Feature Suggestion: Merge annotations

I've been testing Zotero beta, and the PDF annotation features in particular. They're great, I love not having to open a seperate app. However, sometimes I want to highlight a sentence that extends across two pages, and that doesn't work cleanly if there are foot notes.

So if I could highlight each half of the sentence separately, then merge the two highlights, that would be great.
  • @martynas_b can confirm, but I don't think it's possible for a PDF annotation to span multiple pages. (If you try to highlight across multiple pages in macOS Preview, you end up with two separate annotations.)
  • edited May 9, 2021
    Granted, since these are our own annotations, we could fake this when viewed within Zotero, but we'd have to look into how complicated that would be. We're also a bit more limited in what we can do in the iOS app, and we wouldn't want to support something that didn't work well on a synced device.

    At the very least, if you exported to an external program, you'd necessarily end up with multiple annotations.
  • Displaying two or more annotations (from different pages) as a single annotation, probably, won't happen because there are too many complications with this. We could only consider to allow them grouping somehow. Having another text between the annotations complicates things even more.
  • grouping would also solve my problem, that would be cool for all sorts of other applications too. like picking out key lines in arguments.
  • I understand the difficulty with merging annotations from different pages, but occasionally I find myself finding it difficult to highlight an annotation consecutively on a single page (for example, on my smaller laptop screen or mobile, I start highlighting only to discover that the annotation needs to go beyond what is visible). To keep the annotation together, at present, I have to delete the original annotation, and scroll/zoom to make the annotation appear, then re-highlight. Would merging annotations for that use case be possible (even if this is far down the list of things to do?)
  • edited March 23, 2022
    I second the previous comment. My use of Apple Pencil is a bit finicky and I lose contact with the screen quite often, resulting on highlights of what I would like them to be, which then requires three more clicks to delete, plus one more sliding of a new highlight.

    I would understand the possibility of someone wanting/needing composite highlighting. Perhaps there could be a setting where one chooses how this behavior should work?

    As an example, the app Documents by Readdle has a working highlighter merging (but lots of other problems, naturally ;) ).
  • edited March 23, 2022
    We'll look into it merging highlights on the same page.

    (Just to note, you can already merge ink annotations, though not highlight annotations, from the sidebar in the iOS app.)
  • edited May 12, 2022
    I agree that merging or grouping multiple highlights would be useful, both on the same pages as well as on multiple pages. Currently, when manually editing the page number of a specific annotation, you can set it to a range of pages (e.g. "9-10") and the citation will be correctly shown as "pp. 9-10" when exporting the note. This could automatically happen when highlights on multiple pages are grouped.

    Regarding merging/grouping highlights with text in-between, Zotero could automatically insert an ellipsis in (square) brackets.
  • +1.
    Skim has a feature of merging highlights on the same page, and I found it very helpful; sometimes I don't need to highlight a whole sentence but only parts of it, and it can still stay together.

    I love the pdf tools though, super helpful.
  • +1 to merging annotations across pages.

    In the meantime, I'm using a somewhat tedious workaround to simulate merging annotations across consecutive pages. This is particularly helpful when I'm using the "Add note from annotations" feature to enhance the readability of the generated notes. I edit the annotation text so that the full quotation appears in a single annotation, and I edit the page number to reflect the full page range of the quote. Explained in more detail below:

    Scenario: there's a sentence that hits the end of one page and continues on to the next page.
    1 - Highlight the text on one page, then the other.
    2 - Cut or copy the portion of the OCR'd quote that appears on one of the two pages. (It doesn't really matter if you choose the first or second page, as long as you choose the other page in the next step.)
    3 - In the annotations sidebar on the left, select the annotation for the second page, then edit the annotation text. (On iOS, simply click on the text. On desktop, right-click the annotation and select Edit Highlighted Text.) Paste the clipboard so that the entire quote is present in a single annotation.
    4 - Edit the page number for the quote to include both pages. ie. if the quote begins on page 22, edit the page number so that it says "22-23".

    This makes the quote much nicer to work with annotations in drag-and-drop workflows or when creating notes from annotations.
  • + 1

    Merging or grouping highlights, at least for highlights on the same pages and on multiple pages if possible.
  • +1
    Citavi has a relevant feature as it is possible to press ctrl or shift to add or delete words from highlighted text. This can span over many pages and can also include some sentences within a paragraph while neglecting some words in between.
    Having these features in Zotero will be very beneficial for more flexible and accurate annotations.
  • +1 This is super necessary for workflow since its very common that paragraphs extend beyond the limits of one page and extends to the next one.

    I solve it manually by editting notes and copy paste them.

    The guys from Readwise add a code to the note in order to indicate that it should be concatenated by adding a note to the highlight, so tehy write '.c1' and '.c2' on the next one and then highlights are merged into one.
  • + 1 merging highlights on the same page
  • Signing in to suggest implementing this feature in a similar way to Readwise Reader, where you can enter ".c1", ".c2", ".c3" etc in the comments of successive highlights and the program knows to merge these together. (I'd also love to add in Readwise-like support for creating a document outline by commenting ".h1", ".h2", ".h3" at successive levels of highlights.)
  • There's a better-notes add-on that does something like this (nb: documentation not in English). Changes quite a lot about how you manage notes, so might not be everyone's favourite, but works for me. Among other things, also alows export to markdown and a note taking app with cross-links like roam/obsidian/logseq
  • While not a merging of the highlights, for which I too Plus 1, I have simply copied the text from the second page and added to the first annotation box. It's manual and a not conducive to flowing through a paper for note taking.
  • +1.

    Zotero is brilliant, but adding the ability to merge highlights (annotations) would be a game-changer for many...

    It happens all the time: You highlight a few words and just realize that you want to select more, such as the entire sentence. Having to delete the existing one to create a larger one is cumbersome. PDFexpert connects automatically, by default. Skimm allows you to join annotations, even in different places on a page, by selecting them while pressing shift.
  • @marinho.barcellos You can already shrink or expand existing highlight annotations in Zotero 7 beta.
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