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Answers Overview

An Answer is a value HotDocs acquires in an interview and stores in an answer set (HotDocs does not store any computed values). For example, a template user types their first name into a text box during an interview which allows HotDocs to place that name into the answer set and to assemble a document.


Answers are the way HotDocs refers to the values you want to gather from your template users. Every template, then, can be thought of as a mechanism for gathering answers from your template users. Although you only deal directly with answers in Author when testing a template, you should create your templates with collecting answers in mind, understand how they relate to placeholder fields, and know how to store them for later use.

Common Tasks

Among others, the following common tasks are answer related:


You consider answers in Author when creating the components that you use to collect answers and when you test your template or test an individual component. Testing your template enables you to respond to questions you pose during the interview the same way your template users do. Using the test feature, you can preview the document, view a summary of answers, and save the answers (known collectively as an answer set) to an answer file (.anx) to be reused when testing other interviews (even those in different templates or workspaces). When you finish building your template, upload it to HotDocs Advance, and have template users provide answers to the interview questions, the answers are stored in HotDocs Advance as part of the work item.

For DOCX templates, you can access the test functionality in the HotDocs Author tab of the Word ribbon. For answer intakes and plain text templates, you can access the test functionality in HotDocs Composer.

Answers and Template Creation

You should first consider answers as you create placeholder fields and components. There are some basic considerations, such as the need to create a Text variable when you need to gather a text answer and if you need gather a date, you need to create a Date variable, etc. Beyond this, there are other times when knowing the type of answers you want to gather will help you create templates efficiently. For example, if you need to gather answers chosen from a list, you need to create a selection variable. If you need to compute an answer based on values your template users provide you need to use a computation. Considering whether or not your template user needs to be able to enter more than one answer to a single question (such as listing out the names of children) helps you know that you need to create a repeated dialog. If you identify the types of answers you need and understand what you need to do in HotDocs to gather those answers, you can create effective templates that enable you to assemble the documents you need.

Answers, Values, Variables, and Placeholder Fields - A Technical Perspective

To better understand answers (and HotDocs in general) it is useful to know the relationship between answers, variables, and placeholder fields. The relationship between answers and variables is a direct one for a number of reasons. For example, you may recall that a variable is a type of component used to present an interview question to a template user. In addition, a variable also defines the form of an answer (for example, a Text variable enables a template user to enter text values). Once the template user has provided a value, these values are stored as answers in the answer set.

An answer can exist for every variable and from a technical perspective, can be described as a name/value pair. For example, the variable name you enter when you create the variable, then, represents the name in the name/value pair. In turn, an answer provided by your template users during an interview represents the value. A Placeholder field, on the other hand, indicates the place in your template where HotDocs should insert the values provided by your template users.

Answer Intakes

As the name suggests, answer intakes are answer-focused and are a type of template designed solely for collecting answers from your template users. For example, you may use an answer intake to collect answers that determine which set of additional interviews and templates the template user needs to complete. You may also use an answer intake when you want to assemble a set of documents (such as a Word document, PDF, and Plain text document) all from the same interview. Answer intakes, like templates, store answers collected from template users in a HotDocs Advance work item.

Answer Sets

An answer set is a collection of related answers you gather using one or more interviews; an answer set is the only memory storage that HotDocs has (HotDocs does not store any computed values). HotDocs saves all answers a user provides during  an interview within an answer set that pertains to that interview session. HotDocs stores answer sets differently, depending on whether you are running a Test assembly on your local machine, or whether the interview is live on HotDocs Advance. Locally run Test assemblies enable you to store an answer set locally as an answer file. HotDocs Advance stores an answer set in the cloud as part of its work session data. In either case, you can reuse the answers from an answer set to provide answers to interviews for other templates.

Answer Files

An answer file contains answers HotDocs gathers from an interview that is created by using the Save Answers function during a test interview. The resulting answer file can then be reused to help you test other templates by using the Open Answers function in another test interview. The answer file is used for testing purposes and cannot be uploaded to Advance or otherwise used outside of testing. To illustrate, suppose you need to create a package of templates designed to assemble all of the documents you need to create for a new employee. All the documents require much of the same information, such as the employee's name, address, and start date. You can test each template without the need to re-enter information you already provided, saving you time and helping you build your package of templates more efficiently. HotDocs saves the answers in XML format.

Common Reference Topics

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