Teaching Station: Annotation

January 13, 2021   Martin Jones
Annotate to communicate

Remote teaching has stolen the ability to physically position yourself next to an item of interest on the projection screen. Annotation software provides an alternative.

Screen Hilighting and Annotation

Screen Highlighting and Annotation

By highlighting I mean making the position of the pointer clear. Changing the size and shape of the pointer is probably the easiest option here. I use a slightly more advanced option of a circle with transparency, as shown in the photo above.

For annotation I mean drawing lines, boxes, ellipses and so on that can sit semi-permanently over an item of interest. I drew some in the photo above.

Some applications, particularly PDF viewers, already have this ability built-in, but we need a common solution for any application. There are a few programs that can provide this functionality. I haven’t found one that provides the perfect set of features though.

Currently, I am using Presentation Pointer. It provides the features that are important to me:

Although I have only shown one annotation colour in the photo above, it is possible to use more than one colour and draw different shapes.

Previously I had used Pointer Focus, but I found the ever-present control wheel to be a pain.

I investigated Epic Pen, but I didn’t get it drawing using a transparent colour.

There’s also Presentation Marker. I think one company sells this and Presentation Pointer. I guess that they have two similar products in the hope of more business?

If I had to recommend one that wasn’t Presentation Pointer, it would be ppInk. This has some handy features, far more than Presentation Pointer. Two that I really like are text, and the ability to click and have increasing numbers appear. I chose not to use it because it doesn’t support pointer highlighting and I don’t want too much to be running on the machine. ppInk is a fork of gInk, adding more functionality.


Highlighting and annotation are both useful tools for a remote instructor. You should experiment to find the right piece of software for you.