Problem with Formatting Text Variable

I'm trying to use a text variable in the middle of a sentence but any formatting that I set for the text box does not hold. It reverts to a basic text format (looks like Articulate or Articulate Narrow) even though the text box properties indicate the text font should be Tahoma (or other type of font I select.)

Has anyone had this problem? I would love to use the text variable in this course but if it's a bug then I can hold off.

I've attached the .story file which shows the issue on the last layer of the 2nd slide. You have to preview the file in order to see the problem - it looks correct when viewing it in Storyline.

Thank you!


Stephanie Case

43 Replies
Laurie Kane

Yes, I've had a similar problem if I include variables in a text box any symbols I add do not render in preview or publish.

So something as simple as...

"%Age% ≥ 18 = Legal driving limit"

...cannot be written.

I've tried the suggested workarounds above but without success.

Would someone from Articulate like to comment, indicate when a fix is likely? This is a major headache for people like me who are doing courses involving basic math functions.

Peter Anderson

Hi Laurie,

Thanks for your input and feedback on this one. I'd recommend sharing it directly with our development team if you'd like to see this looked at in a future build. As far as when or if it will be worked in, I honestly can't say, but I know that the team sees every single feature request and they play a large part in determining what goes into each update. 

Tracy Parish

If I set my text box on the slide where the user's entry is to appear to the full size I have allotted for the entry; the text fits in although the font size selected does not register.

The top example shows how I initially set it up and the results that are achieve.  (the font is resized to fit the box created)

The bottom example shows the results after I took the same text box, added a bunch of "enters" after the text variable name.  (the font entry flows well, but the font size is slightly smaller than selected.

At least it's a bit of a work-around for now.

Brett Rockwood

Let me add something else that's somewhat related. In my experience if you try to add a text entry field and specify a font that the user doesn't have installed it will default to the Articulate fault I think. I've tried to use Myriad Pro and a couple of script type fonts in text entry screens and they work great when played back on my PC. But when sent to a colleague who doesn't have those fonts a substitution occurs. I think I can understand why that would be (the font can't be rendered if it doesn't exist on the system?) but it's still unfortunate.

Greg Cannon

I've had this problem too and it does seem pretty consistent...any caption containing a text reference seems to re-format all the text in the caption to something other that the default for the course which is a pretty major bug in my book! I'm using a name text variable to personalise my course and increase engagement for the learner but any benefit is lost when they see a highly conspicuous caption...

Ho hum...still love Storyline though : )

Ryan Martin

After further soul crushing publishing results... my offer is up to a dozen beers to the Articulate engineer or dev who fixes this.

My beautiful (and I mean beautiful) elearning project is in shambles because text variables crush the typography. You can forget about that paragraph spacing feature in SL2 when you use text variables.

THIS really needs to be fixed. Text variables are the most powerful feature in SL... But if they uglify our end product, their useless. 


Ashley Terwilliger-Pollard

Hi Ryan,

Thanks for reaching out here, and I know that this is something we've shared with our team and that you've also been in touch with our product development team through other avenues, so I'd recommend continuing to share your thoughts and experience so that they can see the difficulties you're running into here. 

Kelly  Anne

Thanks, hope they get to it soon, it's important. In the meantime, after fiddling with it today, I was able to get the formatting to stick using these steps:

1. Click into the variable box and type one character
2. Select and format the character so that is displays the way you want the variable result to look in the final presentation (bold, size, color, etc.)
3. Place your cursor just after the formatted character
4. Hit Enter. Your variable box should now have 2 lines
3.Use your mouse (don't backspace)  to place your cursor just after the character (on the first line) and hit the backspace key to delete the character. (The second empty line should remain in the box)
4. Save

I think the app needs the formatting assigned to a character before it will retain the formatting, if that makes sense. So, what I did was provide t a formatted character, add an extra line, then delete that character from the upper line.

Hope I got the steps right. I'm curious to see if this works for anyone else. At any rate, it worked for me while trying to change/retain the formatting for a numeric variable. Hope it helps someone else.

Kelly Anne

C. L. Norman

Unfortunately, Kelly Anne’s suggestion was of no help in my situation.  Take a look at the attached project.  The cup was a freeform figure that I added text to (which was a suggested workaround on a related thread).  The cup on the left has the typography as it should look (which I should mention was a nightmare to do).  The cup on the left looks perfect—the leading is nice and tight, and everything looks fairly centered.  But change that text to a text variable (in this case, %Cup_1%) and suddenly it scrambles up.  A pain to work with, but with some careful cursoring via the arrow keys, it’s workable.

But now the kicker—compare what you see in Storyline 2 with a slide preview, HTML output, HTML5 output, and Storyline Launcher (CD) output.  They’re all different.  (I know to expect some limitations with various output forms, but even the internal slide preview comes out wrong!)  The default value of the variable (“8¼”) should make both cups identical, but it doesn’t.  Even if this was a simple text box and not a freeform shape, these same issues would still occur.

I must agree with Ryan here—the typography tools have some serious issues that should be addressed.  Workarounds (such as multiple text boxes atop a shape) can serve in a pinch, but that’s a quick way to stifle creativity and turn a beautiful project into something mediocre.

Kelly Taylor

This one is still an issue guys, caught me out this week. Sadly Kelly-Annes workaround failed for me too.

Make sure you all submit it as a suggestion for improvement to the development team... they won't know how desperate we are for a fix if no one tells them. The more of us that bring it to their attention the more likely it is to get action.

Christoffer Bengt

I am having the exact same problem now. The work around is not working either, a fix for this 4 year old problem would be very much appreciated, since text readability is the most important part of our elearning.

My current semi work around is to have the %textvariable% in its own text box, so it doesnt ruin the styling for the rest of the text. This works sometimes when the variable can be kinda standalone. The variables text style is still horible, but at least it doesnt ruin the rest of the text.