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Adobe Tip of the Week: Adding Tick Marks to PDF Source Documents


This post kicks off a new blog segment: the Adobe Tip of the Week. Once a week I’ll post about Adobe Acrobat Standard basic functionality, tips, shortcuts, and other tricks that are helpful when preparing returns using scanned client source documents. I hope you will find them useful—and feel free to post your own tips and shortcuts in the comments section.

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First up, we’ll cover how to add tick marks (or custom stamps) to PDF documents.

Tick marks are sets of characters (for example: a red check mark) that you can use to mark items that have been reviewed when preparing a return. In Adobe Acrobat, this functionality is covered with the stamp tool.

First you’ll need some images to use for tick marks. For this, you can download our free tick mark library. In here you will find a variety of tick mark styles and colors to use—free of charge. Simply save this folder ( to your computer. Then open the Zip file to extract all the tick marks (PDF files) and save them on your computer.

Installing Tick Marks in Adobe Acrobat

Installing the tick marks in Adobe Acrobat is a simple process of importing, naming and saving each tick mark (PDF file image) as a custom stamp. The stamp tool is on the Comments & Markup Toolbar in Acrobat.

To install each tick mark:

  1. Click on the Stamp button
  2. Select: Create Custom Stamp
    create custom stamp

  3. Using the Browse button, select an image to use for a custom stamp (tick mark).

    Choose a Stamp Image
  4. Name and Savethe tick marks
    • In stamp Category box, type “Tick Marks” 
    • In the Name box, type the name of the tick mark. In this example, the tick mark is “Red Tick Mark”
    Red Tick Mark
  5. Repeat the installation steps for each tick mark that you’d like to add to the “Tick Marks” category you created in Acrobat.

The first time you create a custom stamp in Adobe Acrobat, the system will ask for the user’s contact information. This information is linked to the custom stamps and annotations. When placing any tick marks or annotations in a PDF source document, Adobe Acrobat will associate this information with the annotation. This makes it easy to determine the author of tick marks and comments when reviewing returns.

Identity Setup

Now your tick marks are ready to use. Select the Stamp tool button and click on any of your new tick marks. Then click the area on the document where you would like to make a tick mark.

Choose a Tick Mark

TIP: Consider using a specific set of tick marks for each preparer to make it easy to see who created the tick mark. Example: Preparer 1 uses all blue marks and Preparer 2 uses all green tick marks.   

So now you know how to make tick marks on digital tax workpapers—just like you would on paper source documents. To learn more about how to set up Adobe Acrobat Standard to work with PDF source documents, download our free white paper: Five Essential Techniques for Preparing Returns Using Scanned Tax Documents.


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