7 Best PDF Markup Software Solutions for Construction Projects

Tired of the endless email chains between you and your team? Or the hours wasted following up on critical details in contracts, blueprints, or other vital construction documents? It may be time to invest in PDF markup software. 

PDF markup solutions can provide smoother communication and collaboration on construction projects. But how do you choose the right one in today’s endless sea of options? The key is knowing which features to look for in PDF markup tools and assessing each option to determine if it aligns with your workflows and needs. 

Here, we’ll take you through some essential features to look for and evaluate some of the best PDF markup software to bring you closer to finding the right fit. 

Features to look for in PDF markup software

While it may sound cliche, collaboration is the backbone of successful construction. It prevents costly delays, helps projects remain on track, and ultimately results in happier clients. 

There are several tips for promoting collaboration in construction projects. But we’re going to focus on one of the most important ones: leverage the right technology for efficient and effective document markups. Read on for some key features to look for in your markup software.

Intuitive markup tools

Intuitive markup tools like text, shapes, standard forms, and images can promote streamlined PDF editing and collaboration, allowing you to get more done quickly. You can easily add PDF annotations and comments and even highlight specific parts of PDF documents to bring attention to critical areas. 

When assessing your PDF markup software choices, look for options with an intuitive design. They should have an easy-to-follow user interface that allows you to annotate, edit, or highlight your document quickly and with a minimal learning curve. 

Real-time collaboration

We can’t overstate the importance of real-time collaboration in construction projects. It can save time, boost productivity, minimize miscommunication, and save money you’d otherwise spend correcting avoidable mistakes. 

With reworks taking up as much as 2% to 20% of a project’s cost, anything that helps you avoid mistakes in the first place is well worth investing in.

Look for a markup tool that allows real-time collaboration. This will help your teams work together more efficiently, share feedback instantly, and make decisions faster — no matter where they’re located. 

This is especially important if you expect to work with external contractors, architects, or engineers, as they may not always be available to meet in person. 

Assigning, tracking, and reviewing tasks

Organization is vital in project management. You want to know who is in charge of what and be able to track their progress throughout your project’s lifecycle to ensure everything moves along on schedule. That’s where task management features come into play. 

Look for markup software that allows you to assign, track, and review tasks within your PDF documents to streamline project management. This will also promote accountability among team members. 

Reviewing document history and activity

The ability to edit PDF files is undoubtedly a game-changer for construction companies, as it facilitates quick revisions and approvals. However, it can present certain issues when it comes to maintaining quality control and ensuring accountability. 

To prevent these kinds of problems, you need a tool that allows you to review document history and activity in a thread. This way, you can easily determine who made what changes, when, and why whenever quality issues arise. 

For example, with ActiveDraft, the threads feature shows all changes to your PDF documents and user comments for greater transparency. 


A PDF markup tool without a notification feature is like a phone that doesn’t let you know when someone calls or texts. Being able to edit text in PDF documents won’t help much if your team isn’t notified about the changes. 

To address this, ensure any potential tool notifies all relevant team members of changes, comments, or completed tasks within a document in real time. This can enhance project workflows and reduce the need for external communication tools.

Multi-device support

Can you imagine having to log into your computer whenever there’s a new communication about a construction project? This can get tiring fast for all project stakeholders. 

So ensure convenience for yourself and your team members by only considering markup systems with multi-device support. This feature can boost flexibility and accessibility for users, allowing them to view, edit, and collaborate on documents from any device, anywhere.

The top 7 PDF markup tools

We know comparing dozens of software options can be daunting. That’s why we’ve shortlisted seven great options that cover the must-have features above!

Here are some PDF markup tools (some with free versions and paid versions) to consider for your construction needs.

1. ActiveDraft

ActiveDraft is a browser-based document collaboration tool specially built for construction teams to facilitate project efficiency. You can edit text, add annotations, and markup drawings and designs seamlessly with the tool’s user-friendly interface. 

Thanks to our dynamic library, you can also add a wide range of shapes, from circles to stars, to your blueprints or photos in real time. And the best part? You can customize the software’s presets to fit your needs, allowing for faster document reviews and revisions. 

This tool is a great option for anyone in the construction industry, from architects looking for quicker design reviews and feedback to builders looking to streamline team collaboration. 

Key features

  • Expansive shape library facilitates quicker document markup 
  • Ability to upload many different types of construction documents, including blueprints and project contracts 
  • Task management features that allow you to assign, track, and review team members’ tasks 
  • Threads feature that highlights PDF document history, as well as all associated comments 
  • Centralized, browser-based location for all construction documents 
  • Robust access management so only authorized parties can access PDF documents 
  • Measurement tools to enable better drawing assessments and reviews 

2. Bluebeam Revu

The PDF management tool Bluebeam Revu is another viable option. It contains intuitive markup tools like text and shapes, allowing users to annotate PDF documents with everything from comments to symbols. 

The tool is suitable for various professionals, including project managers looking for better document handling and architects seeking markup features for construction drawings. 

Key features

  • Customizable tool sets 
  • Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to facilitate quick searches 
  • Integration capabilities with tools like Microsoft Office and AutoCAD 

3. Adobe Acrobat Reader

Looking for free PDF markup software? Adobe Acrobat Reader could be a viable option. The tool facilitates simple PDF revisions through annotation tools like strikethrough, insert text, and replace text. It’s best for construction teams dealing with small PDFs, as it can get sluggish when you upload large PDFs. 

Key features

  • Freehand drawing tools
  • Ease of navigation, thanks to its search functionality, bookmarks, and page thumbnails
  • Integration capabilities with other Adobe tools for streamlined workflows

4. Microsoft OneNote

While not exclusively a PDF editing tool, Microsoft OneNote enables various PDF markup tasks, such as strikethroughs, underlines, and text editing. It’s a suitable choice for anyone looking for basic editing features. 

However, it’s worth noting that this software has extra features, such as the ability to share links and translate text into different languages. This gives it a steeper learning curve than exclusive markup tools. 

Key features

  • Add signatures to PDF documents 
  • Export PDFs to Dropbox or Google Drive
  • Add notes to files 

5. Plangrid

Plangrid is a construction productivity tool that general contractors and onsite construction workers use to collaborate on everything from building plans to drawings. It’s a viable tool for PDF markups because of its intuitive design and accessibility on numerous devices, from Windows to iOS and Android. 

Key features

  • Allows users to upload various documents, including blueprints, photos, and project plans 
  • Saves changes automatically and notifies users if they’re working on old document versions 
  • Lets users shade documents with different colors to highlight work that needs to be finished and document changes 

6. Foxit Reader

Foxit Reader is a top option for both small and large construction teams, thanks to its many markup and annotation tools. You can highlight, underline, strikethrough, and comment on your PDF, insert calculations into your document, share links to your markups, and view all your annotations in a summary. 

Key features

  • Drawing tools that allow you to incorporate customized shapes and edits into your documents 
  • Signature tools for signing PDFs 
  • Text-to-speech capabilities for easy note-taking 
  • Robust security features, including password protection 

7. Nitro

Nitro is a free PDF editor. The tool’s intuitive design allows you to seamlessly create, edit, and share documents with your team, saving you a lot of time. 

It’s a viable option for project managers looking for extensive markup capabilities, as it allows you to fill out forms, annotate, and highlight text. You can also rearrange and delete pages within PDF documents. 

Key features

  • Includes an OCR feature that allows users to pull text from images like screenshots 
  • Enables PDF conversion to Excel, Word, and PowerPoint
  • Supports a wide range of file formats, including images and Word documents 
  • Allows users to add text boxes for easy collaboration and annotations 

Streamline Your PDF Markup and Annotation Process with ActiveDraft

The right PDF markup software is a great asset for your team, as it can facilitate more effective document reviews and revisions — and more effective collaboration. When you opt for a tool that offers the features discussed above, your team can work together better and achieve results quicker, saving you money and time.

With ActiveDraft, you can say goodbye to all of your PDF markup problems. Our solution is purpose-built for the construction industry and provides all the tools you need to annotate, edit, and collaborate on your construction documents.

Ready for better document collaboration? Get started for free with ActiveDraft today!


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