Search the OSCAR Documentation
< All Topics

Rich Text Letter Word Processor


Oscar provides a simple letter writer to provide neat and professional communications that can be populated automatically and get saved in a reusable format to the patients chart.  A tutorial on the original rich text letter writer has been compiled by Dr Klein.  While these instructions apply in part to any of the Rich Text Letter that have come in OSCAR since OSCAR v10.6, the instructions have been brought up to date to reflect all the features in version 20 of the Rich Text Letter (RTL)

The Rich Text Letter writer is copyright by Peter Hutten-Czapski 2007-2021 © under the GNU Lesser General Public License version 2.1

This document is copyright by Peter Hutten-Czapski 2010-2021 © under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License


Most versions of OSCAR and its variants have a version of the Rich Text Letter installed since OSCAR v10.6.  In some installations, the RTL may be incorporated as an archived eForm (aka deleted) from where they can be activated by un-archiving  (Administration > eForms > List of deleted eForms > Restore)

If you want the latest version of the Rich Text Letter (version 20 at this writing), you can install it in in any OSCAR 12.1 and newer.  See the instructions for this elsewhere on this website.

Launching Rich Text Letter

You can launch the RTL any way that you launch an eForm; e.g.:

  1. By typing “Rich” in the encounter’s everything box and selecting “Rich Text Letter”
  2. Click on the ‘+’ on the eForm Encounter interface
  3. Click on the ‘eForm’ link on the Master Demographic
  4. From the schedule screen if you have the RTL configured to have a link in your preferences

The Text Area

You can start using the RTL editor that you opened up above directly by typing into the (usually blank) text area.  On a basic level that is all you need to do.


The toolbar also has many of the typical word processing functions.  The following buttons are available and are present as a default in the following sequence.  Which buttons are present and in which order is easily configured.

First group:

  1. bold toggle of the selected text (strong) e.g. BOLD
  2. italic text toggle (emphasis) e.g. Italic
  3. underlined text toggle e.g. Underlined
  4. strike through text toggle e.g. Strike through
  5. subscript text toggle e.g. Subscript
  6. superscript text toggle e.g.  Superscript
  7. left justify text toggle
  8. center justify text
  9. fully justify text
  10. right justify text
  11. bulleted list
  12. ordered list ie numbered
  13. horizontal rule
  14. a button that undoes the last action(s)
  15. redo the last action(s)
  16. indent the text
  17. outdent the text
  18. selects all text
  19. remove font formatting from all selected text

Second group:

  1. insert a heading
  2. insert a table
  3. apply text colour (e.g. blue)
  4. highlight selection (e.g. yellow)
  5. insert an image (TIP use ${oscar_image_path} for local images)
  6. insert a link
  7. attach a file (needs OSCAR 19)
  8. insert a page break
  9. add the current time
  10. add the current date
  11. cut selected text
  12. copy selected text
  13. delete selected text
  14. help button
  15. template editor
  16. export

The selectors:

  1. Format selector for headings/paragraphs
  2. Font selector for common web font faces
  3. Font sizing selector.  The largest size is 7 which is about 36pt or 48px
  4. Template selector.  Here you select a template that fills with values from the OSCAR database based on the selected patient and current user.

Quick Text


Default blocks of text taken from the patient’s chart can be inserted with the Quick Text buttons.  Clicking a button will insert that particular block of text at the point selected in the writing pane.

Letterhead for example, will insert a formatted letterhead, similar to that of McMaster Hospital in the sample.  The information for the text is drawn from the database for that patient, physician and clinic.
The select box allows you to type a consultants name from your consultant database.  Select a consultant and Paste Selected will insert their contact details into the RTL (requires OSCAR 19)
The Referring Block pulls from the referring physician for that patient as entered in the master demographics.
Stamp pulls the stamp.png file (if any) in your eForm images.  In multi user clinics a stamps.js file will specify which stamps to use for which corresponding user.
Vitals provides a grid of common vital signs and their dates
Lab Grid does the same for common lab tests.  OSCAR must be configured to match incoming labs to specific measurements to show.
Attach File allows you to attach documents, labs, HRM documents and eForms to your RTL (requires OSCAR 19)


Templates allow form letters to be quickly loaded with the patient’s data for easy customization in conjunction with quick text and the toolbar functions.  The consult template is demonstrated in the writing pane of the above Quick Text illustration.  The back to work template is demonstrated below.

  1. First select the template
  2. The template with its placeholders gets loaded
  3. The letter writer prompts you for user defined placeholders.  In the illustration below its prompting for the serum rhubarb value.

Not shown is that when you supply the information requested, all the exhibited placeholders get converted into their respective values; e.g. in the above example, [serum rhubarb] would get converted to “default response”.

Predefined templates include:

  • consult
  • off work note
  • narcotic contract
  • missed appointment
  • custom template

All templates are accessible in Admin > Upload an Image >

New templates are written in HTML with any HTML text editor (e.g. Notepad++) and saved with the .rtf extension.  You then upload to your .rtf to the images folder.

The custom template is located in Admin > Upload an Image > custom.html or custom.rtl and gives you examples.

It can be customized along the directions printed on it to make ones own templates, and detailed on the last part of the tutorial.

Using Measurements in Placeholders

The normal placeholders are delimited by ##’s (eg. ##current_user_cpsid##). The list of standard placeholder names can be found on the eForm Magic page.

What about Measurements? Unfortunately, you can’t just use the standard oscarDB measurement tag (oscarDB=m$HT#value ) as a placeholder name.

In order to bring a measurement into the Rich Text Letter eform, you have to load them into temporary variables BEFORE your template is loaded.

You do this by adding a hidden field for each measurement in the RTL eForm code. This line:

<input type=”hidden” name=”EPW”   id=”EPW”  oscarDB=m$EPW#value>

is added to the ‘DoNotPrint’ section in the top of the <body> section. It creates a hidden field called EPW with the latest Epworth score.  You need to define all the measurements this way.

Once that is done, your RTL template placeholder name would be ##EPW##.

 Finishing it Off

The ^ Expand Toggle

Clicking on the Expand icon collapses the bottom icons and shows more of the page.  Re-clicking it will toggle the  bottom buttons / more condensed view


Finishing off the letter is the bottom bar that provides some additional controls.

  • The “HTML Source” allows you to view (and edit) the raw output of Letter
  • If you can’t get your output to look perfect, this is where you can tweak it
  • the “Use CSS” checkbox alters how the program encodes the page.


The signing box below the form will allow for you to sign by mouse or trackpad or other device and that will be transferred when saved into the insertion point in the Rich Text letter.  If you are not seeing the signing box, then you need to have your OSP adjust your file to turn that feature on (OSCAR 12.1 and newer)


Faxing is done from a picklist of providers.  Select the provider and click add provider and that provider will be added to the fax distribution list.  Alternately manually insert a fax number into the list.  If you do not see Faxing then you need to have your OSP adjust your file to turn that feature on (OSCAR 12.1 and newer)

When finished, click “Submit and Fax” and the signed letter will be delivered to your addressee(s)

Previous Report Tab
Next Search
Table of Contents