Answer Overlay Overview

HotDocs Advance enables users to overlay answers from an existing work item over answers in the current opened interview.

For example, you overlay a client's on-boarding details onto a new work item to draft a will.


HotDocs interviews are designed to gather data to assemble documents. You may have data in one work item which you would like to reuse in another document, whilst maintaining the data in the original work item. You can overlay the answer set from the previous work item into your current interview to use its data. You can repeat this process to overlay the data from multiple work items.

Common Tasks

Among others, the answer overlay feature enables you to perform the following tasks:


You can only overlay answers if a Site Administrator has enabled this feature.

You open an interview for a work item and select the overlay feature. You then select an existing work item within the same work group to overlay. HotDocs Advance then overlays the answers from the selected work item onto the current work item, assuming variable names and structure match. You can only select answers from existing work items for which you have permissions. You can repeat the overlay to create a document with multiple layers of data. When you overlay the answer set, you preserve the link to the original work item. If you then update the original work item, you can choose to refresh that data in your new work item.


Overlaying Answers vs Copying a Work Item

You can copy a work item to use its answers in a new work item. However, copying a work item's data into your work item breaks the link with the existing work item; changes you make to the original work item are not reflected in the new work item. The overlay process preserves this link, enabling you to update the original work item and carry those changes into the overlaid layer by re-overlaying the work item's data. You can also repeat the overlay process to create a document based on multiple answer sets.

Overlay Work Item Requirements

Only interviews created using HotDocs Author templates (version 1.78 and later) support the answer overlay feature. You can overlay answers from any work item, including client interviews, from the same work group as the current opened interview and for which you have permissions. For Advance to overlay the answer set the variable names and structure must match. The overlay feature uses the answers from the last completed version of the work item to overlay.

Clients completing a client interview cannot overlay answers.

Common Reference Topics

Among others, the following reference topics may relate to this conceptual area: