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7 best annotation tools for creative teams

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by Katie Oberthaler

5 October 2021

Looking for the best annotation tools? Need something you can use for various formats like text, video, images, and designs?

With all the back and forth in the review and approval process, it’s easy for change requests and feedback to get misinterpreted or siloed on different files and versions. Without a 

But with annotation software, you can capture and record all your requirements, comments, and feedback on the original content asset so that everyone has a clear picture of what’s expected and how feedback relates directly to the content it is describing. 

In this article, we’ll cover what annotation tools are and highlight the best ones for designers and creative agencies. We'll look at their key features and pricing options to help you pick the best one.

What are annotation tools?

Annotation tools help you add information to text, images, videos, PDFs, and other types of content files. You can use them in various formats, such as a whiteboard or PowerPoint presentation to describe the selected content.

For instance, Ziflow has various commenting and markup tools, including lines, arrows, squares, ovals, and text selection, that allow content reviewers to provide detailed and actionable feedback. Plus, you can combine these markup tools to offer more granular direction on a single annotation.

Annotation use cases

Here are three of the many ways you can use annotation tools.

Design and image feedback

Not everyone will use the exact words to describe what they see in an image or design when giving feedback. Annotation tools allow you to pinpoint an area in an image or design when you leave feedback so that designers understand the change request.

Ziflow’s markup and annotation tools allow creative teams to collect and share effective, actionable feedback and keep creative projects on track.

Text inspection and markup

Text inspection and markup tools let you review and annotate the fine-print disclaimers on your content assets so that you comply with industry regulations. 

For example, the healthcare industry has to ensure all packaging and labeling information is correct:

Ziflow also automatically incorporates comments and attachments onto the asset so that all reviewers can see what’s required.

Video review

You can use annotation tools for video reviews, too. Video is one of the most popular yet complex types of creative content to approve team-wide. With so many moving parts and elements and many stakeholders from design to video productive to client review, it can be difficult to provide accurate feedback directly on a video.

However,  creative collaboration tools like Ziflow allow reviewers to leave feedback on the precise time code or range of frames that require attention, including subtitles. Side-by-side comparison, as well as integrations with video editing software, simplifies the creation and sharing of annotations throughout the video production process.

Draft - Video Production Workflow - Ziflow

Benefits of annotation tools

Annotation tools are not just “nice-to-have” – they also bring additional benefits to your organization.

Clearer feedback

Annotations provide clear, specific feedback, which reduces misunderstandings and the need for multiple revisions. Plus, feedback is centralized in one place instead of getting lost in chaotic email chains.

Real-time collaboration

Whether you’re working remotely or in the office, annotation tools also allow team members and stakeholders to collaborate in real-time. You can review and annotate the content, leave a comment for your colleague, and get an instant reply.

Audit readiness

Another benefit of annotation software is that you can see a detailed history of the edits and changes, including the person who requested them and the team members who actioned them and marked discussions “resolved”. This level of tracking ensures your content assets are audit-ready for internal or external compliance reviews.

7 best annotation tools for designers and creative teams

Now that you know some of the use cases and benefits let’s look at seven of the best annotation tools. 

We’ve included a selection of free and premium annotation tools for designers and creative agencies that you can scale to enterprise-level depending on your requirements.

Ziflow

Best for: Creative content collaboration, review and approval. 

Ziflow’s annotation, markup, and commenting tools allow creative teams and designers to collect and share effective, actionable feedback, keeping creative projects on track and brand-compliant.

Annotation features:

  • Provide detailed and actionable feedback with various color-coded markup tools (lines, arrows, squares, and ovals). 
  • Combine markup tools to give granular direction.
  • Validate sizes and spacings via the integrated measurement tool.
  • Provide annotations in granular detail by scaling your creative content up to 400%.
  • Accelerate decision-making with threaded comments, annotations, and markups that everyone can see in real-time. 
  • Preserve all annotations, comments, replies, attachments, and even thumbs-up notations for historical, compliance, or auditing purposes.
  • View all comments and annotations within the proof instead of wading through email chains.

Pricing:

Ziflow has a range of subscription plans for different-sized businesses:

  • Basic: $9/user/month 
  • Starter: $18/user/month 
  • Business: $45/user/month
  • Enterprise: Pricing by request for organizations that need enterprise-grade security and workflow automations.
  • Free Trial: 14-day free trial.

PDF Annotator

Best for: Any individual, organization, or university who wants to annotate PDFs.

PDF Annotator lets you add notes and annotations, including comments, corrections, signatures, and highlighting to any PDF document such as photos, designs, and drawings.

Annotation features:

  • Add notes and annotations to any PDF document, including handwritten notes on tablets.
  • Save annotations in the original file and share them with coworkers, clients, partners, and creators.
  • Revert to the original document at any time by removing or hiding all markup with a single click.
  • Combine documents, copy, re-order, remove, or insert pages.
  • Deliver interactive presentations in meetings or lectures via presentation mode. 

Pricing:

PDF Annotator offers 3 pricing options: 

  • Annotator: $69.95/user
  • Student: $39.95/user
  • Faculty: $69.95/user

 

ProofHub

Best for: Any team working on creative projects.

Proofhub is an online proofing software for teams who insist on reviewing, proofing, collaborating, and approving files easier, faster, and smarter.

Annotation features:

  • Provide clear and actionable feedback for specific areas of the content.
  • Collaborate on designs and documents in real-time. 
  • Review, add comments, and share feedback in one place.
  • Reply with threaded comments on a particular suggestion or feedback. 
  • Mark suggestions or feedback as resolved once you've made the changes.
  • Compare file versions to review changes.

Pricing:

Proofhub has two flat subscription plans:

  • Essential: $45/month (billed annually)
  • Ultimate: $89/month (billed annually)
  • Free Trial: 14-day free trial.

 

MarkUp

Best for: Individuals and teams who want real-time, collaborative feedback on live websites and digital content.

MarkUp is a free visual commenting platform that lets you collect feedback directly on your website, PDFs, and images. It's the perfect tool for simplifying the creative process and making life easier.

Annotation features:

  • Provide immediate, contextual, and visual feedback in real-time.
  • Manage and organize all web, PDF, and image projects in one location.
  • Invite collaborators to view, create, and resolve comments.
  • Use the Chrome extension to include screenshots with all your comments. 
  • Test your website design on any device type to avoid unpleasant surprises.

Pricing:

MarkUp is Free Forever. No credit card required.

 

GoProof

Best for: Enterprise teams.

GoProof’s diverse range of proofing and markup tools helps creative brands and agencies annotate, share, and collaborate on designs.

Annotation features:

  • Add freehand scribbles and annotations to the proof to express ideas, movement, and visuals naturally.
  • Mark a precise spot on the document for comments.
  • Select an area of content rather than a specific location with the box tool.
  • Measure a straight-line distance across the proof with the ruler.
  • Highlight or shade areas on the proof to suggest where you should make design changes.  
  • Tag and notify other collaborators to engage or respond to comments.
  • Set a start and endpoint on a video timeline to identify review sections.

Pricing:

GoProof pricing starts from $1500/year (according to Capterra).

 

Drawboard Projects

Best for: Purpose-made for Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) teams.

Drawboard Projects enables real-time collaboration and seamless markups for design and construction teams.

Annotation features:

  • Manage all project markups in one central workspace. 
  • Sync all markups and communication on every revision.
  • Assign responsibility and due dates to issues by pinning them to a drawing. 
  • Discuss changes right on the drawing for full context.
  • Display two revisions over each other to compare the annotations and see what’s changed and what’s outstanding.

Pricing:

Drawboard Projects has three subscription plans:

  • Basic: $19/month
  • Standard: $35/month
  • Enterprise: Contact sales@drawboard.com
  • Free Trial: 30-day free trial.

Annotate

Best for: Media, marketing, and entertainment teams.

Annotate is a single, secure platform that provides smarter document collaboration to get everyone working together seamlessly, from the first draft to final sign-off. 

Annotation features:

  • Add document annotations to text, images, or designs, with arrows, text boxes, or freehand notes.
  • Make suggestions by highlighting, underlining, or adding strikethroughs to documents.
  • Create color-coded tags to group notes by topic, filter them, and assign them to specific team members to take action on.
  • Assign specific sections of a document to reviewers.
  • Check whether facts, actions, and tasks have been accepted, resolved, or rejected. 
  • Verify who was involved at every stage in the collaboration process.

Pricing:

  • Free: $0/user/month
  • Standard: Contact Annotate
  • Enterprise: Contact Annotate


Which Annotation Software is Right For You?

Ziflow has all the commenting, discussion, and annotation tools you need to collect and share effective, actionable feedback to keep your project timelines on track. 

You can annotate text, video, designs, and images to help you reduce errors and rework, accelerate decision making, and banish email threads forever.

Don’t let the review and approval process slow you down. Take Ziflow for a 14-day free trial today.Your blog post content here…

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