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Student Tool: Foxit Reader for Note-Taking

Cal over at Study Hacks beat me to an article on how to take notes from PowerPoint slides. Some of my professors use PowerPoint to create their lecture slides, but distribute them to students as a PDF file. Fortunately, we can still take notes without printing out the PDF using the free Foxit Reader.

The trick is to enable Foxit’s full set of annotating tools. You can do this by right-clicking anywhere on the toolbar and checking “full toolbars” as seen below.

Enable full toolbars

I’ll now explain how I use the various tools to take good notes using Foxit Reader.

Note Tool:
Note tool
You can access the note tool from the toolbars using the icon above. It allows you to make a digital sticky-note. I use it to clarify the professor’s slides and to write important information mentioned by the professor that isn’t already written on the slide.

Making notes on a graph

The note is also collapsible, just in case it covers up content from the original. You can open/close notes by double-clicking on the “thought bubble” as seen below.

Collapse a note

BLABLA

Highlighting:
Highlightning and underlining tools
You can access the highlighting features using the icon above. I use it to emphasize key formulas, phrases, or definitions.

Highlighting

Exporting to word processor
Copy text and capture screenshot
Foxit has two tools for exporting content: “select text” and “capture screenshot” seen above. I find that compiling my own notes (separate from slides) helps to solidify the content and lets me cut out unnecessary material. These two tools let me export text and visuals to my word processor.

Using the free version of Foxit Reader leaves a watermark on the edge of the slide, but isn’t very distracting. You can remove these watermarks by purchasing the Pro Pack.

Watermark

The only drawback I’ve found is the notes that you make don’t print. In print setup, there’s the option for “document and annotations.” The thought bubble appears, but the actual text isn’t visible. Highlighting displays correctly. I’m not sure if this is a limitation of the free version. If I’m mistaken, please let me know in the comments. Since I export my notes as explained above, I don’t have a problem. A workaround would be to use the “print screen” key on your keyboard to save your notes to a picture file and print that instead.

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