HotDocs Author Documentation Types and Structure

Here at HotDocs, we understand that documentation plays a large role in helping you learn to use our software. Below is a brief overview of the documentation conventions we use.

You can access the documentation for HotDocs Author by clicking the Help button on the far right of the Author Workspace taskbar, Component Studio ribbon, the Author group on the Composer ribbon, or the Author group of HotDocs Author tab on the Word ribbon.

Help Interface

The layout of our documentation is designed to provide a great experience on mobile devices, tablets, and PCs. As such, the layout changes depending on screen size, yet provides a cohesive experience on all devices.

The documentation layout consists primarily of the table of contents and content pane.

Element What it Does
Left pane toolbar Visible only when window sizing permits. Enables you to switch between the table of contents, glossary and index.
Content pane toolbar Contains the following options:
  • Home – Opens the home page of the help file
  • Print – Opens the print dialog and enables you to print a copy of the current topic
  • Search – Enables you to search for specific content
Table of contents Enables you to navigate through our documentation using a collapsible tree structure. The table of contents features three main folders:

 A collapsible element, when clicked, reveals a set of documents grouped by like subject matter or functionality.

Content pane Displays the document title, topic type, and content. To improve scannability and readability, we follow certain documentation conventions.

Topic Types

Understanding our documentation structure can provide you with clues as to whether or not a document contains the type of content you are looking for.

Every page you come across in our documentation is one of three main types:

Topic Type What it Does
How To topic Provides step-by-step instructions for performing a particular task. A how to topic answers the question “How do I…?” You can recognize a how to topic by its title and contents. The title of a how to topic takes the form of a gerund (a verb with an “ing” ending), for example: Creating a DOCX template. The contents consist of numbered steps that guide you to complete the featured task.   The How To section of the Table of Contents contains subsections highlighting different groupings of like tasks. These subsections form a logical workflow for beginning in HotDocs Author by creating a basic template, through to uploading that template to HotDocs Advance. These subsections sometimes contain other subsections. As you delve deeper in, you encounter tasks guiding you through the more advanced features and functionality of HotDocs Author.
Concept topic Answers the questions, “What is_______?” and “Why is_______important?” You can recognize a conceptual topic by its title which takes the form of a noun phrase, for example: HotDocs Templates Overview. The word "overview" at the end of a title is reserved for concepts as well, generally those heading a related section of concepts.  
Reference topic Provides detailed facts and technical characteristics, usually presented in a table format like this one. A reference topic often answers the question “What does this part of the interface enable me to do?” Other reference topics are non-interface specific and can act as list of reminders, such as Formats, or quick reference guide for a single element in the HotDocs scripting language, such as the ASK instruction. Interface reference topics contain a section called "Common Tasks" where you can find a list of the most common actions you can perform in the interface.

Documentation Conventions

Understanding our documentation conventions can improve your ability to quickly scan a topic and find the information you need:

Element What it Does
Topic level tables of contents Enables you to quickly navigate to that part of the topic in the area you're interested in. 
Note Indicated by blue dots surrounding blue text, a Note highlights something perhaps not obvious in the interface but worth understanding before you continue the topic.
Caution Indicated by red dots surrounding red text, a Caution highlights something that could cause you to lose data.
Tip Indicated by green dots surrounding green text, a Tip alerts you to a "trick" or other information to helps you.
Link Displays as blue text, provides a navigation aid to another relevant topic. For example, the first link in a How To topic often points to a conceptual topic that provides further information about the area you're working in. The second link often points to a reference topic that conveys all the options available in the area you are working on.
Bold text Most often, indicates an interface element you can interact with by clicking, etc., for example: "Click OK." Also used to highlight a term at the top of a concept topic where it calls attention to the beginning of the definition for that term.
Italic text Indicates something you type, or acts as a placeholder for a label or title pertinent to your local context, for example: YourProjectTitle.cpd
Courier New font Indicates the text is a snippet of HotDocs script, for example:

IF DAYS FROM( Purchase Date, TODAY ) > 60

"Your account is [.b]past due[.be]."


"Your account is [.b]current[.be]. Thank you."


Title Case Enables you to easily read non-bolded interface element text otherwise less distinguishable in a sea of prose. This is most frequently encountered in the text near the beginning of a How To step, as in the second step of Creating a DOCX Template.