Monday 1 August 2016

SmartNote - Fast Document Annotation

A Free Document Productivity Tool For Word

SmartNote lets you enter annotations and placeholder text into documents. You can control the layout and highlighting with simple keystrokes. 

Later, you can browse for notes, and then convert them into standard text or remove them with a simple keystroke. 

The value of SmartNote is in the speed and simplicity of entry.

I use SmartNote to mark placeholder text that needs to be expanded later, or to record things that need to be filled in later, such dates or other information that is not currently clear.

I also use this tool when giving feedback to propose new alternate or additional text directly into the document.

The SmartReview tool (see later post) function allows me to check for these gaps before a document is released. Alternatively, you can use the find function to check for the layout character or for highlighted text.

Using SmartNote

When you press then SmartNote shortcut key, a new annotation is started. The "[" and "]" delimiters are inserted and the cursor is ready for typing.

You now type the note.  

You can also start a note by selecting a range of text and pressing the shortcut key.  The shortcut key puts the SmartNote delimiter around the text.

Pressing the shortcut key anywhere in a SmartNote toggles the colour from grey to yellow to Green.

SmartNote remembers the current colour and applies it to the next note.

SmartNote Delimiters

SmartNote uses two different delimiters.

Double tap the shortcut key and the delimiters toggle between [Text] and <<Text>>

SmartNote remembers the current delimiter and applies it to the next note.

Deleting SmartNotes

To delete a SmartNote, place the cursor anywhere in it and press the Delete SmartNote shortcut key.

The delimiter and highlight are removed converting the placeholder in to standard text.

Press the Delete SmartNote key and the text is deleted completely.


I have imporved SmartNote but including a third highlight with no delimiter. This allows you to highlight selected text and toggle the colour as normal, but without the "[" or "<" delimiters. To get into this mode, use the double tap feature until it is selected/

Learning about VBA

This tool is the first one to make use of the Double Tap concept, which allows me to add extra features to a basic tool without expanding the number of keys needed and without introducing additional user.

I have not seen anyone else using this concept.

It uses the VBA Timer functions to detect the time between two calls to the same procedure. If the difference is quick enough (a double tap), alternate code can be called.


I SmartNote because I can enter one with a single key. By pressing the same key I can toggle colours and delimiters and use the latest values for the next one.

I also like the ability to convert the placeholder text to standard text or delete the SmartNote with the same simple keystrokes.

This was one of the first macros I wrote, based on an idea from Ben Read - thanks Ben.

The Downloads tab contains a copy of SmartNote. There is more information on how it works in the release notes.


  1. The SmartNote is amazing. But i cannot find the download link for SmartReview.

  2. Hi. Thanks for the post - You will see that I have updated SmartNote with a third highlight mode. Smart Review will be published in a few weeks, after SmartComment which I am doing this weekend. When I upload SmartComment, the SmartReview code will be present, it just wont be highlighted by a specific post. Download the entire DocumentProductvity code and you'll find it.


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