CanvasCanvas AssignmentsHow do I create a Student Annotation assignment?

How do I create a Student Annotation assignment?

Canvas allows instructors to post a document annotation assignment, which presents students with a document and requires them to annotate it with text, highlighting, free drawing, and comments. The student annotation tools are the same tools instructors have available to them in the SpeedGrader.

The document to be annotated can be of any of the following file types:

.doc .docx
.ppt .pptx
.xls .xlsx
.rtf .txt
.jpg .jpeg .png


Students can only annotate the document. They cannot edit the document. Students cannot delete text, insert images or links, edit PowerPoint slides, or edit Excel data.

Student annotation assignments cannot be set up as Group Assignments, but they can be peer reviewed.

Upload the document you want students to annotate to your Files tool

Files tool with "Assignments" folder and sample PDF highlighted

If your Files tool is not hidden from students,  set the files "publish" setting to "Only available to students with a link." This ensures that students will only be able to access the file via the assignment.

Editing file permissions modal with option for "Only available to students with link" highlighted
Files tool with sample PDF's visibility icon highlighted: an eye with a line through it indicating the file is Only available to students with link

Go to Assignments

Navigation menu with Assignments highlighted

Click Add (+) Assignment

Add Assignment button highlighted

Enter the assignment details

Assignment details screen with title, instructions, points, Assignment Group and Display Grade As all populated

Under Submission Type, select "Student Annotations"

Submission Type area of Assignment Details screen with "Student Annotation" option checked

Click Course Files

Submission Type area of Assignment Details screen with "Student Annotation" option checked and Assignments folder selected under Course Files

This displays all the folders and files in your Files tool

Select the file you want the students to annotate in this assignment

Course Files area of the assignment details screen with the sample PDF selected

Complete the Assign section of the Assignment

Assign to area of the assignment details screen with due dates and times populated

Click Save or Save & Publish

Save and Publish and Save buttons highlighted

When a student clicks on the Student Annotation assignment, they will be able to read the directions and click on a "Start Assignment" button.

Student view of Assignment instructions. Start Assignment button is highlighted

After clicking on the Start Assignment button, students are presented with the file in a Canvas document viewer with all of the annotation tools available to them.

View of Canvas SpeedGrader with sample PDF shown in the viewer. Annotation tools are highlighted. Student has annotated PDF with two comments.

Instructors can view and grade the student annotated document in the SpeedGrader.

Instructor view of SpeedGrader with student annotations shown.