By text annotation we refer to the process of annotating a text in various ways.
“Annotations are usually small text documents attached to a published article. Ideally an annotation is attached to a fragment of an article. Thereby additional information about this specific part of the content is added. An annotation is a kind of electronic post-it and may start a discussion about the annotated part.” (Krottmaier, 2003).
“Ovsiannikov, Arbib, & Mcneill (1999) suggested that online annotations involve four major functions: remembering, thinking, clarifying, and sharing.” (Yeh et al, 2006).
See also: List of web 2.0 applications
Text fragment annotation systems
- Word processors
- Most word processors allow annotation, however most of these don't allow on-line collaboration.
- Somme e-book standards (e.g. ePub) allow for annotations by the individual reader (e.g. they remain on the local machine and are not shared).
- Online web-based word processors
- Buzzword, Adobe's online word-processing solution (Flash based)
- Etherpad, real-time online writing
- Google docs
- Zoho writer
- OpenGoo, another alternative to Google docs
- co-ment write or upload your own texts, submit them for comments and process the comments.
- Internet capable word processors and editors
- Goby, a free collaborative editor supporting multiple documents in one session and a multi-user chat. It runs on Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Linux and other Unix-like platforms.
- Microsoft Office (web discussion)
- Open Journal Systems (OJS) is a journal management and publishing system (PHP/MYSQL or Postgres). You may download the code and run your own on-line journal. See their long list of journal, e.g The Journal of Distance Education / Revue de l'Éducation à Distance) which proves that this software is operational.
Shared web page separate annotations systems allow to annotate a web page without modifying the original. Many of these systems now also include or even require convenient web browser extensions.
- Web 2.0 services (mostly commercial)
Most of these services are commercial, i.e. the free version may be limited or it's a free service with advertisements. More systems can be found through ReadWriteWeb or via web 2.0 indexes such as Mashable or MakeUseOf.
- Webnotes - WebNotes (Wikipedia) - WebNotes... (Mashable)
- A.nnotate, to upload, annotate, share. online document review and collaboration of PDF, Word and HTML.
- Annotea (Kahan), comments, notes and explanations
- Diigo. This popular social bookmarking tool also allows to annotate web pages.
- Fleck, to post public or private text notes on a page. Similar to Diigo.
- ReframeIt, a social web annotation tool (integrated with twitter and facebook). Also includes a FF extension. Similar to Diigo.
- ShiftSpace (Firefox plugin)
- Stickis, web page annotation system that let's you connect to content "channels" of other people, Channels may include text, images, RSS feeds.
- Trailfire, IE and Firefox plugin that lets you post notes (called marks) right on top of a webpage and string them together with hyperlinks (making "trails").
- http://www.gibeo.net (dead ?)
- Ubervu (an easy way to track, start and respond to conversations, even if they take place across multiple sites and services...)
- Open source code to build your own web annotation system
- Marginalia download at code.google. This project seems to be still alive in June 2009.
- AnnotatEd (Farzan & Brusilovsky)
- Research systems
There are many many research systems (since the early days of the web):
- ComMentor (1994)
- CoNote (1994)
- Annotator (1998)
- Xlibris An early attempt to create an annotatable e-book (Schilit et al., 1998)
Some of the more recent systems may be still and/or really be operational and give away code (needs additions below).
Personal web page annotation systems
- Annotations in Amaya (Amaya is the W3C test and development web browser / editor). See also the related Annotea project.
Use cases in education
In education, we may distinguish two kinds of text annotations
- Notes a reader makes to himself/herself when studying texts or when noting references they plan to further investigate (Wolfe, 2002).
- Comments a reader makes for someone else.
Annotations can by typed, e.g. marked as questions or answers.
- “Bargeron, et al, (2001) claimed, tools for manipulating and rearranging annotations can scaffold different note-taking and information strategies that help students learn to move from reading to writing. Specifically, annotations can provide in-context personal notes and can enable asynchronous collaboration among groups of user”. (cited by Yeh et al, 2006).
Standards and interoperability
- Open Annotation Collaboration A more recent initiative “to facilitate the emergence of a Web and Resource-centric interoperable annotation environment that allows leveraging annotations across the boundaries of annotation clients, annotation servers, and content collections. To this end, interoperability specifications will be devised.” (, retrieved 17:04, 6 July 2009 (UTC)).
- web annotation (Wikipedia)
- WebAnnotation, an entry in the orginal wiki.
- Five Ways to Mark Up the Web by Nick Gonzalez on April 10, 2007. Techcrunch.
- 5 Great Alternatives To Google Docs You Should Consider by David Pierce, Makeuseof.com, March 2009.
- Brush, Alice Jane Bernheim, Annotating Digital Documents for Asynchronous Collaboration, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, University of Washington. (Tech Report version of a PhD Thesis) PDF
- Cerratto, Tessy (2002). Studies of Computer Supported Collaborative Writing. Implications for System Design, Interaction and Presentation Laboratory, Royal Institute of Technology (KTH). TechReport, PDF
- Ellis, Sean E. and Dennis P. Groth (2004). A Collaborative Annotation System for Data Visualization, ACM Conference on Advanced Visual Interfaces, Gallipoli, Italy, May, 2004.
- Farzan, R. & Brusilovsky, P. (2006). AnnotatEd: A Social Navigation and Annotation Service for Web-based Educational Resources. In T. Reeves & S. Yamashita (Eds.), Proceedings of World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, and Higher Education 2006 (pp. 2794-2802). Chesapeake, VA: AACE. Abstract/PDF
- Heck, R.M.; M. Luebke, and C. H. Obermark, (2005). "A Survey of Web Annotation Systems". HTML.
- Kahan, J., Koivunen, M.-R., Prud’Hommeaux, E., and Swick, R. R. (2001). Annotea: An open rdf infrastructure for shared web annotations. In Proceedings of the WWW10 International Conference.
- Khan, Imran; Ronald Schroeter and Jane Hunter (2006). Implementing a Secure Annotation Service, IPAW06, Chicago. PDF
- Kunimune, H., Yokoyama, K., Niimura, M. & Fuwa, Y. (2007). An Annotation Sharing System for Web-based e-Learning Materials. In C. Montgomerie & J. Seale (Eds.), Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2007 (pp. 3366-3371). Chesapeake, VA: AACE. Abstract/PDF
- Krottmaier, H. (2003). Enhanced Annotations. In C. Crawford et al. (Eds.), Proceedings of Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education International Conference 2003 (pp. 991-993). Chesapeake, VA: AACE. Abstract/PDF
- Krottmaier, H. and Helic, D. (2002). More than Passive Reading: Interactive Features in Digital Libraries. In Proceedings of E-Learn, Montreal, Canada.
- Marshall, C. C. (1997). Annotation: From paper books to digital library. In ACM DL, pages 131–140.
- Macklin, S. (2003). Representing, exchanging, and assessing ideas in an almost natural way: The Traces digital media annotation systems. In D. Lassner & C. McNaught (Eds.), Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2003 (pp. 863-865). Chesapeake, VA: AACE. Abstract/PDF (digital media annotation)
- Ovsiannikov, I.A., Arbib, M.A., and Mcneill, T. H. (1999). Annotation Technology. International Journal, Human-Computer Studies, 50, 329-362.
- Reeve, Lawrence and Hyoil Han (2005). Survey of semantic annotation platforms (2005), Proceedings of the 2005 ACM Symposium on Applied Computing, PDF
- Rosta, Scott Bateman; Scott Bateman, Rosta Farzan, Peter Brusilovsky, Gord Mccalla (unknown). OATS: The Open Annotation and Tagging System, [incomplete(?) cached PDF
- Schilit Bill, Gene Golovchinsky, and Morgan Price (1998). CHI 98 Conference Proceedings, ACM Press, 1998, pp. 249-256., April 18, 1998. PDF
- Yeh, S., Lo, J. & Huang, J. (2006). The Development of an Online Annotation System for EFL Writing with Error Feedback and Error Analysis. In E. Pearson & P. Bohman (Eds.), Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2006 (pp. 2480-2485). Chesapeake, VA: AACE. Abstract/PDF
- Wojahn, P.G., Neuwirth, C. M. and Bullock, B.: Effects of Interfaces for Annotation on Communication in a Collaborative Task. In Proc. of ACM CHI'98, Los Angeles, CA, pp. 456-463, 1998.
- Wolfe, J. (2002). Annotation technologies: A software and research review. Computers and Composition, 19, 471-497.
- Xin, C. & Glass, G. (2005). Enhancing Online Discussion through Web Annotation. In G. Richards (Ed.), Proceedings of World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, and Higher Education, pp. 3212-3217.