External Reference Page

Slate delivers a ready to use recommendation process that allows an applicant to electronically send a recommendation form to a recommender to complete in Slate. If so desired, the Slate delivered recommendation form may be replaced with a custom recommendation form using the Form builder. This article provides a step by step guide on how to build a custom recommendation form to replace the Slate delivered recommendation form.

  Try a Slate Example

Use Briefcase to import our ready-made example Reference Page form. Be sure to open and re-save each form field to break any potential cache from the briefcase import.

Briefcase ID
Initial Configurations

Prior to configuring the custom recommendation, the appropriately scoped Fields, Materials, and Form must be created. 

Create Fields and Materials
  1. Select Database on the top navigation bar select Fields.
  2. Create all the necessary fields and prompts for each question on the custom recommendation form.
  3. Select Database on the top navigation bar and select Materials.
  4. Create any necessary materials that will be collected within the custom recommendation form.


Both Fields and Materials created for use on the custom recommendation form should have a scope of 'Reference.'
Create the Custom Form
  1. Select Forms on the top navigation bar.
  2. Select New Form.
  3. Remove the default fields of email address, first name, middle name, last name, birthdate and mailing address.
  4. Select Edit Properties and set the scope of the form to 'Reference Page.'
  5. Drag form elements and map to the previously created reference-scoped fields.


All fields on the form should be mapped to custom reference-scoped fields created in the Field tool.

  Best Practice

When adding fields which relate to the recommender information a student provides (first, last, title, etc) a best practice is to leave these fields as read-only.

Add the Custom Reference Form to the Application

Once the form has been completed - and all of the fields and materials mapped appropriately - complete the following steps to add the custom recommendation form to the application:

  1. Select Database on the navigation and select Application Editor.
  2. Select the appropriate /apply/ link for the round (or rounds) with which you want to associate this form. Select Recommendations.
  3. Click General Settings.
  4. Enter the following configuration:
    • Reference Page Form: Select the Custom Reference Form you have created.
    • Reference Page Form Type Override: These menu options will reflect the reference types that exist in your database—leave them alone for the time being. See the section Using Reference Types below in Optional Configurations for more information.
    • Enforce Round Deadline: Select Lockdown Recommendation Form After Round Deadline if you want to prevent recommenders from completing the form after the round deadline has passed. If they try to access the link after the deadline, they will receive a message informing them that it has expired.

        What if I extend the deadline for an individual application?

      Recommenders will be able to access the form through the link for as long as the round is open. This includes individual extensions.


  5. Click Save.

Once the custom recommendation form has been connected to the application, test the form:

  1. Using a test applicant record, submit a new recommendation request using an email address you have access to (different from the test applicant record email address).
  2. Fill out the recommendation form within the application
  3. Click Save.
  4. Re-open the form. If items are blank, check the field mappings on the form and verify that the Store Value settings on your fields are set correctly. If all data is saving correctly, your recommendation page construction is complete.

Optional Configurations
Display Questions Conditionally

Many partner institutions may wish to show reference questions conditionally. This can be achieved on the Reference Page form by doing the following:

  1. Select Database on the top navigation bar and select Slate Template Library.
  2. Add the Application References Query Base. Be sure to set a value for Read Permission.
  3. Add all necessary filters from the Slate Template Library as Local Filters from Query Custom Filters or Query Standard Filters sections.
  4. Use these local filters to control the conditional logic on the custom recommendation form.
Create Reference Types

Some institutions might wish to include different reference types (Counselor Recommendation, Academic Recommendation, Church Recommendation, etc.).  This can be achieved by using Custom Recommendation Form, along with additional prompt values for each Reference Type.  

  1. Select Database on the top navigation bar and select Prompts.
  2. Select Insert.
  3. Create new 'reference_type' prompts for each reference type and include a single capitalized letter for an Index Value. For example:

    Prompt Key = reference_type
    Prompt Value = Counselor
    Prompt Index Value = C

    Prompt Key = reference_type
    Prompt Value = Academic
    Prompt Index Value = A

  4. Edit the appropriate base.xml file Ref part ID <part id="ref"> located within the File Editor and insert a type ID for each reference type you wish to display making sure the ID matches the Index Value of the reference_type prompt. For example:
    • <type id="A">Academic Recommendation</type>
    • <type id="C">Counselor Recommendation</type>
  5. Go to the Custom Recommendation Form and insert a new Select List element. Map this element to "Reference - Type" and mark the field as Hidden. Adding this field will allow you to use form conditional logic to display specific questions based upon the reference type.


Do not use the Index Value of 'R' as this is reserved for the standard, built-in Recommendation type.

If you are uncomfortable editing the base.xml file, please ask for help by submitting a service desk request to the Applications group.


To set a minimum amount of reference types per applicant, a partner institution could then use a filter such as Recommendation Number by Status and Type within a Submission Requirement Hard Fail (e.g. all Transfers need at least two Academic Recommendations and at least one Counselor Recommendation).

Override Custom Reference Page Forms Based on Reference Type

You might want certain types of references to receive different forms altogether. Using the Reference Page Form Type Override setting in the Application Editor, you control who sees a reference-type-specific form page and who sees the default custom reference page form described earlier in this article. 

Start by creating as many new Reference Page forms as your particular process requires. Depending on your needs, you may only have one reference type with questions radically different from the rest. In this case, you can keep a single form that employs conditional logic based on the hidden Select List element for similar reference types (following the steps in the previous section Create Reference Types), and create a new form for the outlier.

To set up the override(s): 

  1. Select Database on the navigation and select Application Editor.
  2. Select the appropriate /apply/ link for the round (or rounds) with which you want to associate this form. Select Recommendations.
  3. Click Recommendation Form Settings.
  4. Enter the following configurations:
    • Reference Page Form: Select the Custom Reference Form to be used as the default. If no overriding form is selected for a given type, this is the form they will see. 
    • Reference Page Form Type Override: For each reference type in the list that you'd like to have its own form, select its corresponding form from the dropdown. Otherwise, leave the reference type set to Do not override custom reference page form. In the following example, only Academic reference types would see a form different from the default.


  5. Click Save.
Was this article helpful?
6 out of 9 found this helpful