articulate storyline

As super as Articulate Storyline 2 is for eLearning development, there are a few things left to be desired. Closed captioning (CC) is one of those things, and being in an organization that takes accessibility seriously, there was a predicament on figuring out how to incorporate an intelligent CC mechanism. While I have seen a number of ways that somewhat address a solution, it was only recently when someone had shown me a really efficient way that can manage captioning, leaving only a few triggers to coordinate from a slide level.

This explainer is somewhat technical in nature, but if you consider yourself an intermediate-level Storyline Developer, you should be able to follow along without issue.
Variables to Create

ToggleCC True/False False This will allow the CC area to stay visible until the user turns the value back to False via a custom toggle you provide.
CC Text (leave blank) This will take in the text from slide-level triggers which contain the sentences from your narration script. Said triggers will be set to cue points to swap out sentences at different parts of the timeline.

Go to Your First Narrated Slide

Like most clients I’ve worked with, the title slide has some brief narration. Suppose you are working with a client whose introductory slide has this script: “Welcome to the third module in the New Hire series –  Recording Sales Leads. This will take about 15 minutes to complete. Click Next to continue.”

Based on the width of your project file, you figure you can fit the first sentence on the screen as your first caption, and then the second and third sentences as the second caption. You determined the second caption begins at the four-second mark in the audio clip.

Create A Trigger for Your First Caption


Your first trigger will need to be setup as seen here. Notice it is telling the text variable CC to take on the value you provided, which is the first sentence of your script. The When should always be set to the timeline’s start.

Picture2Your second caption (again which starts at the four-second mark), can be set at a cue point on the slide’s timeline.

You reference this cue point in your second trigger that brings in your second and third sentences. You have the magic happening on the front end now, but you need to make sure your captions will have somewhere to show on the back end.


Go to Your Slide Master

Your slide master will have the area to receive your triggers’ text values. Specifically, your layout you are using for your slides will need to contain that area, so select your layout from the list as seen here.


Create a layer for your layout, calling it whatever you feel fits. I named mine CC to keep it simple.


With your CC layer still selected, create a text object to facilitate your CC text variable. That’s where your caption text will populate. Notice the percentages signs around CC; those are necessary to make a valid variable reference.


Your CC layer now requires a trigger to tell ToggleCC to go from False to True when its timeline starts. Why you may ask? It stands to reason that the learner has turned on the CC feature for a reason, and we wouldn’t want him or her to have to keep toggling the feature on for every slide. A trigger on the base layer that you will create next will tell the layout to automatically show the CC layer if it finds that ToggleCC = True.


After you confirm your trigger, head back to your layout’s base layer to create the aforementioned trigger that tells the slide master to show the CC layer right away on the condition that ToggleCC = True.


Picture9We’ve yet to create an actual toggle for the learner to access the CC layer. While on the base layer, create something to your liking. In this example, I created my own page icon next to some other icons. Create a new trigger to show the CC layer when the user clicks on your custom icon.

Picture10Likewise, you will need to place a hotspot in the same place on your CC layer to both hide the CC layer and turn ToggleCC back to False. This will now prevent the CC caption area from showing up on other narrated slides automatically.

That’s It!

Having a slick and more traditional closed captioning solution is entirely possible, and it goes great with conversation-based slides as well. I like to use characters from the cutout people library at eLearning Brothers and allow triggers and states to help manage the conversation and syncing with the closed captioning. If you want to see the above steps and the conversation example in action, you may download the example Storyline 2 source file by clicking here.

stephen victorStephen Victor has been developing eLearning modules for 10 years for various companies and clients. He resides in Tampa, Florida.

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