Understanding Documents
Updated over a week ago

Documents are electronic versions of paper based forms that you can create to help simplify data collection and reporting in Penelope. Most commonly, you may use Documents to track information about your clients, but you can also use them to record information about staff, funders, services, etc.

To get started, you create Document templates which you then make available to be completed for individuals, workers, etc. in specific areas of Penelope. For example, if you have a detailed Intake Form, you may assign it to be completed at the Case level so that workers can complete it with their clients immediately upon completing the Intake Wizard. You can also create Service or Program-specific Documents that only appear for applicable programs.

You can create as many Documents as you like (each containing as many questions as you like) and modify the Documents as your data collection needs evolve. The Documents can include as many questions as you like. You can set up your Document to include a variety of different questions whose answers can be captured as long-form text responses, selections from a drop-down list, multiple-choice responses, etc.

Permissions required to create Documents

Before going too much further, there are two prerequisites for creating Documents which are tied to your account permissions. All topics in the Documents section assume that you have both of the following permissions enabled for your Penelope account:

  • An Intake-Mgmt or Admin-Exec account type

  • Access to the Setup Sidebar and, specifically, the Document List link

Required Security Settings

Ensure that your Security Class has the Setup Security Settings > Allow access to Document Set Up setting enabled! For more information about security settings, please review the Penelope End User Security Configuration Guide.

The Document List

The Documents List page displays your agency’s existing Document templates.

Document List

View the Document List

  1. On your home page, navigate to Setup > Document List.

Filter the Document List

By default, the Document List displays all active Documents, but you use Search Criteria to view specific classes and/or include inactive Documents in the Results.

To modify the types of Documents you see in the Results:

  1. In the Search Criteria section, choose a specific Class or uncheck the Active Only checkbox.

  2. Click Go.

Document List Results showing all active and inactive Documents

Active and inactive Documents marked by a green or red indicator respectively.

Active and Inactive Document Example

Sample Documents

If you’re just in the beginning stages of implementing Penelope at your agency, you’ll instead find four sample Documents in this list (and if your agency has been using Penelope for awhile, chances are the Sample Documents are inactive).

Documents List showing Sample Documents

Each sample is designed to give you a feel for how the Document features work and to illustrate how to use these features in different ways.


Sample Documents are not designed to be clinical in nature, so we don’t recommend enabling them for use throughout Penelope.

Types of Documents

There are four different types of Documents (or classes) you can create: form, letter, outcomes assessment, and survey. The following table will help guide you in determine which type of Document is best suited for your needs.



Use cases


Forms are the most comprehensive and flexible Document type. Forms can include the features of Outcomes Assessments (i.e. scores, staging, etc.), but they aren't restricted to being filled out at the Service File or Service Event level. Forms cannot, however, be graphically represented like an Outcomes Assessment.

Risk assessments

Supplemental intake forms

Contact log

Service plan


A letter Document can be used to create letters to send to clients, funders, Blue Book entries, etc. or to attach to a client's record (for example, a signed consent form).

When creating your letter, you can include data fields and data lists to pre-populate the letter with data from the client's file. You can also include a series of questions for users to fill out and populate the variable components of the letter with. Finally, you can customize the formatting and layout of the letter.

Letters can be assigned to any Class so that they can be filled out at various levels in the system, but they cannot use pages, scored questions, or stages.

Appointment reminders

Referral letters

Consent forms

Outcomes Assessment

Outcomes Assessments are very similar to Forms but also allow you to track change over time and are only available at the Service File level.

Outcomes Assessments automatically include stages for tracking change over time; they include one initial and closing stage respectively and can have one or more progress stages.

You can view the progress of a client's responses in a graphical format within their Service File in the Assessments tab.

Treatment plans

Goal planning

Health assessments


Surveys are most useful for tracking change over time for simpler point-based questions (for example, satisfaction on a scale of 1-10). They automatically include stages, but they can only include one initial, progress, and close stage each. Surveys are mostly commonly used for Documents completed at the Individual Profile, Case, and Anonymous Service levels.

Client satisfaction surveys

Staff evaluations

Presentation surveys

Document Styles

Styles affect the appearance of your Document. When creating a Document template, you can customize the look and feel by choosing between the following styles: Boxed, Lined, Minimal, and Shaded. You can apply a single style to an entire Document, or you can mix and match styles throughout individual sections of the Document.


Document with Boxed Style


Document with Lined Style


Document with Minimal Style


Document with Shaded Style

Document Elements

Elements are the items that you use to populate and format your Document. There are five element types:


Questions are the main components of your Document. They can serve as a mechanism for collecting new information or pull information from other areas of Penelope into the Document through Data Lists and Data Field question types. There are many Question Types available for you to customize your Document.

Examples of Questions

Questions can be added to the Main Body, a Page, Sections, Groups, and Composite questions.


Sections are used as a mechanism for organizing similar questions together. For example, you may have several questions related to a client’s social history, their health history, and their current mental status that should be organized into individual sections.

Example of a Section with floating Sub-Sections

Sections can be added to the Main Body, a Page, and other Sections. You can add Groups, Composite Questions, other Sections, and Questions to a Section.


Groups are used to organize a series of questions together in a table-style format. For example, you may have a series of mental health questions that you’d like a client to rate on a scale of 1-5.

Example of a Group Question

Group questions can be added to the Main Body, a page, and sections. You can include one or a mix of different question types. Group questions that are composed only of number-based questions will automatically total for you in a completed Document.

Composite Questions

Composite Questions allow you to create a set of questions across the same horizontal line and allow the responder to answer the set of questions as many times as applicable. In a composite question, you create a key question (or first question) and the remaining question titles are shown as column headers. For example, you may have a series of questions related to goal planning for a client, and the client may have more than one goal to Document. A composite question will allow the client to respond to the questions as many times as need.

Example of a Composite Question

Composite questions can be added to the Main Body, a page, sections, and groups. You can include multiple question types (for example, text, drop-down, date, etc. questions).


Pages are used to separate your Document across multiple pages. Enabling pages means that users will be required to click “next” when filling out the Document to move on to the next page. This option is particularly useful for longer Documents as it allows the person completing the Document to save their work as they go automatically. Note: If you select the Use Pages option, you cannot deactivate it later.

Example of Pages

Did this answer your question?