How Do I Create a Free Online Survey Using Google Documents?

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Among the many tools offered included in Google Drive is Forms, a free online form editor that can be used to create surveys and share them with others. The results for each survey can then be viewed both as a summary and, for more detail, in a Google Sheets spreadsheet; you can also download them in the comma-separated value format.

Adding a second question to a survey in Google Forms.
(Image courtesy of Google.)
Step 1

Open the main Google Drive page, click "New," hover over "More" and select "Google Forms." This opens the form editor in a new browser tab.

Creating a new survey.
Image courtesy of Google.
Step 2

Click "Untitled Form" at the top of the window, type in a name or title for your survey and then click "OK." This name is the one that displays in the list of documents in Google Drive, but changing it also changes the survey title that is visible to others. You can, however, edit the latter independently.

Changing the name of the survey file in Drive.
Image courtesy of Google.
Step 3

Enable the check boxes in the "Form Settings" section to display a progress bar at the bottom of your survey, show the questions in a random order or restrict the survey to allow only one response per person. This last option requires all respondents to have a Google account.

General settings for the survey.
Image courtesy of Google.
Step 4

Click the name of your survey to enable the text field and change it to something different than the name appearing in the list of documents. This name will be visible to the survey responders.

Changing the survey title.
Image courtesy of Google.
Step 5

Click "Form Description" to enable the text field and add a description to your survey. This description will be visible to the survey responders.

Adding a description to the survey.
Image courtesy of Google.
Step 6

Fill in the form to create your first question. By default, the type of question is set to "Multiple Choice," but you can change it using the "Question Type" drop-down menu. Once you've set up the question the way you want it, click "Done" to save your changes and display the question as it will show to the survey respondents.

The form to add the first question to the survey.
Image courtesy of Google.
Step 7

Click "Add Item" and choose from the menu to continue building your survey. The first two menu columns contain basic and advanced question types; the "Layout" column contains structural elements.

The options in the "Add Item" menu.
Image courtesy of Google.
Step 8

Hover over an element you've added to your survey to display buttons you can use to edit, duplicate or delete that particular element. To rearrange elements, click and drag them in your desired order.

The buttons that show when you hover over a survey element.
Image courtesy of Google.
Step 9

Click "Change Theme" and select a theme from the list on the right to change the appearance of your survey. To create a custom theme, select a theme to start working from and then click the "Customize" button. Once you're done, click "Edit Questions" to return to the main survey editing screen.

Changing the appearance of the survey.
Image courtesy of Google.
Step 10

Click "Responses" and select "Choose Response Destination" to change where the survey responses are stored. By default, they're saved in a spreadsheet with the same name as the form; you can also save them as a new sheet in a spreadsheet of your choice or simply keep them in Google Forms. If you store responses in a spreadsheet, you'll be able to see each individual response; if you store them in Google Forms, you'll be able to see a summary of all responses, as well as download responses as a CSV file.

Selecting where survey responses are saved.
Image courtesy of Google.
Step 11

Adjust the settings in the last section of the form editor to your liking. You can customize the text displayed when people submit their answers, as well as choose whether the survey will show a link to take it again at the end, whether the results will be made public and whether respondents should be allowed to edit their answers after submitting.

Additional survey settings.
Image courtesy of Google.
Step 12

Click the "Send Form" button to display a link you can use to share the survey with others, as well as a field you can use to share the survey via email. Social media buttons are also available.

The options on the "Send Form" screen.
Image courtesy of Google.

Tips & Warnings

  • The form editor automatically saves your changes as you make them.
  • To disable the survey and stop accepting new responses, click "Responses" and select "Accepting Responses." When the survey is disabled, this menu entry changes to "Not Accepting Responses."

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