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Whether you’re proofreading, taking notes for class, or marking or annotating an important document — circling something makes sure that your eyes and attention are focused on whatever is inside the circle.
Sometimes “circling” something doesn’t even mean that you’re even using a circle! You may just need to outline, trace, or place a mark around an important part of the page; and that could be any shape, not just a circle.
But have you ever tried circling something in PDF? If so, you may have realized that it’s not possible with your PDF reader.
So then, how do you circle something in a PDF?
We’ll show you how.
To circle something in a PDF, you’re going to need a tool that lets you write or type directly on the PDF. PDF readers like Adobe Acrobat Reader can’t make changes to PDFs, only view them.
When wanting to circle something in PDF, whether it’s a word, phrase, section, image, etc., there are two ways to achieve this.
The two ways to circle something in a PDF are:
Circles are added or inserted to PDFs using the Shape or Form tool, whereas drawing circles is done using a Pencil or Pen tool.
There are pros and cons to both methods. Depending on your needs, you may use both methods, or just one.
Adding/Inserting a Circle to a PDF:
Drawing a Circle on a PDF:
When circling things on PDFs, you have a lot of options when it comes to customizing your circle based on your needs.
Before going over methods to circle your PDFS, let’s explore the different options that you’ll come across, and what they mean.
PDF Writer allows you to read, view, write, draw, annotate and markup PDFs with ease. It also makes creating PDFs a snap.
PDF Writer allows you to read, view, write, draw, annotate and markup PDFs with ease.
After releasing the mouse (and with the circle still highlighted), you can change the Thickness and Color at this point.
Adobe Acrobat has built-in tools to allow you to do this. This is a household name, and many people have Adobe Acrobat Reader installed on their work or personal computers. Keep in mind that Adobe Acrobat Reader does not allow you to add or draw circles on your PDF, on to view PDFs and annotations that may already be there. You’ll need a subscription to Adobe Acrobat Reader Pro or another PDF Writer to circle something on PDF.
Most people have experience using Microsoft Word, and many people have access to Word through their workplace, school, or maybe an old version still installed on their computer.
If you already have access to Word, you can use it to circle something on a PDF. Newer versions of Word feature a Draw tab which is the easiest way, while older versions of Word can insert circles by using the Shape tool.
You can either :
Note: Using Word, Google Docs, or other word processing applications to circle stuff in PDFs involves converting the PDF into a Word document, adding your circles, then saving the document as a new PDF. Because of this, formatting and spacing issues can occur when first opening your PDF document in Word, and is a slower, more laborious process that results in the creation of a second PDF file. If you want to draw or insert a circle directly on the PDF, you’ll need something that can write on PDFs directly. Also if you want more accuracy, use the right tool for the job.
Tip: if you want to make multiple of the same circle, just select and highlight your finished circle, then copy and paste (ctrl + c > ctrl + v) on your keyboard to easily create another circle.
Unless specified otherwise, we’ll answer these FAQs using PDF Writer as an example. But the answers should still be applicable regardless of the tool you’re using (language may differ slightly).
You cannot circle things in the free version of Adobe Acrobat Reader. You’ll need a subscription to the Pro version to use that function.
If you’re looking for an affordable alternative to Adobe Acrobat, check out PDF Writer, which makes it easy to circle, draw, add shapes, and write directly on PDF documents.
The default PDF viewers that come with your computer (Edge, usually) won’t be able to circle things in your PDF. You’ll need a tool that lets you write on PDFs and create shapes.
Any of the methods above will work.
Absolutely. You can use any shape to “circle” something in your PDF. Be it ovals, arrows, rectangles, and even clouds.