Information and Technology

Think Before you Ink -Digital Highlighting

Story posted April 20, 2010

Reading scholarly articles on a computer screen presents several challenges, especially when the subject is new to the reader. Below are tips to enhance your digital reading experience.

Making Notes within the Article?

It helps many readers' comprehension and memory if they interact with the article by highlighting sections, taking notes in the margin, and summarizing as they go along.

On the Mac, Preview's annotation tool enables one to draw boxes around important passages and type notes into textboxes of a PDF document. These notes will then be searchable via Spotlight. See how.

On a Windows machine, Microsoft's OneNote 2007 makes note-taking and highlighting easy with or without a Tablet PC. The notes become searchable. "Print" the PDF right into OneNote by selecting "Send to OneNote 2007" from the printer pull-down menu.

Want to try out a Tablet PC?
Reserve one from Equipment Services via email or x3612

ebrary, which offers nearly 30,000 electronic books through the Library, has its own web-based Reader with note and highlighting tools.

How Many More Pages to Go?

Do you feel lost as to where you are in the article? It is easy to lose your orientation when reading a long document. Try reading a document with thumbnails of all the pages displayed so that you can see where you are in relation to the full article.

  • Preview (shif+cmd+D)
  • Acrobat Reader (View/Navigation Panels/Pages)
  • Word 2007 (In the View tab, check "Document Map")

Eye Strain?

The Library loans eBook readers, such as the Amazon Kindle. These readers use electronic ink technology for their screen and are much easier on the human eyes than a back-lit computer screen. In addition to the eBook titles available from the library, you can transfer a PDF article to read on the eBook readers.


If you find concentrating on a longer article difficult with your computer, you can go into Full Screen Mode to have the single document as the focus on your computer screen.

  • Preview (cmd+shift+F)
  • OneNote 2007 (F11)
  • Acrobat Reader (ctrl+L)
  • Word 2007 (in the View tab, select Full Screen Reading; escape to exit)

If the temptation is too great to check email or Facebook and you need focused time to concentrate, challenge yourself by turning off your wireless for one hour.

"new technologies have provided the means by which we can produce low-cost, high quality, personalized paper documents. It is no surprise, then, that we are all taking advantage of this and are consuming more paper than ever."
— Sellen & Harper, The Myth of the Paperless Office