Creating an interactive glossary

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In the five years I’ve been working with Articulate  Studio and Storyline I’ve never implemented a glossary. Never. It’s not that the functionality isn’t good, it is, it’s simply a lot of work to fill a glossary and since none of my clients ever wanted to put time in writing down all the terms and definitions I’ve never used it.

Lately however, I’m getting a lot of questions when  I am training companies in Articulate Studio and Storyline about the glossary function. And although they love the default functionality and how easy it is to use, often, when they really want a glossary, they want more then just a term and definition. They want to add media to the definition but they also want jump into the glossary from the content when one of the glossary terms is on a page. Unfortunately this is just not possible with the default functionality.

Okay, you could add media to your glossary with Engage, but when using Studio13 and Storyline Upd4 you can no longer import Engage interactions. Also neither Studio nor Storyline allows you to jump to a specific step into an Engage interaction (and back).

Therefor, my answer to the glossary paradox has  always been:”Well, you can always build your own glossary in Storyline.”. Usually followed by disappointed looks, rolling eyes and big sighs. And I totally get that. When you’re just venturing into the world of Storyline building your own glossary might seem a daunting task.

In reality however, it’s really easy to do. Let’s take a look at the steps:

  1. Open a new project and go to your master slides
  2. Create a new slide (or use an existing) and start building your glossary content
  3. Add  an ‘A B C D E…’ object to navigate, add a ‘Terms’ content area and a ‘Definition’ content area. You might want to think ahead and add scroll boxes for both, you never know when you are doing a glossary with a gazillion items
  4. When you’re happy with what you’ve got exit the Slide Master and select your new layout for your content slide
  5. Add a slide layer you call DEFINITION. On this slide you add a Text box that serves as a title and will be used to add the glossary ‘term’ to. Also add a text box for the actual definition. Again, it would be smart to put it in a scroll box so your definition can be as extensive as it needs to be.
  6. Copy that slide 26 times, giving you 27 slides. Name them a-b-c to # for terms starting with numbers (e.g. 2Pac – an American rapper and actor)
  7. Now the boring part… On the first slide (A) add hotspots over the A-B-C etc and link them to their respective pages. Once you’ve done that you are going to copy all the hotspots (incl. the links) to all the other pages, linking them all together.

And that’s it. Now you can import your glossary into any Storyline project you’ve got, adjust the look and feel and voila! I like to call my glossary in a lightbox slide so I can jump straight into a specific letter page and if I want to go all out use a variable that tells me which layer to open on the glossary slide. That way the user doesn’t have to select the term again.

If you like it, please let me know in the comments!

Published by

Jeff Kortenbosch

Jeff is a performance-focused learning professional that believes in making learning relevant again!

18 thoughts on “Creating an interactive glossary”

  1. Thanks for the explanation and download Jeff. This is a fantastic resource and a significant time-saver. Storyline is incredibly flexible but it still requires a person with foresight, the willingness to take action and the generosity to share.

    1. Good morning and thanks for sharing. Is their a SL2 download available. This currently what I am using.

  2. Thank you for the instructions on creating the template! Have you played around with importing a text file of terms?

  3. Hi! I love this interactive Glossary. Your link for SL2 doesn’t seem to be working. I’m not sure if you are still able to reset it. Thank you in advance.

  4. Hi Jeff – I’ve just recently discovered your blog. Love it and thanks so much for sharing your wealth of knowledge!! I’m trying to access the SL1 story file, but the link isn’t working for me.

    1. Hi Heather, I’m sorry I missed this remark. I’ve just tested it and everything seems to be working just fine. Have you been able to get the download?

  5. Hi Jeff! Thanks for the tut and the vid… I downloaded the zip file and not seeing how it works…there doesn’t seem to be a story to import? Thanks, again!

    1. Hi Michael, sometimes a .story file act like a zip. Check the extension and change it back to .story. You should be able to import it without any problems.

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