Reviewing PDF Documents using Skim

When reviewing PDF documents (papers, reports etc.) I often need to produce a list of comments in a separate text file. For quite some time I’ve been doing this by switching back and forth between the PDF viewer and a text editor but I’ve recently found a more efficient way of doing this so I thought I’d share it.

To avoid switching between applications, I started marking my comments using highlights in Skim and exporting them using File->Export->Notes as Text which creates a file with the following format.

* Highlight, page 2
some bold claim -> needs reference

* Highlight, page 3
confusing sentence -> Not entirely clear what this means

* Highlight, page 4
tyop -> typo

This was not quite the format I wanted, so to fix this I’ve created a new Skim template (Compact Notes.txt) which produces notes in the following format:

Page 2: some bold claim -> needs reference
Page 3: confusing sentence -> Not entirely clear what this means
Page 4: tyop -> typo

To use Compact Notes.txt, you need to download and place it under /Library/Application Support/Skim/Templates/ (you’ll need to create any missing folders in this hierarchy). Once the template is in place, you can choose it in the File Format drop down menu as displayed below:

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7 thoughts on “Reviewing PDF Documents using Skim

  1. Here is an template to output 2 column text notes in the right order
    Notes
    [$pages]
    Page [$pageIndex/]
    [$notes.@arraySortedByPageIndexAndBounds]
    [$bounds.rectX<=300?]
    [$type=Square?]
    [$string?][$string/]
    [/$string?][$text?][$text/]
    [/$text?]
    [?$type=Highlight?]
    [$string?][$string/]
    [/$string?][$text?][$text/]
    [/$text?]
    [?$type?]
    [/$type?]
    [?$bounds.rectX?]
    [/$bounds.rectX?]
    [?$notes.@arraySortedByPageIndexAndBounds]
    [/$notes.@arraySortedByPageIndexAndBounds]
    [$notes.@arraySortedByPageIndexAndBounds]
    [$bounds.rectX<=300?]
    [?$bounds.rectX?]
    [$type=Square?]
    [$string?][$string/]
    [/$string?][$text?][$text/]
    [/$text?]
    [?$type=Highlight?]
    [$string?][$string/]
    [/$string?][$text?][$text/]
    [/$text?]
    [?$type?]
    [/$type?]
    [/$bounds.rectX?]
    [?$notes.@arraySortedByPageIndexAndBounds]
    [/$notes.@arraySortedByPageIndexAndBounds]
    [/$pages]

  2. Another Skim export template in Tabular format
    find and replace [ by

    ——————————————————————————
    List of types attributes and strings sorted by page in ; delimited format:

    P;X;Y;type;R;B;G;String;Text
    [$pages]
    [$notes.@arraySortedByPageIndexAndBounds]
    [$bounds.rectX<=0?]
    [?$bounds.rectX?]
    [$pageIndex/] ;AX:[$bounds.rectX/];Y:[$bounds.rectY/];[$type.typeName/];R:[$color.redComponent/];B:[$color.blueComponent/];G:[$color.greenComponent/];[$string?][$string/] [/$string?]
    [$text~
    ?]##########SORRY LINE DELETED RETURNS INSIDE NOTE#############
    [?$text?][$text.string/]
    [/$text?]
    [/$bounds.rectX?]
    [?$notes.@arraySortedByPageIndexAndBounds]
    [/$notes.@arraySortedByPageIndexAndBounds]
    [/$pages]

    [$snapshots.@count?]
    Snapshots

    [$snapshots.@arraySortedByBounds]
    • Snapshot, page [$pageIndex.numberByAddingOne/]
    [$thumbnailAttachment/]

    [/$snapshots.@arraySortedByBounds]
    [/$snapshots.@count?]

  3. Skim export Template to output notes in the right order for columned pdf
    pdf files that have columns

    List of concepts:
    [$notes.@arraySortedByPageIndexAndBounds]
    [$type=Circle?]
    [$string?][$string/] ,[/$string?][$text?][$text/] ,[/$text?]
    [?$type?]
    [/$type?]
    [/$notes.@arraySortedByPageIndexAndBounds]

    Summary of Notes in two columned text:
    [$pages]
    Page [$pageIndex/]
    [$notes.@arraySortedByPageIndexAndBounds]
    [$bounds.rectX<=300?]
    [$type=Square?]
    [$string?][$string/]
    [/$string?][$text?][$text/]
    [/$text?]
    [?$type=Highlight?]
    [$string?][$string/]
    [/$string?][$text?][$text/]
    [/$text?]
    [?$type?]
    [/$type?]
    [?$bounds.rectX?]
    [/$bounds.rectX?]
    [?$notes.@arraySortedByPageIndexAndBounds]
    [/$notes.@arraySortedByPageIndexAndBounds]
    [$notes.@arraySortedByPageIndexAndBounds]
    [$bounds.rectX<=300?]
    [?$bounds.rectX?]
    [$type=Square?]
    [$string?][$string/]
    [/$string?][$text?][$text/]
    [/$text?]
    [?$type=Highlight?]
    [$string?][$string/]
    [/$string?][$text?][$text/]
    [/$text?]
    [?$type?]
    [/$type?]
    [/$bounds.rectX?]
    [?$notes.@arraySortedByPageIndexAndBounds]
    [/$notes.@arraySortedByPageIndexAndBounds]
    [/$pages]

    List of types:
    [$pages]
    Page [$pageIndex/]
    [$notes.@arraySortedByPageIndexAndBounds]
    [$bounds.rectX<=300?]
    [$pageIndex/] Kolom 1 X:[$bounds.rectX/] Y:[$bounds.rectY/] [$type.typeName/]
    [?$bounds.rectX?]
    [/$bounds.rectX?]
    [?$notes.@arraySortedByPageIndexAndBounds]
    [/$notes.@arraySortedByPageIndexAndBounds]
    [$notes.@arraySortedByPageIndexAndBounds]
    [$bounds.rectX<=300?]
    [?$bounds.rectX?]
    [$pageIndex/] Kolom 2 X:[$bounds.rectX/] Y:[$bounds.rectY/] [$type.typeName/]
    [/$bounds.rectX?]
    [?$notes.@arraySortedByPageIndexAndBounds]
    [/$notes.@arraySortedByPageIndexAndBounds]
    [/$pages]

    List of types and strings
    [$notes.@arraySortedByPageIndexAndBounds]
    [$bounds.rectX<=300?]
    [$pageIndex/] 1 X:[$bounds.rectX/] Y:[$bounds.rectY/] [$type.typeName/] [$string/]
    [?$bounds.rectX?]
    [$pageIndex/] 2 X:[$bounds.rectX/] Y:[$bounds.rectY/] [$type.typeName/] [$string/]
    [/$bounds.rectX?]
    [/$notes.@arraySortedByPageIndexAndBounds]

    [$snapshots.@count?]
    Snapshots

    [$snapshots.@arraySortedByBounds]
    • Snapshot, page [$pageIndex.numberByAddingOne/]
    [$thumbnailAttachment/]

    [/$snapshots.@arraySortedByBounds]
    [/$snapshots.@count?]

  4. Dimitri, this is wonderful. I am a law postgrad at Cambridge and I’ve been using Skim a lot to make quick notes from the incredible number of articles we are assigned. It’s definitely easier and less time consuming than outlining everything in text editor. However, I found the not-so-compact output format terribly annoying. Your compact notes template worked wonders! Thank you!

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