How do I use the Text editor for questions in Assessment or Practice question activities?

  • Updated:

The Text editor is an advanced text-based editing tool that Buzz power users can utilize to:

Text editor overview

The question Text editor format consists of five basic parts for each question:

  1. Question type (required): Buzz offers nine question types.
  2. General and type-specific question properties: These manage things like display preferences, score, the height of entry fields, ordering preferences, etc.
  3. Question (required): The question prompt.
  4. Feedback blocks: Feedback can be created and designed to be returned for all answers, all correct answers, all incorrect answers, or even customized by Group and Condition.
  5. Type-specific answer options (required for most questions): These are the answer options learners can choose from or match or order, depending on the question type.
Building questions with the Text editor

In the following example:

  • MC: Indicates question type (Multiple choice) assigned as a property.
  • *c: Indicates the correct answer (c) with the asterisk (*).
Type: MC
Label: A
1) What is the capital of Sweden?
a. Oslo
b. Helsinki
*c. Stockholm

You can preview your questions by switching to the Visual editor for individual questions or the Preview for the entire assessment.


All questions, choices, match, and feedback bodies, except when used in Inline mode, can consist of rich formatted text. In many cases you can use simple text. All text segments may exist of multiple lines, which are interpreted as <br /> tags for plain text. You do not need to encode <, >, or & symbols when using plain text.

Indent subsequent lines with 3 leading spaces. For example the question:

1) You can create multi-line text segments.
   The characters <, >, and & do not need to be encoded.

Would generate this HTML:

<div>You can create multi-line text segments.<br />The characters &lt;, &gt;, and &amp; do not need to be encoded.</div>

Inline answer options

Multiple choice (MC), Multiple answer (MA), and Matching (MT) questions allow the Option:Inline property, meaning that placeholders for clickable answers or drag targets can be inserted into a sentence for learners to interact with. In the Text editor, you create these inline placeholders by entering four dashes inside brackets, [----], where you want them.

The following example has them placed as clickable words in a Multiple answer question:

Type: MA
Options: Inline, MaintainOrder
7) Select the transitive verbs. 
   Liv [----]  out of the car. 
   Ian [----]  over four hundred articles on the subject. 
   Christopher [----]  really well. 
   Martin [----]  about a lot of things. 
   Kate [----]  great gifts. 
a. fell
*b. has written
c. sings
*d. wondered
*e. gave. 

Feedback blocks

Feedback for various answer conditions can be added to any of the interactive question types. To add general question feedback to a question, start a new line immediately following the question prompt and enter the @ sign then bracket one of the following conditions for feedback:

  • @[Always]
  • @[When answer is correct]
  • @[When answer is incorrect]

Take a look at the feedback in this example:

Type: MA
1) Which are examples of cephalopods?
@[When answer is correct] Good work! Octopus, squid, and cuttlefish are all cephalopods.
@[When answer is incorrect] No. Octopus, squid, and cuttlefish are the cephalopods.
*a. Octopus
*b. Squid
*c. Cuttlefish
d. Crab

Custom feedback

You can create customized feedback conditions using additional variables and operators.

Boolean conditions determine which when the end-user reviews an answered question. An empty or omitted condition is logically equivalent to a true one. The condition uses the student answers and the attempt.

You can use the following  variables and the associated operators in the Condition:

Variable Description Example
score The scaled question score, which is a number between 0-1.  score>0.5
teacher A boolean value that evaluates to true if the current user has GradeExam privileges in the course. teacher
answer Answer for the question. The type of the answer varies with the question type and can either be a string, a number, or a choice ID.  answer="Sweden"
answer# For questions with more than one answer (Matching questions and Fill in the blank questions with multipe blanks), replace the # with a one-based number to indicate a specific answer.  answer1="3"
answercorrect# For questions with more than one answer (Matching questions and Fill in the blank questions with multipe blanks), replace the # with a one-based number to indicate a specific answer is correct (true) or not (false).


These operators can be used with some of the variables above:

Operator Description Applies to
= Equal Answer, Answer#, Answercorrect#, Score
<> Not equal Score
< Less than Score
<= Less than or equal to Score
> Greater than Score
>= Greater than or equal to Score


Format these variables and operators in the same way you format the feedback above: Start a new line immediately following the question prompt, enter the @ sign, and then bracket them:

  • @[answercorrect1=false ] Take a look at the first section of Unit 3.
  • @[score<=0.5 ] Take some time to review the activities in Unit 3. 

You can even group multiple sets of conditions to be applied to a question. To do that, simply create a group name and include it at the beginning of the brackets followed by a colon. Then add the conditions. A group name must start with a letter and can use only letters, numbers, and the underscore character.

  • @[LowScores: answercorrect1=false ] Take a look at the first section of Unit 3.
  • @[LowScores: score<=0.5 ] Take some time to review the activities in Unit 3. 

Note: When determining which feedback in a Group to return, Buzz reads the Conditions from top-to-bottom and applies the first-matched condition in each group.

Use the Text editor for individual questions

You can open the Text editor for individual questions from the Assessment or Practice questions activity editor by:

  1. Opening the Questions tab.
  2. Selecting the question you want to edit.
  3. Clicking the Text editor toggle.

Use the Text editor for all questions at once

You can open the Text editor for an entire Assessment or Practice questions activity by:

  1. Opening the Questions tab.
  2. Clicking the Edit all questions button, < >, above the list of questions.
  1. A separate editing window opens where you can edit every question in the activity.

Question types, properties, and operations

Question type codes

Buzz offers nine question types; each type has a specific interaction and specific answer details, and there are some properties that can only be applied to certain question types.

When creating a question in the Text editor, you enter the question type code property first, like this:

Type: MC

This table outlines the nine available question types and their corresponding codes. For examples, review the section below: Question type formatting.

Question type name  Question type code
Custom C
Essay E
File upload UP
Fill in the blank F
Matching MT
Multiple answer MA
Multiple choice MC
Ordering  O
Passage P

Question properties

General and type-specific question properties manage things like display preferences, the height of entry fields, ordering preferences, etc. All questions can have one or more properties in addition to their question type.

This table outlines all of the question properties that can be used.

Property name Value Applies to Description
Type Type code (see above) All Required property to define question type.
Additional types for fill in the blank (F) questions (add with a comma after the F).  F, Equivalent F Match equivalent function (a+b == b+a, a+a == 2a).

F, IgnoreCase F Ignore case when matching (Stockholm == stockholm). 

F, Match F Match against normalized expression tree (a+b == b+a, a+a !=2a). 

F, Number F Check answer within a numeric interval. 

F, RegEx F Apply regular expression match. 
BorderColor Hexadecimal color MA, Graphic Define the initial color of hot spot borders for MA, Graphic questions (default is black #000000).
BorderStyle Dashed, Dotted, or Solid MA, Graphic Define the initial style of hot spot borders for MA, Graphic questions (default is Dashed).
BorderWidth A number MA, Graphic Define the initial width of hot spot borders for MA, Graphic questions (default is 2).
Calculator Basic, Standard, and/or Scientific All  Add access to one or more calculators to the activity. A calculator icon appears in the toolbar, and learners can select the type they want if multiple types are allowed. 
Coords Percentages MA, Graphic; MT, Graphic Define the coordinates of the four sides of drop targets (MT) and hot spots (MA) expressed in percentages relative to the background image, from left to right and top to bottom.

Listed in this order: position from left, position from top, width, height.

For MA hot spots, include a shape specifier: Rect or Circle (see below).

Circle MA Define the shape of a hot spot as a circle in a MA, Graphic question (shape definition is required for each hot spot). 

Rect MA Define the shape of a hot spot as a rectangle in a MA, Graphic question (shape definition is required for each hot spot).
Custom URL or Path All Use custom rendering for the question. 
Figures A number F, Number The number of significant figures the test taker should use.
FileTypes File type extensions (without periods) separated by pipes (e.g., doc|pdf) UP Restrict the types of files that can be uploaded in file upload (UP) questions.
Groups A string  All Comma separated list of groups. 
Height A number E The approximate height in pixels for entry field. 
Image Resources path MA, MT The Resources path to the image uploaded for use as the background when Option: Graphic is used (required).
Label 1, A, a, or I MC, MA Label format for answer choices. Default uses no label. 
MaxFiles A number UP Set a maximum number of files that can be uploaded in file upload (UP) questions.
MaxWords A number  E Add a maximum word count to essay (E) questions. Learners are shown their word count and alerted if they haven’t exceeded the maximum, but they are allowed to submit, still.
Meta-NAME A string All Specify the value of the meta information NAME (Meta-author: John Smith specifies the author as John Smith).
MinWords A number E Add a minimum word count to essay (E) questions. Learners are shown their word count and alerted if they haven’t met the minimum, but they are allowed to submit, still.   
Objectives A string All Comma separated list of the objective IDs. The objective must be specified in the course manifest. 
Options Listed below Varies based on option Comma separated list of options as described below. 

DragAndDrop MT, O Make answer options draggable to targets. 

Graphic MA, MT Make question background a graphic (this requires using the Image property).

Horizontal O Arrange answer options horizontally in ordering questions. 

Inline MA, MC, MT Display choices inline as dropdown (or clickable for MA type) selections. 

MaintainOrder MA, MC, O Keep order of answer options as defined in the question. 

MaintainQuestionOrder P Maintains the author’s order of the questions associated with this Passage (P) question. 

Multiple F Fill-in-the-blank questions allows multiple correct answers.

RemoveUsedChoices MT Remove answers in matching (MT) questions once they’ve been used. 

ShowCorrect F Display correct answers for fill-in-the-blank question. 

Side P Display passage side-by-side with the assocated questions. 

Side, Single P Display only one associated question at a time for side-by-side passage question. 

Workspace All except E, P Display an area for learner to show their work. 
Passage HREF All except P Question uses the passage specified by HREF. 
Rubric HREF E Question uses the rubric (specified by HREF) for grading.
Score A number All Number of points for the question. Default uses the assessment default. 

Partial MA, MT, O Allow partial credit for question (as specified). 

Partial, Round MA, MT, O If partial credit is given, round down to the nearest whole number. 

ExtraCredit All Question score counts as extra credit.
SelectedColor Hexadecimal number MA, Graphic Defines the color of selected hot spot borders for MA, Graphic questions (default is black #000000).
SelectedStyle Dashed, Dotted, or Solid MA, Graphic
Defines the style of selected hot spot borders for MA, Graphic questions (default is Solid).
SelectedWidth A number MA, Graphic
Defines the width of selected hot spot borders for MA, Graphic questions (default is 2).
Var A range or a list All Variable declaration, defined as a range or as a list (specified below). 

NAME = START.END[,SETP] All Define a range variable with inclusive start and end values. The default for step is 1

[GROUP.]NAME = VALUE[,VALUE]+ All Define a list variable with optional group as a comma separated list. 

Supported math operations

Buzz's assessments allow authors to create math problems that Buzz solves when rendering content for learners, generating values in questions and answer options. These can be used in Fill in the Blank questions using the Math expression Answer types and with Assessment variables to test math concepts using different values for each student and each attempt.

The following math operations are supported in Buzz:

Operator Function Example
+ Addition or to indicate a positive number 1+2 or +5
- Subtraction or to indicate a negative number  1-2 or -5
* Multiplication 3*5
/ Division 3/4
Exponentiation x^2
pi The mathamatical constant pi (approximately equal to 3.14159) 2pi
e Scientific notation or the mathematical constant e (Euler’s number, approximately equal to 2.71828) 1.6e26 or e^5
|x| or abs(x) Absolute value |-5| = 5 or abs(-3) = 3
cos(x) Cosine using radians cos(pi/2) = 0
sin(x) Sine using radians sin(pi/2) = 1
tan(x) Tangent using radians tan(pi/4) = 1
sec(x) Secant using radians sec(0) = 1
csc(x) Cosecant using radians csc(pi/2) = 1
cot(x) Cotangent using radians cot(pi/2) = 0
asin(x) Arcsine using radians asin(1) = pi/2
acos(x) Arccosine using radians acos(0) = pi/2
atan(x) Arctangent using radians atan(1) = pi/4
sqrt(x) Square root  sqrt(49) = 7
n root of a number x^(1/3)
ln(x) Natural logarithm  ln(e) = 1
log(x) Logarithm base 10 log(10) = 1
log_(x)(y) Logarithm base x log_(2)(8) = 3
eval(x) Evaluate variable expression eval($a$ + $b$)
floor(x) Floor floor(2.9) = 2
ceil(x) Ceiling ceil(3.1) = 4

Question type formatting

Essay question properties

Essay questions ask students to answer with an essay. You can provide an example answer and feedback. Because Practice questions activities are meant to give students immediate feedback to respond to, essay questions are not available in them.

  • Type: E
  • You can specify the Height of the field displayed.
  • You can specify a Rubric file to give the learner guidance.
  • You can provide an example answer to aid the grader (entered after a. in this example).
Type: E
Height: 400
Rubric: Rubric1.xml
1) Retell the story of Tuffi the elephant.
a. On 21 July 1950 the circus director Franz Althoff had Tuffi, then 4 years old, take the Schwebebahn in Wuppertal, as a marketing gag. The elephant apparently did not enjoy the ride, trumpeted wildly and ran through the wagon, broke through a window and fell some 12 meters down into the Wupper river, suffering only minor injuries. A panic had broken out in the wagon and some passengers were injured.

Fill in the Blank question properties

Fill in the Blank questions ask students to provide a word or phrase to accurately complete a statement. You can provide multiple correct answers to account for possible variations and feedback.

  • Type: F
  • Create the blanks by adding 3 or more underscore characters ___. Use about as many characters as you expect the longest answer to be.
  • List the answers below (a. Stockholm). By default, the answers match the order of the blanks and are case-sensitive (keep reading to learn how to override this).
Type: F
1) The capital of Sweden, __________, is also known as Venice of the North.
a. Stockholm
  • You can specify a sub-type for the question to change how it is scored. This example uses the Match subtype to allow for ordering variations in the answer.
Type: F, Match
1) Factor out the expression `(a+b)^2` = ____________
a. a^2+2ab+b^2
  • Add the sub-type IgnoreCase if you don't want the answers to be case-sensitive.
  • Questions can contain multiple blanks, and a blank may have multiple correct answers. This example has two correct answers for blank a., Helsingfors and Helsinki.
  • By default, each blank is worth the same number of points, but you can set them up to Score differently. This example has a total Score: 10. It is set up to award:
    • [.6] points (.6 * 10=6) for answering blank a. correctly with the Swedish spelling, Helsingfors; OR [.5] points (.5 * 10=5) for answering blank a. correctly with the English spelling, Helsinki.
    • [.4] points (.4 * 10=4) for answering blank  b. correctly.
Type: F, IgnoreCase
Score: 10
Options: Multiple
1) ____________ is the capital of Finland, and ___________ is the capital of Sweden.
[.6]a. Helsingfors
[.5]   Helsinki
[.4]b. Stockholm

Matching question properties

Matching questions ask students to match items correctly.

  • Type: MT
  • By default, Buzz lists the items across from each other, and learners use a dropdown box next to the items on the left where they can choose the matches from the right.
  • You can include additional distractors by leaving the left side empty (see the = moo example).
Type: MT
1) Match the animals with their sounds.
a. dog = woof
b. cat = meow
c. bird = chirp
d. = moo
  • Use the Options: DragAndDrop to ask learners to click and drag words to the targets they match instead of using the dropdown box.
  • Use the Options: RemoveUsedChoices with DragAndDrop to eliminate draggable words as the learner matches them.
  • Use the Options: Graphic with DragAndDrop to give learners draggable images they can match to targets.
Type: MT
Options: DragAndDrop, RemoveUsedChoices, Graphic
Image: Assets/18-0438_MLK_timeline_4.png
Coords: (3.66,18.57,40.99,22.89) (55.33,11.18,43.04,28.29) (3.31,52.94,41.18,14.83) (56.21,59.88,41.33,14.37) (55.71,77.95,41.5,19.99) (3.26,69.21,41.33,25.96)
1) ​Match the events to the date they occurred. 
a. test = [Media:june25_1941_FDR.jpg, "", "", width:200px;]   
b. * = [Media:June10_1963_JFK.jpg, "", "", width:200px;]  
c. * = [Media:july_2_1964_johnson.jpg, "", "", width:200px;]  
d. * = [Media:sept_24_1965_johnson_.jpg, "", "", width:200px;]
e. * = [Media:dec_15_1967_johnson_.jpg, "", "", width:200px;]  
f. * = [Media:april_4_1964_mlk.jpg, "", "", width:200px;]
  • You can use the Options: DragAndDrop, Inline, MaintainOrder to display the answers as draggable items to inline targets box.
  • You can create the inline targets boxes inside the body of the question by typing [----]. In that mode, the left side of the match is the order of the answer.
Type: MT
Options: DragAndDrop, Inline, MaintainOrder
1) Indicate the correct animal sounds:
The dog [----] chased the cat [----] that chased the bird [----].
a. 1 = woof
b. 3 = chirp
c. 2 = meow
d. = moo

Multiple Answer question properties

Multiple Answer questions ask students to identify all correct answers from a list of possible answers.

  • Type: MA
  • Specify the correct choices by placing an asterisk * in front them.
  • This example uses  Label a to display the choices as a., b., c., etc (review the Label property in the table, above).
  • Multiple answer questions are allowed to have a Partial score.
Type: MA
Score: Partial
Label: a
1) What are the principle outcomes from the Treaty of Westphalia?
a. Germany became a Roman Catholic country
b. Sweden lost the territory of Norway
*c. The concept of sovereign states, became central to international law
*d. [HTML]The principle of <em>cuius regio, eius religio</em>[/HTML]
Type: MA
Options: Inline
1) Which are examples of cephalopods. [----] [----] 
*a. Octopus
*b. Squid
*c. Cuttlefish
d. Crab
Type: MA
Options: Graphic
Image: Assets/The-Ocean-July-2020-RR-2-scaled.png
Coords: (73.89,4.5,24.51,13.67) (4.25,45.89,23.47,11.7) circle(61.59,54.79,14.35,17.43) circle(1.92,76.75,28.77,21.25) rect(71.93,74.66,25.28,17.53) (0,35,24,7)
BorderColor: #FFFFFF
BorderWidth: 3
BorderStyle: dotted
SelectedColor: #00FF36
SelectedWidth: 5
1) Select all of the sea creatures that create their own light source.
a. Common dolphin
*b. Lantern shark
c. Comb jelly
*d. Angler fish
e. Vampire squid

Multiple Choice question properties

Multiple Choice questions ask students to identify the single correct answer from a list of possible answers. They are the most commonly used question types.

  • Type: MC
  • Use an * to indicate the correct answer.
  • Label: defines how the answer options are listed (with numbers, lowercase letters, uppercase letters, or Roman numerals). This example uses lowercase letters, a ( (review the Label property in the table, above).
  • The x. in front of the last choice indicates that the listed choice should always appear in that position. You can fix all choices in the listed positions by using the Options: MaintainOrder.
Type: MC
Label: a
1) What is the capital of Sweden?
*a. Stockholm
b. Oslo
c. Helsinki
x. None of the above
  • Create choice-specific feedback by using @ on the row below the choice.
  • This example displays the choices as a dropdown box by using the Options: Inline option and placing the box inside the question body with [----].
Type: MC
Options: Inline
1) The capital of Sweden is [----].
*a. Stockholm
@ That's correct.
b. Oslo
@ Oslo is the capital of Norway.
c. Helsinki
@ Helsinki is the capital of Finland.
x. None of the above

Ordering question properties

Ordering questions ask students to put items in the correct order.

  • To define the correct position of each answer in an ordering question, enter the position number and an underscore in front of the answer label (e.g., 1_, 2_, 3_,)
Type: O
Options: MaintainOrder
1) Sort these US Presidents from earliest to latest
5_a. Barack Obama
3_b. Bill Clinton
4_c. George W. Bush
2_d. George H. W. Bush
1_e. Ronald Reagan
  • Use the Options: DragAndDrop to create a question where learners can drag text and/or media into the correct order, vertically.
  • Use the Options: Horizontal to orient the options horizontally.
Type: O
Options: DragAndDrop, Horizontal
Label: a
3) Put these US presidents in order of their presidency's (oldest at the top).
a. [Media:Screen Shot 2021-11-11 at 2.36.13 PM.png, "", "", width:100px;]
b. [Media:Screen Shot 2021-11-11 at 2.36.31 PM.png, "", "", width:100px;]
c. [Media:Screen Shot 2021-11-11 at 2.36.24 PM.png, "", "", width:100px;]
d. [Media:Screen Shot 2021-11-11 at 2.36.47 PM.png, "", "", width:100px;]
[a, b, c, d]

Passage properties

Passage questions are not an interactive question template. You can use this to provide a passage of text and ask students to refer to it in order to answer other questions in the assessment or homework activity. You can provide a single passage for the activity and/or assign a passage to specific questions.

They do not have a point value, interaction, answer, or feedback.

  • Use the Options: Side to display the passage to the side of the question.
  • Use the Options: Single to display one associated question at a time.
Type: P
Options: Side, Single
1). In the year 1878 I took my degree of Doctor of Medicine of the University of London, and proceeded to Netley to go through the course prescribed for surgeons in the Army. Having completed my studies there, I was duly attached to the Fifth Northumberland Fusiliers as assistant surgeon. The regiment was stationed in India at the time, and before I could join it, the second Afghan war had broken out. On landing at Bombay, I learned that my corps had advanced through the passes, and was already deep in the enemy's country. I followed, however, with many other officers who were in the same situation as myself, and succeeded in reaching Candahar in safety, where I found my regiment, and at once entered upon my new duties...

Custom question properties

Create questions that don’t fit any of the predefined types. These can range in complexity from simple, formatting overrides of standard questions to complete, custom-question rendering and grading systems hosted on external servers.

  • Type: C
  • Use variables (Var) and add question data as you want.
Type: C
Custom: http://mywebserver/chess/question
Var: row = 0..7
Var: col = 0..7
Var: figure = queen,rook,bishop,knight
1) Indicate all valid locations that this piece can move to.
a. {Color1: Black, Color2: Red }

Have a question or feedback? Let us know over in Discussions!