up one of the text-searchable G-Books, you can indeed use the Highlight Text tool on the Commenting toolbar instead (or you can use the Line tool if you prefer). With text-searchable G-Books the Highlight Text tool will highlight the hidden text behind the image and make it easier to select multiple lines of text. You'll still see the image layer but the hidden text layer will guide Reader's highlighter.

  5. This is the pencil tool. Use it to directly doodle, draw, or handwrite notes anywhere on your G-Book pages, completely free-form. This tool is easiest to use using the stylus of a tablet PC or a graphics tablet attached to your computer, but you can also use your mouse -- or maybe even draw with your finger on a tablet. Choose Tools | Drawing Markups, and click Pencil Tool. Now draw or write with your mouse by clicking and dragging or by using your stylus. Remember you can also set the default thickness and color of the pencil lines using the Properties dialog box as just described.

  6. This is the note tool. This tool is located on the Commenting toolbar. Click Note Tool on the Commenting toolbar to select it, or choose Tools | Commenting | Note Tool. Then click where you want the note to point and drag out a box. Type your note in the box. Then resize and relocate the box (if you want), set its properties, colors, and set them as defaults if you wish. You can set the note to stay open or to pop open only when you pass the mouse over it. When you do "mouse over" the note you'll see that a wedge-like line automatically is drawn from wherever you've placed the note to the spot in the text where you first created the note. This is similar to the callout tool above, except the callouts are constantly displayed on the pages.

That should be enough to get you started in annotating your personal G-Books. Refer to the Adobe Reader documentation for more advanced commenting features.

Printing

And yes, you can print the pages of most G-Books, unless a particular book's license denies printing permission. Each G-Book's description in the store will let you know before you buy whether printing is enabled. Look for the label Print Pages: Yes, personal use only or similar text.

Here's a picture of the same commented page shown above after it was printed on an inkjet printer directly from Adobe Reader. (If you're observant you'll notice that the Notes don't print by default, while the Callouts do.) G-Books are created at the same size as the printed books, so in this case the page prints at about 5" x 7.5" unless you change the dimensions in your printer settings:

Because G-Books are sized to the printed book's size at resolutions of 200 to 300 pixels per inch, pages printed at their natural size will likewise print at 200 to 300 dots per inch, which provides good quality for most purposes, though it will probably not appear as high-res as it does on your tablet or computer display. (Some books might be restricted to a lower-resolution of printing—if so, it will be clearly stated in the book's store description.)

However: while you can print the pages of most G-Books, we recommend printing only occasional pages. G-Book pages are images, not text-based. That means you'll be printing the text and any background tinting of each page's paper color. That background color can range from white (no ink used) to beige, yellow, or brown-toned, according to the paper color of the printed book used to make the G-Book. While this produces a pleasing, photorealistic image of the original book pages, it can also use a lot of your printer's ink, not to mention paper. If you really want to read an entire G-Book on paper, well, then you might want to consider buying an original copy of the book instead. Still, if a book is especially rare to find in print form, printing out an entire G-Book might be an option you want to consider. It's our view that reading virtually on display screens is becoming nearly as pleasurable as reading a printed book, thanks to devices like the iPad that are becoming lighter, brighter, and higher resolution, while running cooler and longer between charges.