4 Chatting with a PDF Resource Using ChatDOC

Katrina Korchinski

Image created with Stable Diffusion

Prompt: “It is midday and the sun hangs bright in the sky. The prairie hills roll into the distance with fields of yellow and green. There are mountains in the distance. A checkered picnic blanket sits in the foreground, with a laptop sitting open upon it. Complimentary colours. Magical touches. Anime style.”



In the midst of a busy work day, words like efficiency, instant, reliable, and productivity boost are alluring and invigorating. ChatDOC is a ChatGPT based generative AI tool designed to read uploaded files and provide learners with summaries, information, and questions. For teachers, ChatDOC expedites processes of resource discovery, lesson preparation, and the creation of assessment tools such as leveled questions that can be used to generate class discussion. To successfully complete course outcomes, students need to be able to read and extract information from a variety of texts such as articles, stories, essays, and tables. ChatDOC can quickly identify and define difficult vocabulary, and generate grade appropriate questions that connect to each level of Bloom’s Taxonomy. These words, definitions, and questions can be used to assess student comprehension through discussion groups and written responses. ChatDOC can also create instant text summaries that teachers can provide to students for review, or as a tool for students to use in class to assess and better their own understanding of a resource. For students, ChatDOC assists by providing summaries, key points, and explanations to increase comprehension, as well as generate questions to help with study and review. Notably, every answer generated by ChatDOC is accompanied by reliable citations for efficient location of textual evidence. For both teacher and student, ChatDOC is an AI tool that boosts productivity and efficiency by generating instant and reliable information from uploaded files. It is a tool that can reduce teacher workload and enhance student understanding.

Critical Media Literacy (Curriculum Connection)

Critical media literacy involves instructing students on how to view various media with a discriminating eye for elements such as messaging, bias, intent, reliability, misinformation, and persuasiveness (OpenAI, 2023). ChatDOC can assist in the teaching of critical media literacy by demonstrating to students how AI tools can be used as an opening for deeper thinking. For instance, teachers can use the generated responses as starting points for ‘make it better’ exercises: summaries can be improved, answers made more specific, vocabulary enriched, and questions refined. Citations and evidence can be ordered in terms of strongest to weakest, and additional resources from other sources can be gathered to strengthen or weaken the text’s viewpoint. When studying a written document, students can ask ChatDOC to identify the targeted audience or the author’s bias, and then identify their personal reaction to the generated response. For example, when asked the question “What audience is this text targeting?” about Margaret Laurence’s personal essay “Where the World Began” (1971), ChatDOC (2023) responded as follows:ponded as follows:

Based on the content of the document, it can be inferred that the text is targeting a Canadian audience. The author expresses a deep connection and love for a small prairie town where she grew up [2]. They reflect on the natural beauty of the land and the struggles faced by the townsfolk during times of drought and depression [2]. The author also mentions the oddities and eccentricities of the town and its people, highlighting the resilience and sense of community among the residents [2]. Furthermore, the author concludes by expressing the importance of valuing and recognizing the uniqueness and beauty of Canada [3]. These references to Canadian experiences and values suggest that the intended audience is Canadian.

After discussing the merits of the generated response, grade 12 ELA A30 students could be asked to personally respond to this answer by discussing their connection and love towards a home town (or their disconnect and dislike, if that suits), by writing a poem that reflects on the “natural beauty of the land”, or by creating a photo essay that expresses their own ideas on “valuing and recognizing the uniqueness and beauty of Canada”. These tasks would fulfill aspects of both “Comprehend and Respond” as well as “Compose and Create” curricular outcomes in the Ministry of Saskatchewan’s ELA 30 curriculum (2013). While ChatDOC can certainly be used for lower level thinking tasks like identifying, summarizing, and explaining, it can also serve as a seed for analysis, evaluation, and creativity.

Affordances and Constraints

The idea of ‘chatting’ with a document is both novel and intriguing. ChatDOC makes reading into a conversation between user and document, thereby transforming what once was considered to be a passive source of information into an interactive resource.

Outstanding features of ChatDOC include:

  • Free version, which allows the user two, 20 page .pdf files per day, and 20 questions per day, and a total of 20 files.
  • Paid version ($6/month), which allows the user 300, 500 page files (.pdf, .doc, .docx, .md, .epub, ocr pages) per month, 300 questions per day, and up to 30 files per collection
  • Ability to purchase API plans and connect to the Discord community
  • Instantly provides an abstract of the document
  • Maintains a file list of all previous file uploads and time stamped conversations, all of which can be exported
  • User maintains full ownership and control of all data
  • Provides users with a ChatDOC public wiki website that provides useful information about writing better prompts, diving deeper, making queries, and how other users are benefiting from ChatDOC
  • Provision of recommended prompts, or the opportunity to create a bank of 150 custom prompts. Recommended prompts can help the user learn how to ask better questions of the AI tool
  • Able to
    • ‘read’ text and tables
    • respond in 26 languages
    • turn a prompt response into a thread of its own
    • query across multiple documents
    • ‘like’ or ‘dislike’ a prompt response
    • click on a specific part of the document and ask questions pertaining only to that section of text

Potential drawbacks of ChatDOC include:

  • Free version limitations are quite restrictive
    • Limited file type uploading (.pdf only) for users accessing the free version
    • Total file and question limits (20 files and 200 questions) means that users will eventually need to purchase the pro version, or re-register with another email address.
    • Question limit of 20 per day may be too restrictive for users who struggle with prompting
  • No connection to additional web resources that could provide the user with further evidence
  • Sign in/registration required for use, even with the free version.
  • At this time, support for images is not provided.
  • The url link upload feature only works for files included on ChatDOC’s whitelist (a list of approved urls and websites). If the url link does not work, the user must first download the file. ChatDOC’s Whitelist can be accessed through https://chatdoc.com/URL_Whitelist.html.
  • Responses may include bias. Users must read provided information critically.

The Process

  1. Access www.chatdoc.com
  2. Click the “Get Started” button, located either at the top right corner of the screen, or directly below the first section of text.
  3. Sign up for the tool using an email address or Google account. Pay for the pro plan if desired.
  4. Experiment with the tool using the sample collection files found in the file list on the left side of the screen.
  5. Upload document from computer or enter in url link.
  6. Start chatting!
  7. Refer to the image below for the following:
    • Type in a question/prompt in the box located at the bottom right corner of the screen. If you do not know what to ask, click on the light bulb icon to view recommended prompts.
    • If you wish to read the AI’s responses in a language other than English, use the drop down menu labeled “Output in” under the prompt box. Access this menu by clicking the setting wheel icon.
  8. Once your response has been generated, citations for each answer will be displayed in bold blue font. Click on the blue text, and you will see that the textual evidence is highlighted on the document. At the bottom of the response, footnotes are provided that when clicked on will lead you to the page where the evidence is located.
  9. If you wish to continue drawing information from the response through more prompting, create a conversation thread by clicking the double conversation bubble icon under at the bottom right of the response text. If you decide to ask a new question, simply type in a new prompt!
  10. Have a question about a specific part of the document? Simply move your cursor over the text and watch for the blue conversation bubble icon to appear. When you hover your cursor over the icon, a text box that reads “Select, Click, Ask!” will appear. Click on the icon to ask a question directly related to that portion of the text.
  11. If you find one of the responses particularly notable, click the ‘thumbs up’ icon to ‘like’ it. The ‘thumbs down’ icon will disappear, leaving only the ‘thumbs up’ to serve as a visual reminder when you decide to review all of the responses. The same process can be completed for a response that you do not like.
  12. If you decide that a generated response needs to be discarded, you must discard the entire prompt by clicking the trashcan icon underneath the prompt.
  13. Continue to ask questions and generate responses until you have satisfied your curiosity and gained the knowledge you require.
  14. If you would like to export all or part of the conversation, click the download icon at the top right corner of the page.

Prompt Engineering

On its public wiki site, ChatDOC (n.d.) reminds its users that “To get the best out of ChatDOC, we suggest improving the prompts you use. The more precise your prompts, the better ChatDOC’s answers will be.” While you can ask the tool to provide basic information about the uploaded document, it is important to know that ChatDOC is capable of much more.

Here are some tips on how to effectively use ChatDOC:

  • Visit the ChatDOC user guide (access it through the file list) and read the sections titled “Getting Started” and “Writing Better Prompts”. This information will help you get the most out of your ChatDOC experience.
  • Use the recommended prompts provided by ChatDOC as jumping off points for additional queries.
  • Use role prompting to improve the AI’s accuracy when generating its response.
    • E.g. “You are a History teacher. How would you use this essay to teach a lesson about the Great Depression on the Canadian Prairies?”
  • Use sentence starters from the upper levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy to ask better questions.
  • Prompt ChatDOC to ask one critical question about the article. After it provides you with the question, resupply the question as a prompt.
  • Ask ChatDOC to provide lists using bullet points.
  • Ask ChatDOC to create exam questions.
    • E.g. “Please create five short answer questions and ten true/false questions based off of the content of this paper. Please indicate the answer for each question. Each answer for each question should be listed separately.
  • Upload your own work and ask ChatDOC to provide feedback.
  • Remember that the more specific the prompt, the more accurate the response.


As previously stated, your experience with ChatDOC relies on your ability to ask quality prompts. If you are using the free version of the tool, you will need to be especially precise with your queries. To learn how to improve your prompting skills, the following resources are recommended:

Informative presentation

Learn more about How to Use ChatDOC by clicking the image above.


ChatDOC. (n.d.). How to write better prompts. ChatDOC Public Wiki; Notion.                https://chatdoc.notion.site/How-to-Write-Better-Prompts-04836b4de98a4ebb9204310018b6cedd

ChatDOC. (2023). ChatDOC (Version 1.4.4). [Large language model]. https://chatdoc.com

Laurence, M. (1971). Where the World Began. http://csimmonds.pbworks.com/w/file/fetch/100778515/Where%20the%20world%20began2.pdf

OpenAI. (2023, August 23). ChatGPT. [Large language model]. https://chat.openai.com/chat

Saskatchewan Ministry of Education. (2013). Saskatchewan Curriculum English Language Arts 30 [Program of studies]. https://www.edonline.sk.ca/

Acknowledgement of AI Use

As transparency and recognition of outside sources is essential to the integrity of academic research, it is imperative to highlight the role of AI in the creation of “How to chat with a pdf resource using ChatDOC.” ChatGPT was used to brainstorm a list of important media literacy skills required for secondary education, provide information to enhance understanding of APIs in AI tools, and to test ChatGPT’s accuracy in referencing a chatbot response in APA formatting. Stable Diffusion was utilized to create the AI art featured at the front of the chapter. Lastly, ChatDOC was used to create examples of pdf ‘chatting’ with Margaret Laurence’s essay.


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AI-Enhanced Instructional Design Copyright © 2023 by Katrina Korchinski is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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