Troubleshooting: Assignment Grading Blank Preview

Sometimes when using the PDF annotator built into Assignment grading a student will submit a file and the preview will be blank, there may still be some ways to see what the student submitted or otherwise have that student save their work before submitting it to you.

Often when this happens the software the student used (such as Mac’s Preview app or Google Docs) may not save a fully compatible version of a PDF file and so Moodle doesn’t quite know what to do with it.

Look for a second page

Sometimes when a file is converted into a PDF it’ll create a blank cover page, just view the next page (if present) to view and grade the document.

Prevention for future submissions

Unfortunately, Moodle does not currently have a fix to prevent this issue.

Entire file is blank or is the empty template

Manually download and open the file. NOTE: It’s likely that the downloaded file will appear in your Downloads folder.. unless you have indicated otherwise.

Enter your grades and feedback back in Moodle.

Prevention for future submissions

This depends heavily on the software used to create the file uploaded by the student. You can ask them to take these steps:

Microsoft Word, LibreOffice, Etc.

Sometimes this issue is caused from rogue formatting that often occurs from repeated copy/pasting of content into or within the document.
WARNING: This step MAY remove all formatting like headings, font size, bold text, etc.

  1. Highlight their entire document (Ctrl+A on the keyboard, Command+A on a Mac)
  2. Click the Clear all formatting button (appears as the letter A next to a pink eraser) under the Home tab.
Mac’s Preview tool, Google Docs

From the File menu make sure to Export as PDF…
This will still create a first issue of a blank cover page but it will at least be readable to Moodle.