Best Practices when Entering Content into a Self-Study

When entering content into a self-study report in Watermark’s Planning and Self-Study platform, there are several functionalities you can utilize and best practices you can follow to ensure that your self-study report displays as intended. 

In this article, we will discuss how to effectively:

  • edit the formatting of the Narrative text
  • clear undesired formatting from copied text
  • standardize the font size throughout the Narrative
  • link to a URL from within the Narrative
  • insert a table into the Narrative
  • enable the PDF View option

The Text Editor

To locate the Text Editor, enter your self-study and select one of the standards on the left-hand side. Then select “Write Narrative” in the top-right. 

From here, you can bolden, italicize, or underline text, or change the font wherever necessary. The “Paragraph Format” dropdown will allow you to make a quick selection that will automatically alter the text to differentiate between heading and body text, if desired. There are also options to indent, change the alignment, create numbered or bulleted lists, insert links or images, or to insert a table

ParagraphFormat.pngThe Text Editor with the "Paragraph Format" function highlighted


The "Clear Formatting" option

It is always recommended to type the text directly into the narrative rather than to copy and paste from another document.

When you copy text from another document, the source material that you copied will very often bring with it formatting that affected how the copied text was displayed in its original program.

In other words, text that is written in a program like Microsoft Word will contain formatting that was applied by the program to ensure that it displays correctly. When we copy this text, some of that formatting may be copied along with the text. As this formatting was particular to Word, when the text is pasted into your Self-Study, the copied formatting can lead to unintended display issues. 

Therefore - if you do elect to copy and paste, we recommend that you always clear the formatting that might have been copied.

clear_formatting.pngNarrative showing text copied and pasted from Word, with the "Clear Formatting" icon highlighted


ClearedFormatting.pngNarrative showing text that has had its formatting removed by the "Clear Formatting" function


You may also find it helpful to use the "Clear Formatting" functionality in conjunction with the "Paragraph Format" function. In such a case where multiple font sizes are featured in the copied text, you may find it helpful to highlight all text that was pasted into the self-study, and then use the "Paragraph Format" option to set all text to a single size. 

Narrative that has been set to a single size with the "Paragraph Format" tool


Linking a URL in the Narrative

While writing your Narrative, you may find that you want to link a URL to the text itself. 

We would recommend that you try to keep the selection of text you are linking to relatively short - ideally no more than one or two words. This is because the Self-Study module can sometimes have difficulty deciphering links when the linked text spans multiple lines. 

To link to text, you would first highlight the word or section of text that you want to link to, and then select the Insert Link function.

linked_text.pngNarrative with text to be linked highlighted  

The text that you have linked to should now appear underlined and in the blue typical of a hyperlink. If you were to find that this was not the case, and that your text is not appearing in a way that obviously identified it as a hyperlink, it would most likely be due to the background formatting issues we discussed earlier. This would be another example of the importance of clearing your formatting. 


Inserting a Table

Tables are another element commonly added to Self-Study reports.

The Self-Study module contains an Insert Table functionality, and you would likely have the easiest time incorporating a table by building it directly in the self-study. However, we understand that very often these Tables may need to be brought in from an outside product. 

tables.pngHere, the user is selecting the size of Table to be added

We often find that clients attempt to paste into their self-study a table that exceeds the self-study's margins. This is because the margins that were allowed in the program the Table was created in exceed the margins allowed by Planning & Self Study. 

Planning & Self Study will attempt to fit the table into the report, but once you save your Narrative, you might find that the table has been shrunk in a way that is not ideal, or that parts of the table may have even been cut off. 

As an example, consider this sample Table that was created to be viewed online, and which fits neatly within the web browser in which it was first viewed:


However, when the table is copied and pasted into a self-study, we'll find that it now runs past the right margin:


If the self-study is now exported, the table will appear to run past it margins in the export as well.


There are a few recommendations on how to do this more effectively:

  • Use the Clear Formatting function after pasting
  • Highlight all text in the table, and use the Paragraph Format drop-down to set all to "Normal"

After following these steps, the Table should be better able to fit within the margins of the self-study report, and this should also be reflected in the export. 

However, the Table may still not be perfect, and it likely at this point would need to be cut down in scale to a size that would work a little better. This may entail deleting certain columns and/or rows:



Correct.pngWith formatting and several columns removed, the table now fits correctly on my page


The PDF View Toggle

We would also recommend that users toggle on the PDF View option, which allows narrative contributors to see how the PDF will appear before actually exporting it. This will prevent any confusion that might arise when the self-study is finally exported.

Self-Study Administrators can access this option by following the steps below:

  1. Enter the Self-Study module
  2. Enter the self-study in question
  3. Select "Settings" in the top-right
  4. Expand the Details Action Menu and select "Customize"
  5. In the top-left of the Customize Self-Study page, the PDF View option can be toggled on

When the toggle is enabled, the layout of the Narrative editor will be changed to match the layout of the PDF page. In this view, tables that have run past the PDFs margins will also be easier to review.

mceclip1.pngNote the narrower margins apparent after toggling on the PDF View option




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