AECbytes Tips and Tricks Issue
#2 (January 19, 2006)
Flattening PDF Annotations in Adobe Acrobat
Founder, LineType Software, Inc.
PDF files can contain two different types of
datagraphics and annotations. Graphics are
static imagestext, vector drawings, or raster
images. Annotations are interactive objects that
have a graphic associated with them. Stamps, redline
comments, sticky notes, digital signatures, and
form fields are all examples of annotations in
a PDF file.
Annotations differ from static graphics in several
- Often an annotation has some sort of action
associated with itdouble-clicking a redline
comment, for instance, will open up a note that
is linked to that redline. Interactive PDF documents,
similar in many ways to web sites, can be created
using these features.
- Annotations are easily changed. Using Adobe
Acrobat, redline comments may be deleted from
a PDF file, for instance, without modifying
the rest of the drawing. Stamps and form fields
may be repositioned anywhere on the page by
clicking and dragging them around.
- Some types of annotations may not be printed
unless the appropriate settings are chosen in
the Print dialog box in Acrobat or Reader. The
settings are shown below.
Although the interactive features of annotations
can be very useful in some situations, at other
times it may be desirable to disable this interactivity
and turn the annotation into a simple graphic
that cannot be changed or deleted so easily, and
that will always be printed, regardless of print
dialog settings. This is called "flattening"
Although flattening is supported by Acrobat,
for some reason it is not included in the default
to enable this feature. To install the flatten
function for Adobe Acrobat, follow these instructions:
- Exit from Acrobat if it is open.
this link: http://www.linetype.com/advice/cad/flatten.js
- At the File Download dialog
box, click Save and save the
directory. If you have Acrobat 7.0, this would
- Restart Acrobat
- There will now be two new menu items under
the Document menu in Acrobat.
Flatten page will flatten and
embed all annotations (form fields, stamps,
markups, notes, digital signatures) on the current
page. Flatten document will
do the same for the entire document. The new
menu items are shown below.
After annotations have been flattened, they will
lose all their interactivity and other special
features and will become static graphics. It may
be a good idea to save an un-flattened copy of
the document if there is a chance that changes
will need to be made to these annotations later.
About the Author
John TeSelle is a practicing architect in Nashville,
Tennessee. He is the founder of LineType
Software, Inc., which develops plug-ins for
Adobe Acrobat and Reader for the AEC industry.
He is an authority on the use of PDF and PDF-based
digital signatures for architects and engineers,
and has shared this expertise with professionals
across the country in seminars and webcasts sponsored
by Adobe Systems, Inc. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tricks > Flattening PDF Annotations in
Adobe Acrobat > Printer-friendly