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How To Go Paperless In Studio
With An iPad & Foxit Mobile PDF

By J. Christopher Dunn
Voice Actor

When I was preparing to open the door of my voice over business, I made a list of all the office goodies I needed.

One of the items was a printer, and I had my mind set on a multifunction unit. I thought having print/fax/scan capabilities in one easy-to-use box would be the most efficient way to go. I made the purchase and printed off into the sunset.  

Well, not really. You see, I bought an inkjet version and quickly found that I was going through cartridges faster than a Hummer guzzles a tank of gas. I found myself making my way though reams of paper as well.

I had a huge box of printed scripts to recycle every month. It took little time for me to figure out that I needed something more efficient, more green. 


I’d read that a number of my voice over peers had made the migration to iPad for scripts. This appealed to me on several levels.
  • With an iPad, my paper and ink cartridge consumption would be significantly reduced.
  • My office would be more green.
  • Plus, the iPad would be a super-cool buy, satisfying my inner gadget geekness.  

I made the purchase, an iPad II/16-Gig.

Next was to load it with software that would make the purchase pay for itself. I needed something to read scripts.

I used iOS Pages at first, but found that it was missing the ability to handle PDF formatted files.  

I tried several PDF readers (too many to list!) before finally arriving on what I believe to be the ultimate PDF tool, Foxit Mobile PDF by Foxit Corporation.

It allows me to view and easily navigate PDFs, plus it has a number of ways to annotate or markup the text. I can bookmark, highlight text in multiple colors, type notes for phonetics, write direction notes, strike text and more.  


Foxit Mobile PDF is perfect for the audiobooks I produce.

This screenshot shows my markups for a recently produced audiobook. I wrote in chapter numbers, typed in audiobook-specific replacement text, and highlighted sections for pickups.

The screenshot also shows the app’s toolbar, document navigation slider on the right, and page view and page number in the lower right.  


The slide panel in this screenshot reveals four useful tools that allow me to navigate to a specific bookmark, review the chapters or outline of a document, see my annotations and search for text.  

The one drawback to using an iPad for scripts is that markups during a directed session are a bit cumbersome, but it’s still doable.

It’s not as easy for me to write in a quick note or strike words on the tablet’s surface as it is to do it with pencil and paper. I’ve caught myself a few times going for my pencil.

Perhaps the natural thing to do would be to migrate to a stylus.  


Foxit Mobile PDF is available for a limited time at no charge from the App Store.  

I’m sure there are other PDF readers/annotators that you have used and I’d like to hear about them.

And since I’m interested in trying out a stylus, I’m open to suggestions.

Also, what are the things you’ve done to make YOUR studio more green? Let us know in the COMMENTS below.
J. Christopher Dunn is a professional voice actor who lives in the Pacific Northwest close to Seattle. He voices commercials, web demos, podcasts, product demonstrations, telephony projects and documentaries. His voice is described as friendly, warm and trustworthy - the guy next door or the voice of high profile corporate presentations. He also spends time with the Penn Cove Players, a Whidbey Island, WA troupe that performs original audio dramas, as we all as recreates old time radio shows in front of a live studio audience.

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Comments (8)
Anna Castiglioni
4/15/2016 at 3:54 PM
Thanks for the recommendation! I've been a paper-free audiobook producer since a few chapters into my first book. I have been using a word processor, and have been looking for a way to annotate and "scribble" in the margins. Does Foxit work on notebooks with touch capability?
Julio Perez
2/12/2013 at 4:58 PM
J. Christopher-

The Mac Observer yesterday (02/11/2013) published an interesting article on styli for iPads, available at URL Hope this additional information helps...
J. Christopher Dunn
2/6/2013 at 7:28 PM
Great feedback so far.

Julio - The information about the two styli are appreciated. Since writing this, I've received a workaround from my VO friend Doug Turkel who suggested applying a screen protector to my iPad and using dry-erase pens for quick markups during directed sessions. Great idea! So now I have two systems to think about.

James - Great question. Foxit has the ability to open PDFs from Dropbox, but in its current version does not save back to Dropbox. However, it does have a Wi-Fi setting allowing me to access my annotated files on my iPad with my computer browser. I see the advantage of having move to or save to Dropbox support. I'll send the developer an e-mail with the request.

Roxanne - Thanks for answering James' question. iAnnotate is another popular choice used by a number of vo peeps, like Catherine. I've heard nothing but good things about it.

Catherine - No sense dropping what works well for you. However, if you are curious, Foxit PDF is free so you could give it a test drive.

Thanks so much for reading my article.
J. Christopher
Julio Perez
2/6/2013 at 4:19 PM
In terms of styli, I switch around between two different ones, depending on what else I'll have to do during my day.

If you are accustomed to pens using gel-based inks, the Targus Executive Stylus & Pen ( For Tablets by Targus USA&productCategoryId=42&bucketTypeId=0&searchedTerms=&navlevel1=products&cp=&bannertxt=Stylus For Tablets) is properly weighted and supposedly uses Cross gel-based inks. I have tried refilling it, however, with Pilot G2 ink cartridges and they work fine.

On the other hand, if you are accustomed to pens using oil-based inks, and/or need a pencil, Cross' Tech3 Multi-Function Pens ( deserve a look. This is basically an "upgraded" version of the original Tech3 which substitutes the metal cap surrounding the eraser with a stylus cap. For readers that already have the pen, Cross will sell it as an accessory for a nominal fee. One drawback of this pen is while it is a Cross, because it is a multi-function writing instrument (0.5 mm pencil, red ink, and black ink), it does not use Cross' standard ink cartridges and you must go through Cross to purchase refills.

Either one of the options above feel properly weighted and comfortable when using either for writing on "real" paper or on a smartphone/tablet.
Roxanne Coyne
2/6/2013 at 1:57 PM
This is a comment for James...

James, I can only comment on iAnnotate, but perhaps you will want to look into it. When you use DropBox you can set up a shared folder in the cloud. I use DropBox all the time to send stuff back and forth to my clients, to editors, and to myself (from my laptop to my desktop to my iPad). When you mark up your script in iAnnotate, those notations show up in the document that is stored in the DropBox folder, so your proofreader will have access to your marked up script. No need to print! Anyone who shares your DropBox folder will see your annotated manuscript.
Roxanne Coyne
2/6/2013 at 12:47 PM
Thanks for the article, Chris!! Like you, my paper consumption is WAY down since I started using my iPad as a script reader. For shorter stuff that comes in excel or word format I can just open it without a reader. I like that, but the one shortcoming is that I can't annotate the doc, so if I have to do pickups I have to somehow note where they are off the page....sort of a pain.

Another good reader for PDF docs is iAnnotate. You send your pdf document to iAnnotate using DropBox and then you can make notations to your heart's delight. By using iAnnotate I've managed to avoid printing and sending paper manuscripts around the country. It has saved both time and tons of money.

I look forward to looking into Foxit and comparing with iAnnotate. Thank you so much for your article!
2/6/2013 at 12:39 PM
I use iAnnotate and love it. Easy to markup, highlight, attach notes, and even add audio recordings (great for pronunciation help).
James Lewis
2/6/2013 at 4:47 AM
Many thanks for the info.

How do you handle prooflistening? My proofer and I exchange scripts printed on paper.
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