Ensuring the PDF Comments Get Printed

Attorneys and other legal professionals use Acrobat comments and annotations to stamp their signature on documents, add highlights, circle important passages, etc.

Example signature stamp

I recently received this email message from an attorney:

I use the Stamp tool to affix a graphic of my signature to pleadings before e-filing them or sharing them with other counsel. But recipients who fail to choose to print with “Document and Markups” produce a doc that lacks my signature. So, I’ve taken to flattening them by printing to my PDF driver, but that produces a doc of embarassingly poor quality.

Some Background

Acrobat offers the ability to print documents with or without comments. If you choose File—>Print, you will see the following option:

Print Window showing Document and Markups print setting

If you had a heavily commented document with lots of highlights, you may wish to print a clean copy by choosing the “Document” option.

Once you select an option here, the setting is sticky for the next time you print from Acrobat.

Unfortunately, signature stamps are also a type of annotation. If your client or colleague has recently chosen the “Document” option, the important agreement you worked on won’t have your signature.

Fortunately, there are some good workarounds:

  1. Flatten the document so that Stamps and Annotations become part of the document layer
  2. Embed your signature as an image, rather than a stamp
  3. Add a special “Print with Comments” button to your document.

In this article, I’ll discuss these three workarounds. Read on to learn about them.

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Flattening Document Stamps and Annotations

Flattening a PDF embeds the stamps and annotations into the main document layer. This action will slightly reduce the file size and ensure that all annotations will print, no matter what setting is chosen in the Print Window.

Since the document no longer contains comments per se, your recipient can no longer respond using Acrobat comment tools to your text edits, highlights and so on.

One way to flatten comments is to print the PDF to the Adobe PDF print driver and save it as a new document. I don’t recommend this approach because it can lead to a loss of functionality and quality. Bookmarks and hyperlinks are discarded and the image quality could deteriorate depending on your PDF settings.

A better solution is to use a free script I’ve written about in this article: Add a Flatten Document Menu Item to Acrobat.

Embedding your Signature as an Image

If you are most concerned that your signature print out, try embedding it as image instead of using the Stamp tool.

Scan in your signature at 300 dpi in either black and white or color. Then, save as a GIF file.

Then, follow the instructions in my blog article How to Import/Place an Image in a PDF.

Adding a Print with Stamps Button

A recipient-friendly alternative is to add a special button to the document that prints the document with the comments.

Special Print with Comments button

Copy and Paste the Button

You can easily copy the functioning button from sample file below provided onto the PDF of your choice.

Download this sample document to copy/paste the Print with Comments button

Print Comments Button (518K PDF)

This document includes several types of annotations and stamps which makes it ideal for testing.

Full instructions are on the PDF. You’ll need Acrobat Professional to add the Print with Stamps and Comments button.

How it Works

Buttons are a standard Acrobat form component. Many different types of actions may be assigned to buttons including custom JavaScript.

In the example above, I attached the following code to the button:

When the user clicks the button, the document is immediately printed with comments and stamps to their default printer.