What is HotDocs?

A document assembly product developed to help attorneys, banks, and corporations create automated document systems. Automated document systems are used to simplify the repetitive aspect of preparing legal documents and forms

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Introduction to Document Assembly

There are three kinds of HotDocs templates: document templates, form templates, and interview templates. Document templates create word processor document files (like wills or trusts). Assembled document templates are sent in your word processor. You can edit any section of the text. Form templates are created from static text and filled in using HotDocs Automator. Users cannot modify the underlying text, but can fill in and modify answers. Interview templates gather common information and save the answers for use in other documents but do not assemble a document themselves.

In your library, the template is type is represented by the icon next to the template name. The document template has a “piece of paper” icon with blue lines; the form template has a “piece of paper” icon with yellow rectangles; the third type of template, the Interview Template, uses an icon that looks like a card, with a blue line across the top.

How Templates Are Created

Document Template – A Word or WordPerfect file, which is turned into a template, and then automated to with HotDocs variables and Script to allow customized user entry. (The extensions will be .rtf, .wpt, or .dot.)

Form Template – A Word, WordPerfect, PDF, or other file format, that can be automated in HotDocs Automator. Non-pdf forms must first be printed with the HotDocs driver to create Envoy-based static content before they can be automated. (The extensions will be .hft, hpt.)

Interview Template – A component file designed to gather common and store the answers for future document assembly. Special instructions are given to control the order that questions are asked. There is no resulting document – they can only generate an answer file. (The extension is .cmp.)

Variable Types

There are 7 main types of variables:

  • Text
  • Number
  • Date
  • True/False
  • Multiple-choice
  • Computation
  • Dialog

Text Variable – You can enter any text string in this type of variable, including letters, numbers and symbols. Text variables include items such as names and address. Telephone numbers, SSNs, or other “numbers” which should not be used to add, subtract, multiply, etc. are created as text variables

Number Variable – Numbers can be formatted to restrict maximum or a minimum values, as currencies, or set to show a certain number of decimal places. Typically numbers are used to represent text that will be used in a calculation. Because social security and telephone numbers are never used in calculations and typically require a specific format, they are considered Text variables not numbers.

Date Variable – You can use the popup calendar to enter a date, or enter in as 14 Nov 2003, 11 14 2003, or November 14, 2003. Unless you change your options, it will require a 4-digit year.

True/False Variable – You can select from either check boxes or radio buttons. They can be grouped together, so they resemble a multiple choice, or can require a “Yes” or “No” answer.

Multiple Choice Variable – This type of variable allows you to select from a list of options, and often included an “Other” choice where you can enter in additional information. Depending on the variable, you can choose one, or multiple selections. This type of variable can appear as a drop down list [CLIENT STATE] or as a list, with [SALUTATION] or without [MARITAL STATUS] columns.

HINT: Single selection multiple-choice variables are radio (circle) buttons and multiple choice variables have square buttons.

Computation – You can use a Computation variable to calculate number, date, true/false, and text values based on answers a user enters. The computed value can then be merged into the assembled document. Computation variables can also be used to group several instructions or expressions for insertion into a template, which results in quicker assembly.

Dialog – By default, when HotDocs displays variables in a HotDocs interview, each variable is shown in a dialog by itself. While this approach may be sufficient for some, you may want to group related variables and present them in a custom dialog.

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