Whether you’re trying to personalize your course, gather feedback within your course, or something else altogether, the data entry fields in Articulate Storyline are super-useful for taking in information from learners. The input you collect can then be stored with variables, displayed on slides or via references, or manipulated using triggers.

Before you give working with Storyline data entry fields a go, here are a few things you should know:

Types of Data Entry Fields

The two types of data entry fields available to you in Storyline are.

Text Entry Fields: You can enter both text and numbers in these fields, but mathematical calculations can’t be performed using text variables. When you insert a text entry field, an associated variable is automatically created called TextEntry. The second text entry field you insert will have an associated variable called TextEntry1, and so on. Any information typed into that text entry field will be stored into the text entry variable.

Numeric Fields: These fields are for numbers only, and won’t allow learners to type text into them. You can set triggers to do mathematical calculations only if you’re using the numeric variables; if it’s not a numeric variable, it doesn’t offer the operators to add, subtract, etc. Looking for tips on how to do some basic calculations with variables? Check out this article: How to Use Storyline Variables to Add Numbers.

To access these, click Insert on your Storyline ribbon and then the controls dropdown menu to view and insert a data entry field.

Edit the Variables

By default, your text entry variables will be called “TextEntry” and your numeric variables will be called “NumericEntry,” and they will be numbered sequentially in the order created.

These are not very meaningful names, so it’s a good idea to pop into the variables manager and rename your existing variables to have clear and descriptive names.

Click the icon with the X symbol (far right) to edit your variables.

Manage Groups of Variables

Another best practice is to organize your variables into groups in the variables manager. I like to name my groups of variables starting with the same word so I have an immediate hint as to where they belong in my course. So, for each slide or scene, I might use “Module1” in all of my variable names for that module, and “Module2” in all of my variables for that module, and so on. Here’s an example of how that might look:

Display a Reference

When we gather information through text or numeric data entry fields, we usually want to display it again to the user later on in the course. The way we display information that is stored in a variable is through what’s called a reference. The icon to insert a reference is located under the insert tab of the Storyline ribbon, beneath the text subcategory. You might notice that by default it is grayed out and disabled.

A reference is text, so it needs to be inserted into either a shape or a text box. What you can simply do is insert a text box, and when you’ve clicked inside the text box, the reference icon will become available. Clicking on the reference icon will open up a window listing all of the variables in your project—simply select the one you want to display. The name of the variable will appear in text between percent (%) symbols; this is how a reference looks in development mode. When you preview or publish the course, it simply shows the information stored in that variable.

Customize the Font (But Not Too Much!)

You can style the text that shows up in the text or numeric entry field, which is really cool. But be aware that if learners don’t have that specific font installed on their computer, they won’t see the text in that custom font—it will default to another font, like Articulate or Open Sans. So for your text and numeric entry fields, it’s a good idea to use basic fonts that most users have installed by default.

Check out this example below. Notice that the 6’s are in Chalkboard font. This is how it looks for me on my PC because I have the custom Chalkboard font installed. However, if you click on the link below to launch the demo and enter numbers into the numeric fields, you’ll see that it defaults to a basic system font … unless (unlikely scenario) you also have that custom Chalkboard font installed on your PC!

Style the Data Entry Box

In addition to the font inside the data entry boxes, you can style the text box itself. And this means you can do some really fun and funky stuff, like the transparent data entry box in this example:

Isn’t it fun getting to know data entry boxes? They are a powerful Storyline tool that can be used in lots of new and exciting ways. Do you have tips of your own for using data entry fields? Please share them in the comments below.

Want to try something you learned here, but don’t have Articulate software? Download a free trial, and come back to E-Learning Heroes regularly for more helpful advice on everything related to e-learning.

Eric P
Nicole Legault