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Essay with Rich Text

This essay question allows learners to submit an essay response to a question, of up to 10,000 words. This question is not auto-scored, due to the subjective grading nature of essay questions.

Image showing the Essay with rich text question type

Figure 1: A sample essay question.

To author an essay question, follow these steps:

  • Fill in the Compose Question area with your desired question or instructions to the learner.
  • Underneath, you can control what formatting options the learner 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 options are available to be enabled for the learner: bold, italic, underline, bulleted list, numbered list, remove all formatting, code inline, code editor, left align, center align, right align, justify, quote, superscript, subscript, indent right, indent left, text direction left to right, text direction right to left, insert a horizontal rule, create a table, special character map, math character map, insert an 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 learner at all times ("always visible"), only visible to the learner when they have reached the limit ("on limit"), or totally hidden from the learner ("off").
  • You can choose to enable or disable the word count from being visible to the learner, using the show word count checkbox.


Figure 3: Word limit and word count controls.

Using the insert image option

To allow learners to insert images into their Essay with rich text response, follow these steps:

  • Enable the image option in the text formatting options.
  • When a learner clicks the image button in the toolbar, they will be prompted to select an image from their device.
  • Once they have selected an image, they will see a modal with a preview of the image.
  • The learner can zoom in to the image preview to review the image.
  • The learner can choose to replace the image or rotate it to the desired orientation.
  • The learner can choose the image display size they would like their image to be in their response. Options include small, medium, large, and full size. Note: A full-size version of their image will still be available to view. Large images will always fit the full width of the rich text response area.

Modal that appears for student with a preview of the selected image and options

Figure 4: The learner can choose to replace, rotate, and change the image display size before uploading their image to the essay response.

Editing an existing image in the response

Learners can make changes to an inserted image in their Essay with rich text response by following these steps:

  • Select the image in their response to access the image edit toolbar.
  • There are three options available, edit image, view image, and delete image.
  • Clicking the edit image button will open a modal where the learner can change the image display size.
  • Clicking the view image button will open a full-size version of the image, where the learner can zoom in or open the image in a new tab.

By selecting the image in the response, a second toolbar will open at the top of the response area with options.

Figure 5: The learner can edit the display size, view a full-size version of their image, and delete the image from the image edit toolbar options.

Reviewing the learners' submitted response

Once the response is submitted, a full-size version of an inserted image in the Essay with rich text response can be viewed by following these steps:

  • Select the image in the submitted response.
  • A full-size version of the image will open with the options to zoom in or open the image in a new tab.

Once the view image button is selected, a full size preview of the image opens in a dialog.

Figure 6: Once a response is submitted, a full-size version of the image can be viewed by clicking on the image in the response.

Accepted image file requirements and limitations

The following are the image requirements and limitations for inserting images into an Essay with rich-text response:

  • Image file type must be JPG, PNG, or GIF.
  • There is a maximum of 12 images that can be added to the response.
  • Images larger than 1MB or 4032px in size will be optimized for size when uploaded.
  • Uploading extremely large images may fail or cause performance issues.

Code formatting

By enabling the code formating options, learners can enter either inline or block (editor) code snippets. 


Figure 7: Displaying code within the essay text.

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 learner will receive for attempting the question.
  • Submit over limit: Enable this option if you want to allow the learner to submit their essay, even if it is over the word limit.
  • Special characters: This field will become enabled when you have enabled the special 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 8: Enter symbols in the special characters field to customize the special character map. Enter each symbol one after the other, with no space or comma in between, as above. 


Figure 9: How the character map will appear to the learner 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.
  • 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 learner input.
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