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Mark up your web pages with a virtual fluorescent marker

written by: Profacgillies•edited by: Jean Scheid•updated: 6/28/2011
4

Many of us like to mark up documents with a fluorescent marker pen to emphasize certain passages. Now you can do the same on the screen using an add-on for your Firefox browser. There are a number of add-ons available, considered in this review: which is the best?

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    Introduction

    One of the things that people do with documents is to highlight passages of particular interest with a marker pen usually in fluorescent yellow or pink or orange. You can do the same thing with word processor documents in Microsoft Word which has a highlight facility to as the tool tip says “make text look like it has been marked with a highlighter pen”. This facility is also provided within Firefox through a number of add-ons which can be used to tailor your browsing experience. However, although there are a number of add-ons they work in slightly different ways.

     

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    The Highlighter add-on

    This add-on works fairly straightforwardly. Once downloaded, if you select some text and right click on the text, you get a highlight option. The blurb states that if you use [Shift] and right-click you can choose your highlighting color, but I found that this did not always function reliably on my setup (Firefox 3 running under Vista). Worse, when I moved away from the page, the highlighting was lost, which seemed to undermine this add-on’s usefulness. A glance at the version date suggested that it had not been updated since 2006, so this may account for some of the limitations although it does validate as version 3 compatible.

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    The TextMarker add-on

    This add-on is of similar vintage to Highlighter but is incompatible with version 3 of Firefox, so I was unable to test it.

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    The Diigo add-on

    At the other end of the spectrum is Diigo. This offers a whole range of flexible functions including highlighting and Post-it notes that can be added to pages and will stay attached to your pages. It also allows you to take your bookmarks with you wherever you go (see http://www.brighthub.com/office/home/reviews/29332.aspx to compare this functionality with the Scrapbook add-on) and share them with colleagues and friends. However, in order to take advantage of this you need to join the Diigo social networking site. If you are a Facebook, Twittery kind of person, this may be just what you are looking for: if not, it may seem like a step to far just to highlight a phrase in a document!

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    The Wired Marker add-on

    Wired Marker is commercial freeware rather than open-source. It offers a modern up-to-date solution with some useful options but without the complexity of joining a whole social networking site. To highlight, simply right-click and select the top option Highlight. A further sub-menu offers a choice of highlighter colors. A highlighted section can also be removed by right-clicking. The highlighting stays on the page until removed. It is the most popular of the highlighter add-ons in terms of downloads, and the online reviews are generally favorable with some users complaining of its complexity and others highlighting specific gripes with the latest (Feb 2009) version..

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    Conclusions

    The facility to highlight text on a web page seems a good one. Of the add-ons available, Wired Marker seems the best option unless you want the social networking facilities of Diigo.