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Reference Forms

Learn how Reference Forms can enhance a submitter's application.

Pam English avatar
Written by Pam English
Updated over a week ago

Reference Forms enable organizations to create custom recommendation forms that are placed within Initial Forms or Additional Forms. Submitters direct these forms to the referee of their choice by entering the referee's email into a reference form field.

Create a Reference Form

1. Go to Forms > Reference Forms. Click on +New Form.

2. Add form fields from the toolbox to your form. Be sure to include an upload field if you're requesting letters of reference:

3. You can Preview your form by clicking the button at the top right. Save your form when you're finished:

Add the Reference Form to an Initial, Request, or Additional Form

After the reference form has been created, it is ready to add to a form.

1. Open your Initial, Request, or Additional form. Drag the reference form field into the form:

2. In the Requests to Third Party field, pull in your reference form. Add a message to referees, if desired. Add instructions for submitters, if desired:

3. Preview and Save your Initial or Additional form.

What Does the Submitter See?

When a submitter opens your initial or additional form to fill out, they will see the reference form field that's been added:

The submitter adds the email address for their referee in the Reference Email Address field, along with an optional personal message. As noted in the form, sending the reference request does not submit the form they're working on, so they can make their reference request at any time by adding the email address and a personal message and then clicking Send Request Now.

If the submitter chooses to send the request before they submit the form, they'll see this in their saved draft:

Submitters can resend or cancel the request by clicking either option. If the draft has not yet been submitted and they cancel the request, they can edit the reference by entering a different email address. However, if the referee has submitted the reference request before the entire form is submitted, they will have to wait until it's been submitted. Then the organization must open both the reference request and submission for editing.

What Does the Referee Receive?

1. When the submitter sends a request for a reference, the referee receives an email from

2. When the referee clicks the Complete Form box, they will be taken to the reference form created by the organization.

3. The referee then fills in the fields, uploads a file if required, and submits it.

No confirmation email is generated when a reference form is submitted. A brief "Success" message appears on the referee's screen after they've submitted the reference form. The referee can double-check by following the link from the original email again: if their form was submitted, they will be taken to the completed form and they will no longer see the options to Save or Submit.

Referees can save the reference form and return to it later by returning to the original email request and clicking Complete Form again. If the submitter removes them as a reference before they submit it instead of the reference form, they will see this message:

If a referee has questions about the reference request they've received, this article can help. Tip: Include a link to the article in your reference form.

What Does the Organization See?

After the submission is received, different information will be available, depending on where the reference form is in the process.

If the submitter has sent the reference request, but the referee has not yet responded:

After the referee submits the form, the organization can see the date it was completed. To view the form's contents, open it with the down arrow:

Opening a Reference Form for Editing

If a submitter wants to change the reference request to go to a different referee:

If they have already submitted: They must request that the organization open the form for editing. If they have not yet submitted: They can cancel the request and enter a new reference.

Open a reference form for a submitter. When a submitter wants to update the email address they originally entered or change the referee altogether, open both the submission form AND the reference form for editing.

Open a reference form for a referee. When a referee contacts the organization to swap out a reference letter or otherwise correct their submitted reference form, open the reference form for editing. The referee will receive an email letting them know that the form has been opened for editing. When they click on View Form in the email, they will be taken to the opened form. They must resubmit it when they're done editing.

Email Notifications

These are the email notifications that are generated by using reference forms:

For Referees

  • Notification of a reference request

  • Notification when the reference form has been opened for editing

For Organizations

  • After submission, notification of a reference received

  • After opening a reference form for editing, notification that it's been closed

For Submitters

  • None

What to Expect in the Activity Feed

When a referee submits their completed reference form before the submission is made, there will be no notation in the Activity feed.

When a referee submits their completed reference form after the submission is made, there will be a notation in the Activity feed.

Tip: Hovering on "... hours ago" will show the date/time stamp:


How can my organization tell when a reference form has been submitted?

In the submission details, the reference form will show a message: "Form completed on [date]." Also, if the reference was received after the submission was made, the Activity feed will be noted. Hover on the "... hours ago" for the exact date/time stamp.

Where can my organization find the referee's email address?

Build a standard report, include one or more of the reference form fields, and the referees' email addresses will appear.

How can my organization resend a reference request?

Reference requests cannot be canceled or re-sent by the organization. The submitter must perform these actions.

How can my organization encourage early responses to reference requests?

Placing the reference form at the top (near the beginning) of your initial or additional form encourages the submitter to request the reference early in your process.

Collecting reference information from the submitter in the initial or additional form—separate from the reference form—is one way to make referee contact information available.

How can the submitter find out if a reference has been received?

The submitter can go into their Submittable account, open their submission, and under the Forms tab, scroll to the reference form. They will either see the date the reference request was sent or the date the reference form was completed (received).

What if the referee can't find their reference request email?

Ask the submitter to confirm that they sent the request to the correct email address. Ask the referee to safelist and to check their junk mail folders.

How can I delete a reference form?

The reference form field needs to be removed from the initial or additional form first; then the reference form can be deleted. Note: this is not recommended if removing the field will affect existing submissions.

Note: All information in the reference form can be reported in Advanced Reporting, a premium paid feature. Please contact account management to get this feature.

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