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Formats Overview

A format is a variable or field property you set to define the pattern HotDocs uses to format answers or other values in assembled documents; for example, you can use the 'LIKE THIS' text format to capitalize all letters in a name, the 'nine' number format to spell out a numeral, or the pattern 'dd/mm/yyyy' to format a date answer as text.

Overview

There are several types of formats: Text Formats, Number Formats, Date Formats, True/False Formats, and List Formats. With the exception of list formats, the type of format you can set applies to a corresponding type of variable (you can set a text format for a text variable, a number format for a Number variable, etc.). When you set the format property for a placeholder field, the format's pattern controls how an interview's answer is displayed in the assembled document, regardless of how the template user originally typed the answer. Although you most frequently use formats to format answers from HotDocs interviews, you can also use formats for text that comes from answer sources, computations, and other expressions. You can set a format in one of two ways; for a specific instance of a placeholder field in a template or as a default format for a component (and therefore applied to every instance where placeholder field references that component throughout the template). To assist you in using them, HotDocs provides a set of commonly used formats when you install Author (which you can manage in Workspace Explorer > Options > My Formats). Should you need a format not included in the commonly used formats, you can also create your own custom format.

HotDocs stores formats on your computer in the Windows Registry, not your component file. If you create any custom formats, HotDocs does not transfer them if you move your template to another computer. 

Common Tasks

Among others, formats enable you to perform the following common tasks:

Workflow

The first step in using formats is to create the variable you want to format (or locate the variable you want to format that you previously created). After creating the variable, the next step is to figure out if you want to format a single instance of the placeholder field that references the variable, or if you want to format every placeholder field that references that variable throughout the template. If you need to format a specific instance of a placeholder field, you can do so by selecting the placeholder field in the body of the template, and setting the format using the HotDocs Field Editor. If you need to format every instance of placeholder field throughout the template, you can do by setting a default format for the component in the Behavior tab of Component Studio.

Should you need to format an answer using a different pattern than those defined by the commonly used formats, you can create your own custom format. For example, you may need to do something irregular for a specific document such as capitalize every letter of just the last name. To achieve this you can type the pattern Like THIS into the Format Box in the Field Properties box of the HotDocs Field Editor. If you would like to add a custom format to your My Formats list (and be able to use it for other variables), you can right-click anywhere on the Format text box and select Add to My Formats.

You can preview a variable's formatting using the test functionality.

Default formats set for a variable will not format the variable's answer if the that variable is used in a computation or other expression. For example, if you create a computation where you want the result of two numbers added together (e.g. "purchase price" and "fees"), even though you set the default format to NINE for both variables, your computed value will not be formatted in all caps and spelled out in text. Instead, you need to format the placeholder field for the computation itself.

Text Formats

You can use text formats to format placeholder fields that reference Text variables, placeholder fields that reference a single select variable, and computations in which you are working with text. Specifically, you use text formats to define how text (such as names) should be formatted, regardless of how the template user typed the text in the interview. For example, you can use the text format Like This to enable a name typed using lower casing (such as marianne stevens) in an interview to display with the first letter of each word upper-cased in the assembled document (e.g. Marianne Stevens).

HotDocs Author includes the following commonly used text formats, to which you can add your own:

Text Format Template User's Answer How Answer is Formatted in Document
LIKE THIS Marianne Stevens MARIANNE STEVENS
Like This Marianne Stevens Marianne Stevens
Like this Marianne Stevens Marianne stevens
like this Marianne Stevens marianne stevens
Like a This our client, Marianne Stevens, is the Plaintiff in the case Our client, Marianne Stevens, is the Plaintiff in the case

Number Formats

You can use number formats to format placeholder fields that reference Number variables and computations in which you are working with numbers. Specifically, you use number formats to define how numbers should be formatted, regardless of how the template user typed the number in the interview. For example, you can use the number format nine to enable a number typed as a numeral (such as 9) in an interview to display as text in the assembled document (e.g. nine).

HotDocs Author includes the following commonly used number formats, to which you can add your own:

Number Format How Answer is Recorded During Interview How Answer is Formatted in Document
9999 1,234 1234
9,999 1,234 1,234
9,999.00 1234 1234.50 (requires decimal places property set to 2) 1,234.00 1,234.50
9.9 87.6 87.6
09 4 78 04 78
9 1/8 2.3 2 1/4
9th 23 23rd
nine 1,278 0 one thousand two hundred seventy-eight no
NINE 1,278 0 ONE THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED SEVENTY-EIGHT NO
ninth 782 seven hundred eighty-second
Nine Dollars and Twelve Cents 5.36 Five Dollars and Thirty-Six Cents

none

1,278 0 one thousand two hundred seventy-eight none

zero

1,278 0 one thousand two hundred seventy-eight zero
IX 1234 MCCXXXIV

Many of these formats can change depending on whether you assign decimal places to the answer. How many decimal places you assign also affects the outcome.

The number formats above reflect the fact that some countries (such as the United States and United Kingdom) use the short scale numbering system, while others (such as those in continental Europe) use the long scale numbering system.

Our current Spanish Language module uses long scale numbering. There is currently no way to change from long scale to short scale using a formatting property.

Date Formats

You can use date formats to format placeholder fields that reference Date variables. Specifically, you use date formats to define how calendar dates should be formatted, regardless of how the template user typed or selected the date in the interview. For example, you can use the date format Mmmm d, yyyy to enable a date typed nov 6 2000 in an interview to display as November 6, 2000 in the assembled document.

HotDocs Author includes the following commonly used date formats, to which you can add your own:

Date Format Template User's Answer How Answer is Formatted in Document
Mmmm d, yyyy nov 6, 2000 November 6, 2000
d Mmmm yyyy November 6, 2000 6 November 2000
DD MMM YYYY November 6, 2000 6 NOV 2000
m/d/yyyy November 6, 2000 11/6/2000
mm/dd/yyyy November 6, 2000 11/06/2000
dth day of Mmmm, yyyy November 6, 2000 6th day of November, 2000
Dy day of Mmmm, yyyy November 6, 2000 Sixth day of November, 2000
Mmmm Dy, Yr November 6, 2000 November Sixth, Two Thousand
Mmmm dth November 6, 2000 November 6th
Dddd November 6, 2000 Monday
Dddd, Mmmm d, yyyy November 6, 2000 Monday, November 6, 2000

If you need a date format other than the commonly used ones listed above, see Custom Date Formats.

True/False Formats

You can use True/False formats to format placeholder fields that reference True/False variables. Specifically, you can use true/false formats to define how the answers to yes or no questions should be formatted, even though the template user can only choose from yes or no as their answer in the interview. For example, you can enable a selection of Yes in an interview to display as true and No to display as false (or any other word or phrase you specify in a custom true/false format) in the assembled document.

HotDocs Author includes the following commonly used true/false formats, to which you can add your own:

True/False Format Template User's Answer How Answer is Formatted in Document
true/false Yes
No
true
false
yes/no Yes
No
yes
no

List Formats

You can use list formats to format placeholder fields that reference a Multi Select variable, a Table variable using an expression, or a list of answers a repeated dialog gathers in an interview. Specifically, you can use list formats to define how the answers to interview questions that enable you to provide a list of answers should be formatted, regardless of the formatting of the individual answers. For example, assume you have a question in an interview that presents a list of options your template user can choose from (e.g. a list of fruits) and your template user chooses three of their favorites. You can use the list format a, b, and c to enable a template user's selection (or entry) of apples bananas cherries in an interview to display as apples, bananas, and cherries in the assembled document.

HotDocs Author includes the following commonly used list formats, to which you can add your own:

List Format How TWO Answers are formatted in Document How THREE Answers are formatted in Document
a, b and c apples and bananas apples, bananas and cherries
a, b AND c apples AND bananas apples, bananas AND cherries
a, b, and c apples and bananas apples, bananas, and cherries
a, b or c apples or bananas apples, bananas or cherries
a, b, or c apples or bananas apples, bananas, or cherries
a; b; and c apples and bananas apples; bananas; and cherries
a, b apples, bananas apples, bananas, cherries

If you need to change the capitalization of a template user's answer, you can use a field-specific format and/or marker field. Individual answers in the list are placed into the assembled document as the template user types them during an interview or as you have otherwise specified for each variable.

Common Reference Topics

Among others, the following reference topic relates to this conceptual area: