Ever been at home and have to check an essay for a student who is at school?  Or you are at school and the Red Pen Clip Artstudent is at home? What do you do?

Well, in the past, I’ve had students send me word files, printed them, checked them, then scanned them, and finally sent them back.  It’s really troublesome!  (Yes, you can open the word file and type comments, but that is even worse for me because I write a lot of comments.)

I usually do not recommend particular software or online service, other than Google and the goodness that is Linux, but this time, I am going to talk about Crocodoc (now called Crocodoc personal)

(Just to make this clear, I have no relation to the company, and I get no money for this.)

Crocodoc is a great piece of online software that does a very simple thing–it lets you mark papers, such as essays, online through using a PDF file.

How does it work?  Have your student write the document on a word processor and then send you it as a PDF.  There are a number of ways to do this. 

Then, go to crocodoc, and make a free account.  Use the personal option.

You will see “Home.”  Click on “Add Document,” and upload the PDF that you received.


It will then be shown in your document list.

Double-click and open it.  You’ll see a window like this.

(Sorry, I don’t know why these screen shots have a pinkish cast to them.)


Here, there’s quite a lot that you can do.

For me, the easiest thing is just to type on top of the document.  To do that, click on the “Text” button.  You will see the text tools.  I usually choose the red one, of course.  Choose the text size that you want.

Then, drag your pointer into the text.  It will change into an A in a box.  Click where you want to type and type any comments you want to make, like this:


If you want to move that square text box, just put your cursor on the gray edge.  It will become a hand, which means that you can drag it anywhere that you need to.

For editing text, I use the text tool also.  This is to save time so I do not need to switch between tools.  I just type over the part that needs to be changed, and draw a line with the dash/hyphen key through the text.  Like so:


Play around with this.  There’s a lot of things that you can do.  It takes some getting used to.

The other tools available are also useful in spots, but lately, I’ve used only the text tool to save time.

Anyway, when you are done, you’ll need to send this back to the student, who is undoubtedly waiting eagerly for it.

You can use the share button if you like, but I usually download the document and then send it directly to the student, so I have a copy on my own computer.

To do so, click on “download.”  Choose to download the marked-up PDF of course.  You might want to download the original also for your records.


That is it for crocodoc.  I suggest you give it a try if you correct a lot of essays and need a tool to do so online.

It is one of those tools that I’ve been thinking someone ought to make. Finally, someone did.

Good luck with it.

And  . . .for Moodle users, there is a good assignment plug in that is very similar to this called pdf submission.  It is a bit complicated since it has to be installed by an administrator, but it works well.