AutoPlace is an advanced field action in DocuSign that adds fields near each occurrence of a given string in a template or document. This allows you to specify a string of characters in your document or template for automatic placement of the field. AutoPlace, also known as anchor tagging, is especially useful for documents that do not have a fixed layout or format.

For example you might have a standard legal agreement that varies in length due to the number of standard clauses that are included which might cause the document to run to 1, 2, 3 or more pages in length as a result. In this scenario you cannot specify fixed locations for your envelope tabs in advance as their location will depend on the content of the document. AutoPlace allows the tabs to move with the text of your final document.

One common approach to anchor tagging is to use special strings that don’t appear anywhere else in the document as the anchorString property for anchor tagging, then setting the color of these strings to match the document background, making them invisible to recipients. This enables you to easily attach tabs to many places in your documents without disrupting the signing experience for your recipients.

fmESignature Link (DocuSign Edition) includes an Auto Place Template example that shows you how to use AutoPlace tabs with your documents. The Auto Place Agreement Template uses the layout Customer Agreement Auto Place PDF which demonstrates the use of special text strings that are used as the guide for the AutoPlace tabs. If you have a look at this layout in Layout mode you will see these invisible text objects highlighted here:

These text objects have a white text colour set – the same colour as the layout background – so they are not visible when printed or saved to a PDF file. If we change the colour of these to red you can see the strings that we have set for these:

There is a setting option on the Template Tabs tab in the Template Details screen where you can specify the same strings to associate with these. If you click the gear icon to the right of a Template Tab you will get this popover:

Here you can specify the Anchor String and any X/Y offset values. As I have specified /SigName1/ as the Anchor String for this tab it will search the document for any matches for this and place the specified tab in that location. When all Auto Place Anchor Strings have been set the Auto Place Template Example will appear like this for the 2 recipients:

The DocuSign support site has a list of Auto Place matching and placement considerations that you should be aware of when defining your AutoPlace string, including:

  • Multiple words, including spaces are allowed. (e.g. “Enter Total Here”)
  • Alpha numeric and special characters are allowed. (e.g. “Sign123!”)
  • Matches are not case sensitive. Ex. The string “initial” matches “initial”, “Initial”, and “INITIAL”
  • Matches are made on whole string, including any punctuation – no partial matches or wildcards. (e.g. to match “Signature:”, string must include the colon as “signature:”
  • When a match is made, the field is placed at the first character in the AutoPlace string

We have a video demonstrating the AutoPlace Template in action on the fmESignature Link Videos page.