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Build dynamic forms and add data to emails with answer piping

Use Answer piping to quote a respondent’s answers in subsequent fields. This is a great way to personalize forms by addressing respondents by their name. It’s also useful for clarifying questions that build on previous answers.


Where to use answer piping

Within forms

Answers from previous fields can be quoted in the following parts of a form: 

  • Field labels

  • Section and field descriptions

  • Content fields


Fields containing piped answers must be placed after the field they are quoting from. 

In emails and internal comments

Response answers and response data can be quoted in both the subject and body of the following automated emails.

As well as internal comments in response workflows


In the example above, a workflow notification email sent to a respondent quotes one of the respondent's answers (their name), and form metadata (the receipt number).

What can be piped

Answer piping can quote respondent answers to the following form fields.

Basic fields Advanced fields Layout fields
Text  File Upload* Standard group*
Number Calculation Repeatable group*
Dropdown Signature* Office use only group*
Checkbox*  Location
Radio Button Payment
Date Radio Matrix*  
Email Checkbox Matrix*  


Fields marked with an asterix (*) can only be quoted in form content fields, submission confirmations, emails and internal comments.

Only number and calculation fields can be quoted from within repeatable groups. When these are quoted, the sum of all the repetitions of those fields will be used. (For example, the sum total of three listed expenses).

Notification and reminder emails and internal comments can also receive the following form data:

 Response details Workflow details* 
 Form name Submission date
 All data The current step
 Receipt number When the response entered the current step
 Response ID The step the response is transitioning from
 Response reference ID The step the response is transitioning to
 External system reference ID Notes to the respondent
 External system status Link to the review 
 Link to a response PDF  

Quoting the file upload field works a bit differently depending on where you pipe it to.  See using answer piping with file uploads for more information. 

Workflow details are only available for workflow notifications and reminders

How to pipe answers

  1. When entering text in a form field or email subject, type “{{“ to initiate answer piping.

    When entering text in the content field, section/field descriptions, or email bodies, you can also use the Pipe answer dropdown.
  2. Start typing the name of the field, or the information, you would like to quote from, and select it from the predictive dropdown that appears. The quoted field will become a descriptive label when you exit the field.

    If you’re using the Pipe answer dropdown in the text editor, select the field you’d like to quote from the dropdown.

  3. Enter default text in case an answer is not available (for example, when a respondent has skipped an answer or scanned ahead).
    To enter default text for a piped answer, type “ | “ after the target field within a piped answer's "{{" brackets.
    The format for default text is "{{piped answer|default text}}”.

Congratulations, you've piped an answer and you're an official form wizard!

Using answer piping with file uploads

When quoting the file upload field, the piped answer will appear as a file link (or a list of links, if respondents have uploaded multiple files) in:

To access linked files, email recipients must log into OpenForms. To allow access to uploaded files without a login (for external review, for example) see Let external reviewers access file uploads. 

In all other situations, a piped file upload field appears as a file name (or list of names if a respondent has uploaded multiple files). 

What's next


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