In Notability, which you can scan a document, insert or mark responses, store. Organize documents, open shared documents from a teacher, and share new. In Settings menu, go to “Handwriting” and enable “Palm detection” 3. Set up folders for different subjects to organize and file notes (electronic binder): a. Tap on the plus sign. Themes – Change the look and feel of Notability. Default note title – Choose a title and include date & time. Automatic palm detection can be turned.
Individuals with dyslexia, ADHD, learning disabilities, and other special needs may often benefit from using PDF annotation/note taking apps. Annotating one’s reading is so useful in a myriad of ways and can benefit the reader not only while they read but afterwards as well.
For me, reading textbooks, scholarly articles, and more has always been a challenge. I have the attention span the size of a sesame seed, so reading dry text was something I never excelled in. However, in college, I discovered I greatly benefited from writing out the text, highlighting, underlining, defining vocabulary, paraphrasing, (aka “annotating”) when reading, as it made me more active while reading. However, there were 2 major problems:
- I often wasn’t able to write in my rented textbooks.
- So I’d write out a majority of the text, which would take hours and hours. Then I would go through and annotate the text IF I had time/energy. Blah.
Okay, so you may be wondering, “Are you a dinosaur?! Didn’t you have computers and scanners when you were in college? Don’t you know you can just scan the text, print it, or mark it up on a computer?” Those are all fair questions, but well, I didn’t want to ask someone to scan a million pages for me every day…Plus, there were limits on how many pages to print…and I’m sure I could keep coming up with excuses, but let’s just get back to the exciting world of annotations!
Palm Detection Notability App
Dave Stuart Jr. wrote an interesting article on the importance of annotations and how to make them effective. In his article he wrote an analogy, “The core idea is that annotation should help the reader during and after reading. It should serve as the leaving of cyanide-laced breadcrumbs…because breadcrumbs alone get eaten by birds, while cyanide-laced breadcrumbs leave a nicely traceable, bird-covered trail.”
Later on, Dave provides readers with tips on how to write annotations effectively:
Notability Palm Detection Not Working
- First, start with the end in mind. What is the purpose of reading this text?
- If purpose for reading is to learn the content:
- Summarize a sentence or paragraph
- Paraphrase a sentence or paragraph
- Circle and define keywords
- If purpose is to end by responding to a specific prompt:
- Annotate toward that prompt. “If you’re being asked to evaluate, make evaluative annotations. If you’re being asked to analyze, make analytical annotations.”
- If you or your students aren’t sure how to define “evaluate” or “analyze”, check out this handy dandy A-List: Essential Academic Words by Jim Burke.
- If purpose for reading is to learn the content:
- Annotate while you read.
- This may seem unnecessary, but for many individuals (especially with learning disabilities) they’ll find their “eyes read the text but their brains never did.”
For more helpful tips on close reading, annotating and more, check out Harvard University’s article on Interrogating Texts: Six Reading Habits.
Now that you’ve read up on the benefits of annotating and how to do it effectively, etc., let’s dive into some apps that allow us to annotate and better interact with text!
3 Apps for Annotating/Note Taking
1. Explain Everything
Looking for an iPad app to make taking notes easier? Explain Everything allows you to do just that and much, much more! According to the app’s description, “If you cannot do it with Explain Everything, it probably cannot be done!”
While using Explain Everything, users can:
- Animate their thinking
- Create slides using an infinite canvas, use a laser pointer, draw in any color, add shapes, text, videos, images, audio files
- Rotate, move, flip, scale, copy, paste and lock any object added to the stage
- Record everything they do within the app (even yourself while using the front-facing camera) to create high-quality, creative and valuable content for others to learn from
- Enjoy variety of import and export features
- If your document is any major format and in the cloud or on device, it can be imported into this app
- Innovative instructional design
- “Students can import an existing presentation, draw, and highlight over the top while verbally explaining, and export a movie that encapsulates their understanding much better than mere slides.”
- Teachers can prepare lessons, tutorials, guides of any kind and upload them as videos to Vimeo or YouTube to share with others
- To learn more about Explain Everything and how it could benefit you as a student, teacher, parent, etc. click here.
2. Skitch by Evernote
Looking for an app to help move your projects along faster? The developers of Evernote have also released Skitch, an app where you “Snap. Mark up. Send.” The idea is to get one’s point across with fewer words using annotation, shapes, and sketches.
While using Skitch, users can:
- Snap, mark up and send pictures instantly
- Quickly annotate images from camera roll
- Add highlights and other annotations to PDFs
- Examples of how to use Skitch:
- Take a picture of a diagram on a powerpoint or notes on the board and label them in the app!
- Open a PDF and annotate changes to provide clear feedback.
- To learn more about Skitch and how it could benefit you as a student, teacher, parent, etc. click here.
Notability is a “powerful, yet wonderfully simple note-taking and PDF annotation.” With Notability, students, teachers, and professionals are able to take notes, sketch ideas, annotate PDFs, mark up images, record lectures, provide audio feedback and more.
With Notability, users can:
- Write naturally:
- Handwrite and sketch with beautiful ink
- Write smoothly and quickly with zoom-writing
- Automatic Palm Detection on iPad allows users to write naturally with hand on screen
- Type anywhere:
- App features full-featured typing with a wide range of fonts, sizes, colors
- Outlines and text boxes help you quickly capture and organize ideas
- Highlight typed text
- Import and annotate PDFs
- Review and give feedback with audio recordings
- Notes automatically link to recordings, so during playback, you can watch your notes animate along with the recording, or tap them to get to the spot that needs clarifying.
- Organize and share notes
- And so much more!
- To learn more about Notability and how it could benefit you as a student, teacher, parent, etc. click here.
The iPad is perfectly suited for an activity such as handwriting. The screens are large, the bezels provide a good rest for your palm, and everything is just laid out so well. Of course, you’ll need some great apps in order to do all of this so here are the best handwriting apps for the iPad! If you have an Android device, our sister site has a great list of the best note taking apps for Android!
[Price: $0.99 with in-app purchases]
First on our list is Jotter. This handwriting app is a fairly simple app that lets you do pretty much what it says it does which is let you jot stuff down. It does come with unique features like a pen that writes thinner or thicker depending on your writing speed, highlighter functions, zoom, iCloud support, and much more. It’s relatively inexpensive at $0.99 with the in-app purchases consisting mostly of various types of paper you can use.
MyScript Calculator isn’t your usual handwriting app. Instead, it’s actually a calculator that lets you jot down equations which it will then solve. It’s not overly powerful and it can’t do your advanced calculus homework, but simple things and a good deal of algebra shouldn’t be too much trouble. It’s a totally free application and one of the more unique uses of handwriting we’ve seen.
Notability is one of the more powerful and popular handwriting apps available on the iPad. It has a host of features for all kinds of writing styles and includes a split view so you can browse documents or other PDFs and take notes simultaneously. It also features various fonts, colors, and sizes as well as PDF annotation (including signing PDFs), palm detection to avoid any accidents, and plenty of other features. It’s a tad expensive, but there are no in-app purchases.
[Price: $4.99 with in-app purchases]
NoteLedge is a note taking app that was developed specifically for the iPad. It includes some decent features such as a full set of stylus options including pencils, crayons, and watercolor which makes this app good for taking notes or drawing if you want. It has palm detection to help minimize errors and there are even some unique features such as audio and video recording. It’s a bit expensive, especially considering it has in-app purchases, but the feature set is solid.
Notepad+ is a powerful note taking application with a ton of features and a decent price. Some of the features include the ability to annotate PDF files, adding titles to notes, creating a virtual whiteboard, and plenty of others. This one aims for those who need to take notes during things like business meetings, lectures, and conferences and provides a lot of features specifically for those folks. There are also no in-app purchases.
Notes Plus is a bit more obscure of an application despite being one of the first note taking applications available after the iPad’s first release. It does have a solid set of features, including the option to use handwriting or typed text. You can also upload to Dropbox, insert images into notes, palm rejection, and zoom for close up writing. It can also convert written text to typed text if you need it. It’s a bit expensive and newer versions haven’t hit the mark with reviewers, but it’s a decent app nonetheless.
[Price: $9.99 with in-app purchases]
Noteshelf is another popular note taking application with handwriting support built right in. The one has a lot of the standard stuff like palm detection, and various customization features like notebook covers and more. However, the real unique stuff is in the security and organization. You can set passwords to protect your notes from prying eyes and the organization features are similar to that of something like Evernote. The in-app purchases are fairly innocuous and shouldn’t spur too much anguish.
Note Taker HD
Note Taker HD is another note taking app that’s a little more obscure than others. It aims at those who need these apps for business, academia, and similar occupations and activities. It features some decent organization that lets you tag notes in order to easily categorize them. It also supports PDFs, diagrams, and plenty of other rich content to make your notes really sparkle. It even has support for AirPlay. There are also no in-app purchases.
[Price: Free with in-app purchases]
Last, but certainly not least on our list is Penultimate. This is a wildly popular note taking application and it also happens to support handwriting. It’s developed by the same team that does Evernote so you know it’s pretty good. It features support for various styli along with a lot of the same features you’ll find in Evernote. That includes its hallmark organization features. It’s free to download so there’s no harm in trying it out. It’s also perfect for those who also use Evernote.