Reading PDFs with Adobe Reader XI

Reading PDFs with Adobe Reader XI
Adobe Reader XI
To read a PDF on your computer you usually use Adobe Reader. Adobe Reader is a
free program and you can get versions for Windows, Mac or Linux computers. If you
don’t have Adobe Reader on your computer already, download and install it from
Adobe Reader XI is the latest version of Adobe Reader and is worth installing because
it lets you use the Comment tools on any PDF, not just those that have had ‘extended
user sights added’. This means that if you have:
• downloaded a PDF textbook (e.g. a TeeJay maths book) from the Books for All
Database); or
• converted a Word file to PDF using the built in converter in Word 2010; or
• scanned a paper worksheet or resource to PDF;
you will be able to type answers and use the Adobe Reader drawing tools in the
(With older versions of Reader, the author of the PDF had to ‘reader enable’ the file
or ‘extend user rights’, which required Acrobat Professional, in order for the learner to
have access to the comment tools.)
Set up Adobe Reader Preferences
If you see the How To window on the right side of the screen, uncheck the
Show How To Window at Startup to turn this off.
Right-click on the grey toolbar and in Select & Zoom, choose the Select Tool
and then the Hand Tool.
If you always want to open the
book at the last page you read,
click on Edit > Preferences >
Documents and then tick
Restore last view settings
when reopening documents.
Click on Edit > Preferences and click on Reading:
a. Set the Reading Order to Infer reading order from document
b. In Screen Reader Options, for Pages vs Documents, choose to Only read
the current visible pages.
Adobe Reader XI
c. In Read Out Loud Options, deselect Use default voice and choose a
voice from the menu (e.g. Heather or Stuart, assuming you have them
installed). Deselect Use default speech attributes and choose the
pitch and speed you prefer for the voice.
Adjust Screen colours
You may find the paper easier to read if you change the paper background or text
Click Edit > Preferences > Accessibility, then Replace Document Colors.
Tick Custom Color and choose the desired text and background colour. Tick
Only change the colour of black text and line art and Change the color
of line art otherwise some information may not be visible.
If the computer has been set up with a specified colour scheme already, you
could tick Use Windows Color Scheme although this can sometimes be
unreliable. You may need to set the document colours within Custom Colour
settings or you could try out the High Contrast options.
To change the highlight colour for the answer boxes, click Edit > Preferences
> Forms and choose a colour for the Fields highlight color.
Smooth text on screen display
Click Edit > Preferences > Page Display and set Smooth Text to be For
Monitor (if you have a CRT monitors) or For laptop/LCD screens (if you
have a laptop or a flat panel screen). This will improve the clarity of the text
displayed on screen.
Go to Edit > Preferences > Spelling and set Check spelling while typing
on. You may choose an alternate underline colour if you wish, particularly if you
have altered the Adobe Reader page and text colours.
Choose the correct spelling dictionary, go to Edit > Preferences > Spelling,
select English (UK) and then click Check. Uncheck the others if not needed.
If you choose a foreign language dictionary as well as English UK, ensure that
English (UK) is at the top of the list by clicking on the Up button.
Set up auto-save
Click Edit > Preferences and then Documents. Under Save Settings, select
Automatically save document changes to temporary file every and then
type in the time you want to have between saves. The default is to save every
5 minutes.
Adobe Reader XI
Turning pages and moving around the book
To turn pages, use the arrows on the toolbar, or right and left arrow keys on
the keyboard.
To scroll up or down the page:
use the scroll bar;
press the Space bar to move down a screen at a time;
press the Page up/down keys.
Use the zoom buttons if you need to zoom in on the paper.
To fill the screen click the View Page Width button or press CTRL+2.
To see the whole page click the Fit Page button or press CTRL+0.
Choose View > Page Display > Single Page (not ‘continuous’) to see a page
at a time. Or try Two Page View to see two pages at a time.
To get back to 100% click on the arrow to the right of the magnification level
and choose Actual Size
of page
and press
Next page
Zoom out
Zoom in
width of
View whole
Edit >
Preferences >
to change page
and text
colours page
Click to see
structure (if
the book has
one). Click
to go to the
Adobe Reader XI
Reading the book with Read Out Loud
Adobe Reader has free built-in text-to-speech called Read Out Loud. It is quite basic,
not that easy to control and lacks features that you find in other text-to-speech
programs, but it is readily available and free.
Set up and choose your voice
Click on Edit > Preferences > Reading.
Set the Reading Order to Infer reading
order from document (recommended).
In Screen Reader Options, for Pages vs
Documents, choose to Only read the
current visible pages.
Read Out Loud can read using most voices
installed on your computer. Choose your
voice by unticking Use default voice, and
choose a voice from the list.
If you want your voice to speak at it’s standard speed and pitch, tick Use
default speech attributes. If you want to adjust the voice, untick this, and then
set the pitch and speed. The standard speed is usually 190 words per minute: if
you are new to text-to-speech you might reduce the speed slightly to perhaps
180 wpm.
Tick Read form fields.
Click OK.
Read some text
Now click View > Read Out Loud and then Activate Read Out Loud or press
Click Tools > Select and Zoom > Select Tool
Now click on some text and it will read out that chunk of text – usually the
To read the next paragraph or line, click with the mouse or press the Down
arrow key.
To pause and restart the speech, press SHIFT+CTRL+C; to stop it press
You can also have the page or the whole document read out (View > Read Out
Loud > Read This Page only or Read to End of Document). However, you may
find that it reads out the text on the page in a strange order, which is why the
click and read method above is better for most candidates.
The limitations of Read Out Loud are:
o sometimes it doesn’t read the full line or sentence;
o you can’t select the exact text that you want to read;
o sometimes it doesn’t read text at all and just says ‘blank’;
o it doesn’t highlight the words as it reads.
o you can’t change the pronunciation of particular words.
Adobe Reader XI
Reading the book with Ivona MiniReader
Ivona MiniReader is a simple text reader which adds a floating toolbar on the screen
and can read out text from almost any program – Adobe Reader, Microsoft Word,
internet browsers etc.. MiniReader can use Heather and Stuart and most other voices
on your computer.
Download and install
Go to and click on the Free Download
button. Follow the instructions to install MiniReader.
When you install MiniReader, it offers you the option to
install some of the Ivona voices for 30 day trial – we
suggest that you decline this offer and untick the Start
the Ivona voices installation, unless unless you are
interested in evaluating the voices.
Reading text with MiniReader
Click Start > All programs > IVONA > IVONA MiniReader
Open your PDF, select text then click on the Play button (or press
CTR+SHIFT+SPACE), and MiniReader will read it out. Click Pause or press the
keyboard shortcut again to
pause the speech.
Double click on a word to select
it, triple click to select a line and
quadruple click to select the
whole page.
You can switch between the Mini
and Full toolbar by clicking on
the Show/Hide button. The Full toolbar lets you change voice and adjust speed
and volume:
Some limitations of MiniReader compared to other paid-for text readers are that
you have to manually select the text to be read, it doesn’t highlight the text as it
reads, and there is no pronunciation dictionary.
The paid-for Ivona Reader comes with extra voices, can convert text to MP3 files,
has a reading window that does highlight the text as it reads, and adds reading
buttons to internet browsers, Word and email.
Adobe Reader XI
Books with Answer Boxes
Some PDFs (e.g. SQA digital papers or many Heinemann maths from the Books for All
Database) have answer boxes and other facilities for interacting as well as reading the
Highlight the answer boxes
If you want the answer boxes to be highlighted click on the Highlight
Fields button at the top right of the paper (the answer boxes are called
Type into the answer boxes
Go to the first page, click in the first answer box and type your answer.
Press the TAB key to move to the next answer box, or click on the next
box with the mouse, and type in the details.
Press SHIFT-TAB to move back a field.
Adobe Reader XI
Comment Tools
The Comment tools let you draw and add text to the resource. Click Comment on the
right side of the toolbar and then click Annotations.
You can use Notes to collect ideas and text as you read through the resource.
, or right-click where you
To add a note, either click on the Note Tool
want the Note, and choose Add Note. (This will only work outside the answer
Highlights can be used to mark key locations or sections
of the text.
Click on the Highlight button
text to be highlighted.
To delete the highlight, right-click on the highlight and choose Delete.
To change the highlight colour, right-click on the highlight and choose Properties.
If you want to keep the colour for all your highlights, tick Make Properties
and then select the
Add notes,
underline and
text, add text
and audio
Text boxes,
labels, lines,
shapes etc
Use Text
to type in
Adobe Reader XI
Text Comments
Use the Text Comment tool
to add comments, numbers or text to diagrams.
This is particularly helpful for PDFs that do not have answer boxes.
To change the text comment font and colour, type in your first comment, then
select some of the text you have just typed. You should see the Properties appear,
and then you can
choose the font,
size, colour etc.
Record Audio
The Record Audio tool lets you record an audio comment. This can be useful for a
teacher to record instructions, and give feedback, or for a pupil with significant writing
difficulties to give a response.
then click on
Click on the Record Audio button
the page to place your recording. Click the Red
record button to start recording and the black Stop
button to stop.
Once you are happy, click OK, choose an icon, and
the recording will be inserted into the document.
You can add as many recordings as you want.
Drawing tools
To draw a line on the resource, click on the Line tool, then click on the places
where you want the line to start and end.
To stop drawing, press
the ESC key on the
Draw lines by
clicking on the Line
Tool, then click to
draw each end of
the line
The default line colour is red, which is good for
viewing on screen but can be faint when printed
out, so right-click on the line you have drawn,
choose Properties and then choose a different,
darker line colour that will be clearer when printed
out on a black and white printer.
Now tick Make Current Properties Defaults so
that the lines you draw from now on will all be a
darker colour. Click OK.
Adobe Reader XI
To stop drawing lines press the ESC key or click on the Select Tool in the toolbar.
For drawing use the Cloud, Arrow, Line, Rectangle (hold Shift key to draw a
square), Ellipse (hold Shift key to draw a circle) and Pencil tools. Click on the tool
you need, and then click on the page to draw or insert the item.
You can change the appearance of an item – for example, the colour of the text,
the thickness of a line, or the fill colour of a shape, by right-clicking on the item,
and choosing Properties.
You can use the Comment tools to answer all sorts of questions. In the maths book
below we use the highlight tool to colour numbers, and the circle tool to mark the
correct answer.
Click on Comment to
see the annotation and
drawing tools
Colour the numbers by
clicking on the Highlight
Tool, and then double
click on the number you
want to mark
Circle the numbers by
clicking on the Circle
Tool, then draw a Circle
round the number
Analysis toolbar
Click on Extended in the top right of the toolbar. If you
can’t see Extended, click View > Extended > Extended
Features. Go to Edit > Preferences > Units to set the
units to cm or mm).
Click on Measuring Tool to see the measuring options.
Select the Distance tool to measure the distance
between two points. Click the first point, move the pointer
to the second point, and click again.
Select the Perimeter tool to measure a set of
distances between multiple points. Click each
point you want to measure. Then, double-click
the last point.
Select the Area tool to measure the area within the line segments that you
draw. Click each point you want to measure. After you have clicked at least two
points, click the first point to complete the area measurement.
Adobe Reader XI
To stop measuring, press
To delete a measurement,
right-click and press Delete.
Viewing your comments and answers
Click Comments List in the Comment tools to see all the answers, comments and
mark-ups you have added to the PDF. This can be useful for reviewing your notes.
You can then review the notes and copy the text in them into another application,
such as Word, for creating your answers.
Spell checker
If the spellchecker is enabled, Adobe Reader will
underline possible spelling mistakes when you type them
into the answer boxes.
You can spellcheck a word by right-clicking on it and
choosing from a list of suitable words.
Or at any time you can press F7, click on Start and use
the Spellchecker dialogue box.
To turn the spellchecker on or off, go to Edit >
Preferences > Spelling. If you do use the spellchecker,
make sure the correct dictionary (English United
Kingdom) is selected.
Saving and printing
Save as you work through.
Go to File>Print (Ctrl-P) and under Comments and
Forms choose Document and Markups, and then click
Adobe Reader XI
Do this:
See the table of
View > Navigation Panels > Bookmarks or press F4.
(Note that some PDFs don’t have bookmarks.)
Open the book at the
last page you read
Edit > Preferences > Documents and click Restore last
view settings when reopening documents
Go to the next page
Click the Down or Right arrow in the toolbar, or press
PageDown key, or press the Down Arrow key
Go to the previous
Click the Up or Left arrow in the toolbar, or press PageUp
key, or press the Down Arrow key
Make the text larger
Click on the zoom buttons (see screen shot) to zoom in and
See a whole page
Click View > Zoom > Fit Page or press CTRL+0 to see
the whole page.
Fit the text to the
First set the Page Display to be a single page View > Page
Display > Single Page.
Now click Page > Zoom > Reflow and the text will be
‘reflowed’ to fit across the screen. This means you don’t
have to scroll left and right if you have zoomed in to make
the text very large.
Use Reading Mode
(this hides the toolbars
at the top of the
View > Reading Mode press CTRL+H. Press CTRL+H
again to come out of Reading Mode.
To use Full Screen
Mode (this hides
everything apart from
the page)
View > Full Screen Mode or press CTRL+L. Press
CTRL+L again to come out of Reading Mode. In Full Screen
Mode you can press a Left Mouse Click to go forward a page
and Right Mouse Click to go back (see Edit > Preferences
> Full Screen Mode)
To see two pages at
View > Page Display > Two Up
To change the colours
Edit > Preferences > Accessibility, tick Replace
Document Colours and then choose the colour for the
Page Background and the Document Text. Tick Only
change the colour of black text and line art and
Change the color of line art otherwise some information
may not be visible.
To have the book read
out by the computer
with Read OutLoud
Most PDFs can be read out by the computer. Some can’t: if
the publisher or author has prevented access to the text (to
stop it being copied) then the text reader may not be able
Adobe Reader XI
to get at it to read it.
Before you use Read OutLoud, choose a computer voice by
going to:
Edit > Preferences > Reading,
Untick Use default voice then choose a voice from the list.
Test it to make sure it works and adjust the speed to suit
you. Don’t choose an ‘Elan’ voice because they don’t work
with Adobe Reader.
Click OK to close the preferences, then click
View > Read OutLoud > Activate Read OutLoud
There are a few ways to have the text read out:
View > Read Out Loud > Read This Page Only will read
the page you’re looking at.
View > Read Out Loud > Read To End of Document
will read to the end of the book.
Or, choose the Select Tool (Tools > Select and Zoom >
Select Tool), click on the text, and it will read out the
sentence or paragraph you have clicked.
Switch access to Adobe Reader books
To use switches to turn the pages in Adobe Reader, you need:
Switches and a switch interface to connect them to the computer;
Set the switches to control the Left and Right arrow keys to turn pages back and
For example, this Don Johnston Switch Interface lets you turn
pages with switches.
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