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Annotating Digitally

Annotating with Hypothesis

Hypothesis is a free online tool designed to allow for collaborative annotation across the web. This guide will walk you through using Hypothesis with the Chrome extension. To use the bookmarklet in another browser, please refer to the hypothesis user guide for step-by-step instructions.

It can be used to annotate web pages, PDFs and EPUB files. You can annotate documents and pages publicly, privately, or within a group.

To get started with Hypothesis you'll need to:

  1. Create an account. 
  2. Install the Chrome extension or the Hypothesis Bookmarklet if you are using a browser other than Chrome. 
  3. Start annotating!

What makes Hypothesis different than other tools is that you can annotate PDFs as well as web pages. It also allows for group and collaborative annotation. 

Opening Web Pages and PDFs

Navigate to the web page or pdf in your browser. 

Next, select the Hypothesis icon located in the right corner of your Chrome browser if it is not already active.

Hypothesis icon in chrome

 An inactive icon will appear as light gray, and if it is ready to use it will be black. If you have not used Hypothesis for a while you may need to log in to activate the program.

Inactive hypothesis icon

Once Hypothesis is active on a page you can start annotating. You can highlight text, add annotation, add a note for the whole page, share the page with others, and reply to other comments on the page. You may have to click the toggle arrow to see options, comments, and notes.

Hypothesis options


Adding Annotation and Highlighting Text

To highlight or add annotation for certain text, simply select the text and the highlight and annotation icons will appear.

Annotate and highlight text using hypothesis

To create a note for the entire page, select the note icon that appears on the Hypothesis menu on the right side of the screen. You can also toggle highlighted text on and off using the eye icon.

Adding a note in hypothesis


Formatting Annotation

Once you have selected text to annotate, an annotation box will appear in the menu on the right. The annotation section allows you to perform minor formatting of text such as bold, italics, quoted text, lists, links, and even mathematical notation that is LaTex supported.

Adding an Annotation in Hypothesis with Formatting

There is also an option to add web links and links to online images and videos. Images will appear and videos will play right in the annotation section of the page. 

Adding a Youtube video to Hypothesis


Adding Tags

You may also add tags to your annotation to better organize your idea and thoughts, and categorize content. To learn more about tags and how they can be used to enhance collaboration and search, please see the Using Tags Tutorial.

Adding Tags in Hypothesis

Public, Private, and Private Group Annotation

Annotations, notes and highlights can be made public, private or shared within a specific group. All annotation setting default to public unless you choose another option. Public annotations can be seen by anyone who visits the webpage or pdf and has Hypothesis enabled.

Switching from Public to "Only Me"

If you would like to make notes private where only you can see them, be sure to select the Only Me option in the annotation box.

Private and Public Options in Hypothesis

Once you have selected this option, all other annotations, highlights and notes will default to private on the page and be shown with a lock icon next to your name. To switch back select the Public option.

Private Lock Icon in Hypothesis


Private Groups

To share annotations with a group you have already created or have been invited to, select the down arrow next to Public in the Hypothesis menu. Here you will see any private groups you belong to as well as an option to create a new private group. Selecting a group will allow you to annotate and have only the members belonging to the group view and respond to your comments, highlights and notes. 

Select a Group in Hypothesis

To create a new group, select the + New Private Group option. From here you will be taken to a new screen where you will be asked to name the group. Click the Create group button to create the new private group.

Create New Private Group in Hypothesis

Once the group is created, you will be given a link to share to invite new members to the group.

Invite Members to Private Hypothesis Group

Annotating a Locally-Saved PDF 

To annotate a saved pdf in Hypothesis, open it in your browser. Once it is open in your browser activate Hypothesis to start annotating. The pdf must have selectable text in order for Hypothesis to work. If you have issues with this feature, consult the annotating locally saved pdfs tutorial.

Open a PDF with Chrome