writing variables to text changes formatting

Aug 09, 2012

I'm capturing some text in text entry boxes and storing the text in variables.  When I write those variables to a text box later using %variablename%, it's reformatting the text box to use much smaller font.

Is this a known problem, or is there a way to fix it?  Thanks!

53 Replies
Brian Batt

Hi Heather,

The text should be displayed according to the format that you have for the variable reference.  So, make sure that your %variablename% text is formatted with the format that you want it to display at.  Here's a quick example:

In order to avoid confusion, just make sure that all of the text (including the percentage signs) is formatted the way that you want.  The variable reference will be formatted according to how the first percentage sign is formatted:

Heather Beaudoin

Brian, thanks for the explanation but mine isn't doing that. My text box is formatted to 18 pt and it's displaying at 12 pt font. The only difference I see in our examples are my text box has two variables in one box. 

%name% and %friend% want to see the movie.

I don't want them to be separate boxes since I don't know the length they might be. Should this make a difference? The text box is plenty big so it's not scaling down due to lack of space. 

Two other questions:

1. Can I force an initial caps on a variable?

2. I'm trying to set defaults for the variables after the first slide if the variables are still null. I tried setting them with the condition if equal to blank, but it's not working. 

Heather Beaudoin

OK, here's my .story file.  It's for a 2nd grader trying to learn how to sight read words.  This is my first complete Storyline project, so I'm using it to learn as many features as I can.  Next I'll be tackling several projects for work. 

Problems I'm having... I'd appreciate help on any or all of these:

  1. The text boxes in the "Sentence" areas of each word are much smaller than they are formatted in the .story file.  They display at 18pt when I don't use the variables, and then get much smaller when I use the variables.
  2. I'm trying to set the variables to default values if they are left blank on the first slide.  I'm trying to set them when the user clicks Let's Play if they are blank.  That's not working.  I'm assuming it has to do with the order of the Triggers and the Text Entry triggers, but I can't move my object triggers to the bottom.  I want it to happen on this slide because I might not always want the same slide to be the first one.
  3. I'm using a Pick One interaction for the words to require you to select one of the two check boxes.  Can I format the text of the Invalid Answer popup that appears?  Or better yet, any way to change that to just be a layer that appears on the slide?  I'd rather use the Prev & Next buttons instead of Submit, but I ran into some problems with the Next btn not working with the interaction.
  4. I'm also planning to use Pick One because I would like the option to randomize the questions (order the words appear).  I don't think I can reorder my Practice List slide to match, but I'd like to randomize the order the slides come through.  I don't know how to do that.
  5. On the Practice List, if you need to Practice a word, it's in blue. Click it, and it lightboxes the slide.
    -- Can you trigger clicking one of the check boxes to also close the lightbox, or do you have to click the red x?
    -- If you click I Read It in the lightbox, it sets a new variable (pracdone). When you return to the base slide, I want to change the state of the word (PracticeDone).  It doesn't.  If you click Previous and Next again, it reloads and shows the new state, but it won't do it right after you close the lightbox.

Thank you for looking!  It's been fun learning a new product.  I was amazed how quickly I got 90% of it to work on my own!

Brian Batt

Hi Heather,

I do see a slight difference between the typed in size and the variable reference size.  Just make the variable reference text slightly larger as a workaround for now.  I'll submit the issue to our dev team.

Regarding issue #2, this has to do with the order of your triggers.  Move the "Jump to next slide" trigger to the bottom of the list for Button 1 and that'll resolve the issue.

Regarding issue #3, to modify the Invalid Answer text, see this link:


Or you can create a custom one:


Regarding issue #4, click on the Edit Pick One button.  When the form loads, there's a section called Display and an option within that section for Shuffle.  Choose Answers and it should shuffle for you.  You may need to preview a few times before you see the answers shuffle as expected when there's not very many items.

Regarding issue #5, you can trigger a lightbox to close.  Select the checkbox, go to the trigger panel, choose the create a new trigger button.  Then, select Action:  Close Lightbox when User Clicks on that button.

When returning the base slide from the lightbox, you'll need to change the triggers that you currently have set.  Right now, it's set for When Timeline Starts.  When you close the Lightbox, the timeline isn't restarting.  Thus, changing the When option to "Variable changes" and selecting the variable that is changing should resolve that.  

Megan Creegan

An update to my last post. It appears to be happening in all text boxes. I created a new text box and manually typed in the text and added the text reference, but it still changed the font when published. So it appears that if there is a variable reference inside any text box, all the font changes when published. 

Ashley Terwilliger-Pollard

Thanks Megan for sharing the file. I can see from your file you're using a standard Articulate font, and yes the variable reference does make the text appear "crisper" - this was something community members utilized in Storyline 1 to ensure a crisp font as variable references are rendered a bit differently being able to insert a variable. If you want all the text to look like that, you could add in a variable reference (that's empty) at the end of a text box.  

My view of it is not as drastic as yours though - it's not changing overall font size, so I'm curious if your image was zoomed in or scaled differently? Below is an image, the top if your standard text with the variable reference and then I added a new text box with some of the same wording.  

Josh Kaye

I have been dealing with a similar issue to the ones mentioned here, in that when I use a variable, it changes the font of all text in that text box. 

Storyline automatically sets to Open Sans for me, but I am using Helvetica Neue for my project.

It displays fine in text boxes that contain no variable, but when a variable is part of the text it seems to revert back to Open Sans in preview or when published.

Can anyone help me with this?


Ashley Terwilliger-Pollard

Hi Josh,

Open Sans is the default font used in Storyline - and if you're using a text variable and a reference the font may change based on the system fonts of the device you're viewing the content on. If you're seeing this during Preview, I'd want to take a look at this - but I'm not certain I have helevtica neue on my system - do you see it with other, more standard fonts as well? 

Chris R

Ashley, I posted a new topic today on a related note, maybe the same root cause/bug? Any text string in which I'm referencing a variable for display purposes causes the entire text box or quizzing question or quiz answer to be in bold (I'm generally using Articulate font), while the font stylization button for bolding in the ribbon is definitely off. I too am on SL2. I've received several review comments on it. It is more apparent in my quizzing as my default (slide master) background is a simple rectangle with a light solid fill.

This discussion is closed. You can start a new discussion or contact Articulate Support.