Debbie Ridpath Ohi reads, writes and illustrates for young people. Every few weeks, she shares new art, writing and reading resources; subscribe below. Browse the archives here.

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January 7, 2013: After some hard thought, I've decided to officially shut down this blog. I know I haven't updated it in a while, but I thought I should let you all know so you can remove it from your RSS feeds, etc.

Reason: I've decided that I need to find ways to make more time to read and create books.

I had great fun working on illustrating I'M BORED (written by Michael Ian Black, published by Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers in Sept/2012) and am now working on writing and/or illustrating new book projects. In addition to my picture book projects, I also want to get back to my novel writing.

My challenge: I want to do too many things and am currently involved in too many projects. My solution: To prioritize and cull.

You can find out what I'm working on at or follow me on Twitter at @inkyelbows.

Thanks so much for your support and interest in my projects.

-- Debbie

Entries in pdf (1)


iPad apps for writers: iAnnotate - PDF reader & PDF annotation tool

(Note: Also see my list of notetaking apps and other useful iPad apps for writers.)


iAnnotate PDF | iAnnotate FAQ | iAnnotate User Guide | User forums

Version 1.1. Updated May 19, 2010.

Developer: Aji, LLC. $9.99

Up to now, I've mainly reviewed apps that writers can use to take notes as well as write. Editing, however is a big part of the writing process, so I figure I should mention iAnnotate, which lets users read PDFs as well as mark them up. I've already used this to add handwritten edit notes on some manuscript pages. I just convert my MS-Word document to a PDF first -- to try this, go to the Print dialog box (on a Mac, anyway) and select PDF -> Save As PDF in the lower left corner:

There are several ways to get files from your computer into iAnnotate, but for larger documents and libraries it's recommended that you download and install the free Aji PDF Service app. That way you just need to move files into a folder on your desktop, and they'll automatically appear in your iPad folder as well. However, you can also transfer your documents using a web download, iTunes File Sharing, or open docs from Mail and other apps.

I recently used iAnnotate to import a PDF schedule of the SCBWI Summer Conference and marked it up with notes about what workshops and talks I'd like to attend. 

There is a bit of a learning curve when it comes to figuring out how everything works, and you really DO have to read the manual to fully master the basics, but so far I've found it well worth it.

My experiment with importing a PDF from Dropbox:

I wanted to see how easy it was to import a document from a Web storage service like Dropbox, so went through the process:

- Clicked on the "download" icon in the top left corner, which looks like a down arrow.

- Of the two choices of "Aji PDF Service" or "Web Download", I chose the latter. At this point, an integrated browser opens up inside the iAnnotate app.

- Went to the Dropbox site and logged in.

- Found the PDF document I wanted to import. At this point it got a bit confusing. When I clicked on the file name, a tip appeared VERY briefly at the top of the screen but disappeared before I could read it. By experimenting, I discovered that clicking on the date to the right of the file prompted a small down-arrow symbol to appear. Clicking on the down-arrow gave me a menu that included "Download File." Clicked on "Download File." (Update: The developer said to use "Open in...iAnnotate" from the Dropbox app...I'll have to look for this.)

- Was given a message that the file would be put in my Web Downloads folder.

What I liked about iAnnotate:

- Wide range of annotation options, including text notes, highlighting with different colours, underlining, free form drawing, and bookmarks.

- Lots of documentation, including a user guide and in-app help & tips.

- E-mail and forum support.

- Toolbars are customizable.

What I didn't like:

- When I went to read a copy of my annotated documented that I had e-mailed myself, I found that all the annotations were missing. :-(  Apparently I'm not the only one experiencing this problem, so hopefully the developers can fix this soon. (Update: The developer pointed me to this link for an explanation about why annotations may not show up when e-mailed out.)

- Failing a successful e-mail export, I tried exporting via iTunes. While inside my document, I chose "Prepare for the iTunes upload." A message popped up saying that all my documents were up-to-date and could be accessed through iTunes. When I went to my ITunes file sharing folder for iAnnotate, however, my file wasn't listed. I also couldn't open the folders that were listed. (Update: The developer said that for iTunes, I need to highlight the folder, then use "Save As" -- apparently it's an iTunes limitation.)

I'm going to do more tests before officially reporting this as a bug, but it's definitely an indication of the learning curve that is involved in properly using this app.

On my wishlist:

- Undo gesture.


iTunes link for iAnnotate