Looking for the best annotation software?
Whether it’s business professionals or teachers, when asked to choose between scribbled notes and a well-labeled document, we’re sure they’ll pick the latter.
Annotation software marks a document or piece of content with anything a user wants, like text, an image, shapes, signatures, and more!
A color-coded and properly labeled document helps present your thoughts clearly.
And annotation tools help you do just that.
But with hundreds of such software in the market, which one should you pick?
In this article, we’ll cover what an annotation tool is and highlight eight popular annotation software available today. We’ll go over their key features, pros, cons, and pricing to help you pick the best one.
This Article Contains:
(Click on the links below to jump to a specific section)
(includes key features, pros, cons, and pricing)
Let’s get started!
What Is An Annotation Tool?
An annotation tool is a text or drawing tool that helps you add information to text, an image, a database, or any other piece of content.
But that’s not all.
These tools can also be used on various formats such as a whiteboard or PowerPoint presentation, to annotate the selected content. And we’re not just talking about business or education content.
Annotation software is even used in fields like gene ontology!
For example, Genome annotation or DNA annotation tools help annotate the gene location in a genome.
Not the DNA that you’re thinking of!
Click on the above gif to know what we meant.
And that folks, was an example of web annotation.
What’s web annotation?
A web annotation is the addition of information to resources present on web pages.
For example, adding tags to GIFs of Korean boy bands in a blog post is an example of a web annotation.
Now, while we’re on the topic of examples…
What are annotations examples?
Since annotation is essentially just marking and adding tags to sections of content, there are tons of examples out there.
Here are a few common ones:
- Adding informative tags to an unlabeled dataset (data labeling) like a spreadsheet
- Using a line tool or a pencil tool to draw on the screen during a presentation
- Highlighting important text in a shared document with a highlighter tool
- Labeling your lunch as “do not touch” when you store it in the company fridge
(Well, maybe not that last one)
But if you think annotation is just about adding manual notes to the content, think again.
What are 3 types of annotations?
- Manual annotation: the manual annotation type is exactly what it sounds like – it covers the process of manually annotating a piece of content
- Screen annotation: the annotation of a desktop screen with the help of a screen marker software is known as screen annotation (you commonly use these during Zoom meetings and other video conferences)
- Collaborative annotation: collaborative annotation is a teaching strategy to help students develop critical thinking, reading, and writing.
Top 8 Annotation Tools In 2020
Here are the top eight annotation software that’ll make annotating your projects a cakewalk:
Widely used by 100,000+ super productive teams from startups to giants like Google, Airbnb, and Uber, it’s the only tool you’ll need for efficiently managing all your projects.
But wait… you’re looking for annotation tools.
Why would a project management tool help?
That’s because ClickUp has advanced built-in annotation features to help you with all your annotation needs. And since it’s a comprehensive project management solution, you can use it for more than just annotation tasks!
From productivity monitoring to resource management, ClickUp can handle anything you throw at it!
Let’s see why ClickUp is the best annotation tool available today:
How do you annotate?
ClickUp’s Annotation feature supports PDF file and image annotation (.png, .gif, .jpeg, .webp).
You can easily add comments to task attachments in 4 simple steps:
- Open the desired attachment within a task
- Click “Add comments” in the upper right of the preview window
- Click on the attachment preview wherever you want to add a comment
- Add comments and assign them to anyone if you want them to take immediate action
Your added comment will now appear in the comments tab next to the attachment.
Now the assigned comment will appear in the assignee’s Home tab as well as in the task’s comments section.
For added flexibility, you can even use ClickUp’s Chrome Extension for annotation and proofing documents.
You can use the Chrome extension to markup images, upload them as a task attachment or add comments to the attachment — with ClickUp everything is possible!
Other key ClickUp features
- Docs: easily create, share, and store project or company-related documents with your virtual or in-house team
- Comments: each ClickUp task offers a dedicated comment section that you can use to easily discuss and share any relevant file or links. You can even tag team members to ensure your comments aren’t overlooked.
- Collaboration Detection: know when your teammates are simultaneously adding a comment or viewing a task in real-time. This can be extremely useful to overcome some common virtual team challenges you’d face in remote project management.
- Notepad: a free space to jot down your thoughts and ideas quickly
- Mind Maps: create free form mind maps to plan and organize your project-related ideas
- User-friendly interface
- Offers a feature-rich free version
- Can easily assign tasks to team members
- Easy task management with the drag and drop feature
- Efficient resource management with more than one assignee for a specific task
- Manage and track your project timeline with intuitive Gantt Charts
- Custom Access Rights help to share your projects with clients without compromising privacy
- Can quickly find all your project resources with the Smart Search feature
- Attempt project tasks in the right order with Task Dependencies
- Agile dashboards to measure your project progress with charts like Velocity, Burnup, Burndown, and Cumulative Flow
- Can customize how you receive project notifications
- Offers app integrations with various third-party apps for seamless project management
- Available as web browser, desktop, and mobile apps
- No white-labeling available (can’t remove brand icon)
- Can’t export Dashboards
But don’t worry, at ClickUp, we’re constantly working to overcome such minor flaws.
Click here to learn more about what’s cooking in the ClickUp kitchen.
ClickUp has three pricing options:
- Free Forever Plan: includes unlimited projects and members + 100MB of cloud storage space
- Unlimited Plan ($5/user per month): supports unlimited projects and members + forms + unlimited number of integration + advanced reporting + unlimited Gantt charts
- Business Plan ($9/user per month): includes unlimited projects and members + unlimited Proofing + timesheets + two-factor authentication + sprint points + Google single sign-on + custom exporting
Filestage is a good proofing and annotation tool to help you annotate a PDF file as well as videos and audios.
Filestage key features
- Add annotation to comments with markup tools
- Add attachments to include reference files in comments
- Use their dashboards to manage all review-related workflows
- Threaded comments facilitate clear discussions
- Easily review audio and video files with time codes
- Can easily track file status during the review process
- Can add due dates to avoid missing deadlines
- Easily integrates with third-party apps
- Can add attachments in comments to enhance collaboration
- Cannot undo an approved annotation action
- No support for web annotation
- Cannot assign tasks to team members
Filestage offers three pricing tiers:
- Starter ($99/month): includes 15 active projects + basic project structure + basic support
- Pro ($249/month): includes 35 active projects + advanced project structure + priority support + 10 team members + project template
- Enterprise (custom pricing): supports more projects + custom workflows + more team members
Prodigy is a data annotation tool that creates evaluation and training data for machine learning models. And while this data tool could act as a prodigy for annotation, it’s not what’d you call affordable for most teams.
Prodigy key features
- Offers text annotation for any script or language
- Allows text classification with multiple categories
- Annotate NLP (Natural Language Processing) relations to label your data
- Image annotation tool for tasks like object detection, image classification, and segmentation
- Suitable for novice users
- Along with text and image annotation, can annotate audio clips as well
- Evaluate any model with randomized A/B testing
- Offers live demo and documentation for ease of use
- Supports collaboration annotation only for small teams
- You’ll need a separate tool for managing projects
- Doesn’t offer advanced semantic segmentation feature
Prodigy comes with two pricing plans:
- Personal ($390/lifetime license): offers a lifetime license + unlimited projects + unlimited annotator
- Company ($490/seat): includes “personal” features + flexible and transferable floating licenses
Annotate is a collaboration platform that helps make the document annotation process a breeze, from the first draft to the final sign-off. However, if you’re looking to annotate on the move, this might not be the tool for you.
Annotate key features
- Perform text or image annotation with the help of figures like text box, polygon or freehand notes
- Easily create notes within a document and assign them to team members
- Communicate over document and workspace chat while reviewing documents
- Draft your own documents and export as Word or PDF documents
- Supports custom integrations with third-party apps
- Ability to create workflows within documents
- Restricted access for external collaborators
- Doesn’t offer Android and iOS mobile apps
- No support for task and project management
- No calendar feature to manage your work schedule
Annotate offers three pricing plans:
- Free: supports up to 3 users + text annotation + document workspaces + full text search + in document collaboration
- Standard (contact the sales team): minimum 3 users + includes “Free” features + freehand annotation + notifications + document metadata and tagging
- Enterprise (contact the sales team): includes “Standard” features + unlimited storage + unlimited users + document comparisons
5. PDF Annotator
PDF Annotator is a PDF annotation tool that lets you add notes and annotations to your PDF documents. This annotation software enables you to add comments, signatures, and designs, making PDF annotation super easy.
PDF Annotator key features
- Can type your comments right into the document
- Freehand annotations with the Pen Tool
- Add stamps, signatures and page numbers to the document
- You can easily add markup and insert images
- Import and export pdf annotation across different document versions
PDF Annotator pros
- Offers an embedded image editor
- Convert your document to any format like doc, xls or ppt
- Can extract, move or delete selected pages from a document
PDF Annotator cons
- Adobe DRM protected documents cannot be opened
- Only available for Windows operating systems
- Cannot annotate digital signature protected documents
PDF Annotator pricing
PDF Annotator offers 3 buying options (prices vary for 4 users and above):
- Annotator License: $69.95/user
- Student License: $39.95/user
- Faculty License: $69.95/user
6. Drawboard Projects
Drawboard Projects is a PDF markup software tool that offers a wide range of markup features like text tool and polygon tool. You can even annotate your documents with digital ink. However, if you’re looking to organize your annotations easily, you might want to look elsewhere.
Drawboard Projects key features
- Markup any PDF file or drawing
- Pin an issue to a specific area on drawings to provide context
- Offers a time-restricted review link for guest access
- Add tags to a file to enhance the searchability
Drawboard Projects pros
- Collaborative markup and text annotation
- Can easily assign and track issue progress
- Integration with apps like Google drive and Procore
- Offers offline documentation support
Drawboard Projects cons
- Cannot organize projects into folders
- Only offers Windows 10 and iOS apps
- Integration with limited applications
Drawboard Projects pricing
- Basic ($24/user per month): supports up to 1000 drawings or documents + unlimited projects + third party app integrations
- Standard ($44/user per month): offers unlimited drawings or documents + unlimited projects + email support + third party app integrations
- Enterprise (contact Drawboard team): includes “Standard” features + federated access logins (SSO) + priority support
Doccano is an open-source text annotation tool. With its simple user interface, you can easily upload your desired dataset and start annotating.
Doccano key features
- Ability to perform sentiment analysis on text data
- Offers text classification that can be exported as plain text, CSV, JSON formats
- Supports data annotation feature of sequence labeling
- Sequence to sequence learning for training data models
- Simple, user-friendly interface
- Auto label with trained machine learning models
- Can annotate text of any language
- Open source annotation software
- Can lag and become unresponsive at times
- Can shuffle the annotated pieces only when self-hosted
- Requires coding-heavy setup
As Doccano is open source, it’s a free annotation tool.
Ink2Go is a simple screen recording and screen annotation software. Its user-friendliness makes it an excellent candidate for any live presentation or seminars.
Ink2Go key features
- Write, draw or highlight any content on desktop or apps like Sticky Note
- Screenshot, screen capture or record your desktop with the added annotations
- Offers a built-in digital whiteboard or blackboard for better user experience
- Annotate across multiple pages simultaneously
- Supports webcam for presentation and seminars
- Can annotate on extended or shared screen
- Floating drawing tool bar with the ability to align both horizontally and vertically
- Multiple pens, highlighters, and shapes like a rectangle for high-quality presentations
- Limited toolbar items
- Irregular software version releases
- No live customer support
Ink2Go offers both Windows and Mac apps with a 15-day free trial. However, a single license costs $19.99.
A well placed, detailed annotation is one of the easiest ways to add value to your content. It’s what can transform a boring piece of data into something as exciting as this:
Well, maybe not that exciting.
But you get the point.
Luckily, choosing an annotation software that fits your needs doesn’t have to be as difficult as perfecting English grammar!
Just go through the 8 options for annotation tools we covered here for a head start.
And while each of these tools is great, ClickUp smashes it out of the park with its powerful features that help you proof your documents easily.
From image and PDF proofing to a feature-rich Forever Free plan, this versatile annotation software hits the home run.
Sign up for ClickUp today to present your perfectly annotated ideas to the world!
Erica is ClickUp’s Senior Content Manager and professional beach bum. She spends her days creating emails, blogs, landing pages, and more to help people increase their productivity so they can save one day every week to do more of what they love.