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Notes provide further information and instruction when designing your survey. Notes can contain text, images, video, or audio.

Style notes

XLSForm supports the following limited subset of HTML syntax for styling notes in your form:

Format typeHTMLResult

Font color

<font color="red"></font>

Text in red


<a href=""></a>

Link to website



Text is bold



Text is in italics



First heading format



Second heading format



Text is centered



Text is indented blockquote



Text is underlined



Text is in typewrite font



Text is in strikethrough font

You can also use a hyperlink to provide links to telephone numbers and emails. The following example will display in your survey as a link that, when selected, will have the user's phone dial the number.

<a href="tel:555-555-5555">555-555-5555</a>

If the device is not a phone, the user will instead be prompted to select a telephone app they have installed. This is ideal for situations such as presenting emergency numbers.

Similarly, you can also link to an email address. This, for example, would open the device's chosen email client when selected and send an email to the address referenced.

<a href="">Email</a>

The same HTML syntax can also be applied to labels.

Visually combine notes

The XLSForm format only allows one of each type of media (image, video, or audio) to be added to a note question. To work around this limitation, subsequent notes will be visually merged together so that they appear as one note in your form. This means you can include multiple note fields one after another in your survey. When viewing the form, the notes will appear as a single note.

Notes in the feature service

Depending on how a note is configured in the XLSForm, the question behaves differently when the survey is published.

If a note is given a name or is provided a value through either a default value or calculation, a string field is created for the note. A user filling out your survey in the Survey123 field app cannot input anything directly into this field, but any values held in it will be submitted to the feature service.

If a note has no name, default value, or calculation (or it had a name value, but no default value or calculation, prior to Survey123 version 2.5), no field is generated for the note in the feature service. It acts only to store and display read-only text.

If a survey is republished that will add a field to the feature service, you will be warned that this change will add a field. If you want to use a note question to store values but don't want them submitted to the feature service, set bind::esriFieldType to null for that question, and no field will be created.


Note questions in surveys created in the Survey123 website are prefixed with generated_note_ before their name, to ensure the note doesn't get a field in the feature service. These prefixed field names should not be removed or renamed, and the question should not have bind::esriFieldType set to null, as this will cause a conflict in the website.