Counting annotations in a PDF

Please keep in mind that this post is about 3 years old.
Technology may have changed in the meantime.

Suppose that you wrote a book, and your publisher sent you a PDF of the final proof to review and correct, before the book is printed. Then you may want to know how many notes you’ve added to the document when you’re done.

$ env LC_CTYPE=C tr -d '\000-\011\013\014\016-\037' < FILENAME.pdf | grep -E '^<</Type /Annot /Rect \[[0-9\. ]+\] /Subtype /Text' | wc -l

It’s that simple…

And if you’d like to know how many terms you highlighted, all you have to do is replace /Text with /Highlight.

$ env LC_CTYPE=C tr -d '\000-\011\013\014\016-\037' < FILENAME.pdf | grep -E '^<</Type /Annot /Rect \[[0-9\. ]+\] /Subtype /Highlight' | wc -l

Inline notes are of subtype /FreeText.

And to count all your annotations, regardless of type, just delete the subtype altogether.

$ env LC_CTYPE=C tr -d '\000-\011\013\014\016-\037' < FILENAME.pdf | grep -E '^<</Type /Annot' | wc -l

Open your PDF in less to see what other interesting things you could do with grep; pipe the file through tr to get rid of the control characters.

$ env LC_CTYPE=C tr -d '\000-\011\013\014\016-\037' < FILENAME.pdf | less


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Counting annotations in a PDF