MarginNote doesn't handle PDF page numbers correctly

The page numbers in PDFs of articles from journals very often do not begin on page 1, and PDFs of scholarly books very often use Roman numerals for the preface (i.e., i, ii, iii, iv, etc.), followed by Arabic numbers for the main chapters (i.e., 1, 2, 3, etc.).

MarginNote doesn’t seem to recognize either of these, and always just uses “absolute” page numbers.

Please consider adding support for PDF page numbers.


Thanks for the suggestion, your request has been recorded.

Kind Regards,
Support Team

I hope you will prioritize fixing this. It is really confusing that MN doesn’t support page numbers correctly.


I would like to add another reason why it is critical that MN handle page numbers correctly.

You may not be aware of this, but the standard practice of academic discussion of any book or article is that somebody in the class or working group says: “on page X, the author says…”, followed by a discussion of a specific passage/chart/etc. Very typically, the discussion moves through the book/article, using page numbers as the point of reference.

Since MN doesn’t handle PDF page numbers correctly, it is basically useless in these group discussions or any sort of group collaboration with non-MN users. The MN “Go to Page” (Cmd-P) function is useless, because the page numbers are wrong.

That is, the page numbers being used by the group are correct, and trying to participate using MN you are immediately lost and must always convert between the book or article’s true page numbers, and MN’s broken page numbers. Similarly, the MN page numbers in the TOC cannot be given to the group, and you must always zoom out and look at the entire PDF page, to get the correct number. In addition, there is apparently no way to change the scale of the PDF, so the MN window and its sub-panes must be resized and adjusted, simply to view the entire PDF page.

Please consider prioritizing a fix for this. It is a VERY serious and frustrating problem.


We need such a detailed description, thank you for your explanation. I highlighted the situation you mentioned to the developer.

Kind Regards,
Support Team

This is something I deal with as a student all the time. I’m often using a different (usually newer) version of a book. As such I never depend on software to inform me of page numbers. When the instructor points us to a specific page then it’s just a matter of looking around that page number to find it in a different edition.

Since MN is very weak on citation export I don’t depend on it also knowing page numbers. If that information isn’t built into the PDF at documentation time I’d rather MN not guess.

I realize this is a counterpoint but I thought it worth mentioning even if only to learn more about what users expect. None of the PDF tools I use do a perfect job with page numbering so I’ve learned to double and triple check my citations by hand anyway. I’d rather MN export citations at all, even with wrong page numbers! :smiley:


It is not really a workable solution to flip around in a 250-page book hunting for a passage when the page numbers are off by 20-30 pages. That’s how it is when you’ve got 20-30 pages of introductory material — fairly typical in the PDFs that I use.

And with all due respect, I think you have simply misunderstood my message.

The whole point is that the correct page numbering is already available inside the PDF file. There is no need to “guess” anything. MarginNote simply needs to parse the information that is already there in the file.

Adobe Acrobat, PDF Expert, Skim, Bookends, etc. — they all handle this correctly.

MarginNote doesn’t.

EDIT: This PDF functionality is referred to as “Page Labels”; for details, see “8.3.1 Page Labels” in Adobe’s PDF Reference, v. 1.7.

As for the issue of exporting citations, we have been asking about this for several years now, and the MarginNote team doesn’t seem to think it’s any sort of priority. Evidently, the “solution” offered is that we’re supposed to write our own code to export citations using the undocumented Plugin API.

If you want export, you’ll have to code it yourself.


Why is this feature still not available? Most textbooks with a table of contents don’t reference the introductory pages of the document. This sends the references in your excerpts out of whack. It’s also hard to follow along when someone asks you to reference page “12”, which is actually page 16 in Margin Note.