Text Entry Boxes: Back to Basics


Reasons for this article are multiple. I watched a basic tutorial yesterday that skips a very important step and includes a cumbersome unnecessary workflow. Lot of questions appear on social media including Adobe forums and eLearning community. Lot of my tutorials for Text Entry Boxes include example files published to SWF, and were written for older versions. Time to translate everything to the most recent version ( today) and for HTML output because there are minor differences. This first article is very basic, meant for newbies or for more advanced developers to refresh their memory.

Validated or Not

Text Entry Boxes are Interactive Objects. It may be a bit confusing since CP8 (change of UI) that you have to find them under the Text Button, not on the Interactions button. There are a couple of ways to recognize interactive objets:

  • Their timeline (when not selected) is green
  • In the Properties panel you have a tab Actions, allowing to trigger one or two actions
  • You can turn on Reporting in the Actions tab. A score attached to the objet (default = 1pt) can be added to the total quiz score.

Text Entry Boxes allow to let the learner enter text, which will be stored in an associated variable. This means that it the value can be used later on. It is one of the two interactive objects that will be automatically inserted when creating a software simultaion in Training or Assessment mode (the other object is the click box), whenever the learner is required to fill in a field. In Captivate tthe only other ways to allow learners to put in text is by using the Notes or the Scrolling Text Interactions.

Text Entry Boxes can be used in two ways:. 

Not Validated

This is the default setup, learner can enter whatever he wants,  any entry is considered to be correct. 

However you can restrain the characters that may be used by clicking the More Options button, and you can set the required number of characters as well. If you activate the option 'Auto Submit' it will be submitted when the lenght of the entry has been reached. You don't need the Submit button in that case, can drag it out to the scratch area. If you don't activate anything in More Options, all characters (numeric as well) will be accepted but that option will (strangely) not be checked.

Let us look at the Actions tab. As with quiz and Knowledge check slides, you have a Success action and - in case of limited attempts - a Last Attempt action. That is a bit confusing, because any answer is considered to be correct for a non-validated Text Entry Box.  and the cause for a question that pops up sometimes in the forums. There is only a Success event, which means the Success action will be done all the time. Look at an example from a recent question:

"I offer 3 attempts to fill in a TEB, but it is only possible to enter once, the playhead moves on after the first submission'. 

Default Success action is set to Continue for a TEB.  This action will be executed after the first attempt, playhead moves on indeed. To avoid that, you could change the Success action to 'No action'. Result: user will have to fill in the field three times, after the third submission the Last Attempt action will be done. Maybe not what you want?  An easy solution is to add a custom button 'Next' to move to the next slide for users who do not want to fill in the field 3 times.

There is no built-in functionality to check if anything has been typed in the field when the Submit button is clicked. You can use the workflow described in this post if you don't want to end up with an empty variable.

Option 'Reporting' will be dimmed for a non-validated TEB, which is logical. 

Sometimes ignored, but worth mentioning: if you expect to have a long text to be entered, please check the option 'Show Scrollbar'. You can see it activated in the most recent screenshot.

The shortcut key is Enter, which is pretty common to confirm an entry in a form field. You can change it to TAB if you have mulltiple TEB's on the slide. 


A Text Entry Box is validated when you check that option.  WIth the selected TEB a HUD will appear to enter the possible correct answers using the + button.  It is recommended to put the By default the option 'Case sensitive' is not checked, but I did so in this screenshot:

Tip: you can resize the TEB, it is not necessary to put the longest entry on top as is the case for FIB quest

Because you have defined correct answers, the TEB has now two events: the Success event, and the Failure event if you have a limited number of attempts. Success action is only happening if a correct answer is given, the Last Attempt action after the last attempt if that was still a failure. Be sure to turn on the Success and Failure captions. There is no Retry message as you can have for quiz slides, nor multiple Failure messages. I have a workaround for that, but that is outside of the scope of this basic post.

A validated TEB can be scored, the score can be added to the Quiz total (will appear in the Advanced Interaction panel) and be reported. As I mentioned before, when creating a Software Simulation in Training or Assessment mode, you will see that reporting is turned on automatically.

Typical use case for validated TEB's: use multiple TEB's to create a custom Fill-in-the-Blank question, if you want to have each blank field to be scored individually. That is not possible with the default FIB quiz slide.

Associated Variable

A Text Entry Box needs a, associated variable to be functional. That is the reason why a generic variable is created automatically. It has the same name as the Text Entry Box, which is a bit confusing because the general 'law' in Captivate is never to reuse a name for a second item. However there is a very easy workflow to create and associate immediately a user variable with a more significant name. No need at all to open the Variables dialog box and create that user variable (as you can see in other tutorials). Follow these steps, after having inserted the Text Entry Box (validated or not):

  1. Click the X button next to the Variable field which currently contains the generic variable (in the screenshot it is "Text_Entry_Box_3"
  2. Type a name for the user variable. It will be created and associated with the TEB. In the screenshot: "v_name"

You can verify (not necessary) in the Variables dialog box. The original variable with the generic name is still there, but as you can see in the following image, no longer in use. If you are in spring cleaning mode you can safely delete it.

Displaying Variable

This is not specific for a TEB variable, but for all variables. More details in this post.

Do not type in the variable in a text container with the surrounding $$ but use the X button in the Properties panel (consistent, also X button). Not only do you avoid typos that way (variables are case sensitive) but you can check the number of characters that will be displayed. Default length is 50, but that may be too low, in which case you have to edit this length.

Text wrapping

Often overlooked by developers: it is possible to have text wrapping in a TEB. You just have to activate the option 'Show Scrollbar' which is disabled by default:

4 responses
Is there another blog post where you explain the workaround for creating multiple failure messages when using a validated text entry box? This is precisely what I need to do and have hit a wall - using Captivate 2019.
Not exactly... have an idea how to do this. You may always hire me.
What does "shen" and "HUD" mean? Is there a way to make a Text entry box that requires the learner to enter something but not have that something be specified in the Correct entries option box? Can you have several text entry boxes on one slide that all have the same "submit" button once the learner has entered their text into the fields... Sort of like a pdf form?
'shen' was a typo, need to be 'when'. HUD is a Heads Up Display, the popup box where you can define correct answers for a validated TEB. Text Entry Box can be validated or not, is explained in this blog. Have several blog posts about multiple TEBs and one Submit button. Please use the tags on the site.