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Chemistry essay with rich text

The Chemistry essay with rich text question type allows students to input text and chemistry formula within the same response. This allows students to describe chemistry concepts and display chemical formula or equations relevant to their work. This question is manually scored.

Chemical formula and equations can be inserted into the text via the add formula toolmath_tool.pngwhich will open the formula keypad when selected. Users can then edit the inserted formula by clicking on it to re-open the keypad. The keypad and the symbols available to the user can be configured by the author, see Keypad in the More Options section below.


Figure 1: Chemistry essay question example.

Create a question

To author an essay question, follow these steps:

  • Fill in the Compose Question area with your desired question or instructions to the student.
  • Underneath, you can control what formatting options the student will see in their toolbar. The icons highlighted in grey have been enabled, the white icons are disabled. Click on a white icon to enable it, and click on a grey icon to disable it. Use the DIV icons to place dividing lines between icons.


Figure 2: The full selection of essay formatting options available.

Note that the following formatting options are available to the student: bold, italic, underline, div, bulleted list, numbered list, remove all formatting, left align, centre align, right align, justify, quote, superscript, subscript, indent right, indent left, insert a horizontal divider, create a table, character map, add formula, add image, undo and redo.

  • Set the word limit (the maximum word count) for the essay - this can be between 1 and 10,000. You can also set whether the word limit is visible to the student at all times ("always visible"), only visible to the student when they have reached the limit ("on limit"), or totally hidden from the student ("off").
  • You can choose to enable or disable the word count from being visible to the student, using the show word count checkbox.

Screenshot 2024-03-12 at 11.56.50 AM.png

Figure 3: Word limit and word count controls.

More options

  • Max score: The highest score that can be awarded for the response. Needs to be configured on the page by your development team.
  • Minimum score if attempted: A value indicating how many attempt marks a student will receive for attempting the question.
  • Submit over limit: Enable this option if you want to allow the student to submit their essay, even if it is over the word limit.
  • Special characters: This field will become enabled when you have enabled the character map in the text formatting options above. What is entered in the field will override the default character map symbols (see example below).


Figure 4: Enter symbols in the special characters field to customize the character map. Enter each symbol one after the other, with no space or comma in between, as above. 


Figure 5: How the character map will appear to the student when symbols have been customized.

  • Min height and max-height: Set the minimum and maximum height of the essay box, in pixels.
  • Placeholder: Text entered in this field will appear as placeholder text in the essay box. It will disappear on type Note: this option is not recommended if accessibility is key to your product. Placeholder text breaks accessibility as the contrast ratio of the text does not meet standards.
  • Spellcheck and text correction: Check this box is unchecked, browser spellcheck will be disabled, along with auto-correct, auto-complete, and auto-capitalize on iOS devices. Note: This is a browser feature and may not always be available or supported.
  • Font size: Select from small, normal, large, extra-large, or huge for the font size. Note that this will affect the question and essay toolbar, but also the student input.


The insert formula toolmath_tool.pngis enabled by default in Chemistry essay with rich text. When selected by the user it will display the formula keypad allowing users to input formula within the text. The followings settings determine how the keypad will appear to the user.

  • Show keypad hints - Enable or disable hints on the keypad, such as keyboard shortcuts and symbol group titles that are shown on the top left corner of the keypad when hovering over a symbol group key. 
  • Enable horizontal keypad - this changes the keypad layout to a rectangular, 2 row, keypad. You can then customize this keypad by clicking on a button and either replacing it with another symbol or leaving it empty.
  • Number pad - Customize the number pad in this section; change the order of the buttons, or remove some buttons.
  • Symbols - Select what symbol groups will be shown to the student, or create custom symbol groups.
  • See Keypad customization documentation for further details on customizing the Keypad.

Text blocks

Use this option when you want to define a list of custom units (such as g, kg, cm, oz, etc.) that will not be rendered as LaTeX when entered by the student. See the dedicated Text Blocks article.



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