Collaborate on a Document with A.nnotate

Last Updated Mar 23, 2009 7:46 PM EDT

Dear Business Hacks,

I've got a problem. I need to collaborate on a document with a co-worker. Let's call him "Rick." How do I share comments and notes without having to spend any time with him?

Signed, Need-an-alibi

Well, Alibi, you can use an online collaboration tool like A.nnotate to share documents and exchange notes.

A.nnotate offers multiple tiers of service, including a free option that lets you post about 30 pages per month. When you upload your documents to the site, they're converted to PDF, which you can mark up with notes, highlights, and strike-throughs. All the text in your documents as well as all notes and comments are fully searchable. Even cooler, your mark-ups can be tagged with keywords like important, query, or typo (and you can add your own keywords as well), and you can filter these notes by date, keyword, and other criteria.

You can share documents with co-workers, but it's far from an all-or-nothing proposition. A.nnotoate gives you a lot of control over the privacy of individual comments, so everything you write isn't necessarily shared with the group.

If you love A.nnotate, you can subscribe for anywhere from $10 to $200/month. But it's far from perfect. In the end, you have a marked-up PDF, so get ready to do a lot of retyping in Word to incorporate changes. And don't forget that online collaboration is a crowded party -- be sure to check out alternatives like DimDim and ShowDocument. Or just collaborate on a document using Google Docs.