This article is for the eSignature product, Papersign. For similar features in Paperform, see the Pre-filling and Answer Piping Guides.

Many documents will need to be sent out over and over again for agreements with different parties, with minimal changes between each version. In this guide, you will learn how to set up a document so that it can easily be used as a template for future agreements.

The guide will cover:

  • Setting up attributes for each signer.
  • Setting up document variables, which can be changed for each version of the agreement.
  • Connecting text fields to signer attributes, so that the fields are automatically pre-filled with each signer's information.
  • Dynamically "piping" attributes and variables onto the document as read-only text.

With these features configured, you will never have to edit the document line-by-line again. When you're ready to send it out to the next party, simply copy the original document, enter the new signer info and variables from the right-hand menu, and the entire document will be updated automatically—ready to send.

Setting documents up this way also prepares them for our Paperform to Papersign integration, which lets you fully automate document generation and signature requests based on web form submissions.

Signer attributes

What are signer attributes?

Information about your signers can be configured on the right side of the page while editing any document. Under "Signers," simply select a signer or add a new one to enter information about them.

Screenshot of the document editor, with the "Signers" panel highlighted on the right side of the screen.

Signer info can be dynamically added to the document in two ways:

  • You can pre-fill attributes into text fields using the connected attributes setting.
  • Attributes can be displayed on the document (read-only) using answer piping.

We'll cover both of these features later in the guide.

Adding new signer attributes

By default, signers have five attributes:

  • Name*
  • Email*
  • Job title
  • Company
  • Phone

Only the Name and Email attributes are required (*), which means that you must set a value for each of them before you can send the document out for signatures. The other three are totally optional. You can create additional signer attributes using the “Custom attributes” menu at the bottom of any signer’s settings.

Screenshot of an individual signer's settings, with the "Custom attributes" section highlighted

Each custom attribute has two settings:

  • Label: the attribute name, like “Mailing Address”
  • Value: the signer's info, like “123 Main St.”

You can add as many custom attributes as you like for each signer.

Screenshot of the editor, with a signer's settings open on the right. Several custom attributes have been added and filled in with information.

If you are setting up a document for the Paperform to Papersign integration, the value of each attribute will be replaced with an answer from Paperform (you can also set a static value in the integration settings). We recommend using clearly defined labels, and then entering test values for now so that you can see how it works.


Variables are similar to attributes, except that they are not associated with a specific signer. You can use them for any non-signer info that is unique to each agreement, such as the date that a service will be performed.

To get started, open the "Variables" menu on the right side of the editor, then click the "Add variable" button. Configure the variable just as you would a custom signer attribute.

Screenshot of the document editor, with focus on the expanded "Variables" menu to the right. Two examples are visible, with the names "Service Date" (value: "January 1st, 2024") and "Total Price" (value: "$5,000").

Variables can also be dynamically added to the document, but only using answer piping (read-only). This means that the value of variables cannot be changed by any signers.

If you would like to create a variable that can be edited by one of your signers, use a custom attribute for that signer instead. You can then connect a text field to the attribute.

Text fields and connected attributes

What are connected attributes?

In Papersign, text fields on a document can be directly connected to signer attributes.

Select the text field, and you'll see the "Connected attribute" options in the settings panel to the right.

Screenshot of a selected text field in the editor, with focus on "connected attribute" in the field's settings to the right.

When a text field is connected to a signer attribute, the value for that attribute will automatically pre-fill the field on the document.

Screenshot of a selected text field in the editor, with the "connected attribute" set to "Name." The signer's name appears in the text field.

Attributes can only be connected to text fields. Other field types (checkbox, dropdown, etc.) are not currently supported.

Fields that share a connected attribute

If you connect multiple fields to the same attribute, this offers an additional benefit: when the signer makes changes to one of those fields, all of the others that are connected to the same attribute will be updated automatically.

For example, let’s say that you send a signature request to your client, Sue Smith. Her name will need to appear in the document several times, so you add several text fields and connect each one with her Name attribute. You’ve set her name to “Sue Smith,” so the relevant document fields are filled with that value automatically.

When Sue signs the document, she decides to update the first field with her legal name, “Suzanne Smith.” After changing this only once, her name will continue to appear as “Suzanne Smith” for the remainder of the document.

Animated GIF of the signing flow. When the signer's name is changed in one part of the document, another name field is automatically updated to match.

Additionally, you don’t need to know the value of a certain attribute ahead of time in order to connect fields to it. For example, let’s say that Sue’s job title will also appear a few times on the contract, but you don’t actually know what her title is ahead of time. You can go ahead and connect those fields to the “Job Title” attribute anyway, but leave the attribute’s value blank. When Sue enters her job title the first time, her answer will automatically be filled into all of the other relevant fields on the document.

The "connected fields" shortcut

“Connected fields” are shortcuts that you can use to add text fields that are already connected to specific attributes. For example, the connected field labeled “Name” will add a text field that is automatically connected to the “Name” attribute. You can find connected fields at the bottom of the list when adding a new field to the document.

Screenshot of the mini-menu for adding new content, with focus on the "connected fields" section at the bottom of the list.

New signer attributes can also be configured via connected fields. When adding a field, type the name of a new signer attribute that you would like to create.

Screenshot of a new field with the text "Mailing Address" manually entered as a type. The single option is shown under "Connected Fields," "Create new custom field 'Mailing Address.'"

Select “Create new custom field,” and then select a signer. The custom attribute will be created for that signer automatically, and the new text field you’ve created will already be connected to it.

Answer piping

So far, we've gone over connecting fields to signer attributes, but what if you don't want your signers to make any changes? For a read-only option, you can "pipe" both attribute and variable values to the page. Answer piping is the only way to connect variables to your document.

If you are working with an uploaded PDF, first create a text block.

On an original/editable page, simply place the cursor wherever you would like to pipe the attribute.

Next, type two start curly braces {{, and you will see a list of variables and attributes appear. Select the one you would like to use, or begin typing it out as a shortcut.

Animated GIF of answer piping. In a Text Block, the user types "{{name", selects the "Name" attribute, then selects the signer "John Doe". The name "John Doe" appears in the text block.

Next steps

Reusing documents

Once your completed document has been configured with connected attributes and answer piping, you are ready to use it as a template for future contracts.

You may choose to keep a dedicated "template" version of each type of contract as a draft in your Papersign dashboard, and title it as such. Alternatively, you can use a previously sent document as your template. The important thing is that the original document is set up in such a way that all necessary changes can be made via signer attributes and variables.

Reusing documents in Papersign

When you're ready to send out the next agreement, start by making a copy of the original. You can do this in one of two ways:

  • Click the "New Document" button in the top-right corner of the Dashboard, then select "Copy an existing document."

    Screenshot of the top-right corner of the Papersign Dashboard, with focus on the "New Document" button.Screenshot of the top-right corner of the Papersign Dashboard, with focus on the "New Document" button.
  • Click the hamburger menu for the original document in the Dashboard and select "Make a copy."

    Screenshot of a list of documents in the Papersign Dashboard. The hamburger menu to the right of one of the documents is selected, with focus on the "Make a copy" option.

Update the document title and settings as needed, then continue to the editor. From here, you can update each signer's information and change the values for your variables.

Screenshot of the document editor, with focus on the "Signers" and "Variables" options in the right-side menu.

If everything is set up correctly, the answer piping and connected attributes should automatically pull in the new values, leaving the entire document updated and ready to send.

If this is your first time reusing a particular document, it's a good idea to carefully read through the updated version before sending it out, just to make sure that everything was set up to be piped and pre-filled correctly.

Integrating with Paperform

Paperform has a built-in integration with Papersign, which can trigger an automatic signature request in Papersign each time the Paperform web form is submitted. It works like this:

  1. A web form (Paperform) is submitted.
  2. A copy is made of the connected document (Papersign).
  3. The values of the signer attributes and variables in the Papersign document are replaced with mapped answers from the Paperform submission (you can also set static values, which will be the same for every submission).
  4. These new values are piped and pre-filled into the document according to your answer piping and text field settings.
  5. The document is immediately sent out to the first signer(s) for signatures.

Once your document template is ready in Papersign, follow our guide for setting up the integration in Paperform.