Enterprise Software

Use Google Forms to create a survey

A Google Form is a great way to gather information related to meetings or conferences. Andy Wolber explains how to make it work for you.

Google Forms provide a fast way to create an online survey, with responses collected in an online spreadsheet. Create your survey and invite respondents by email. People answer your questions from almost any web browser - including mobile smartphone and tablet browsers. You view each response in a single row of a spreadsheet, with each question shown in a column. And Google Forms is free.


A Google Form is a great way to gather information related to meetings or conferences, for example. Before a meeting, collect the names and contact information for attendees. The day of a meeting, survey people to streamline your lunch order. After the meeting, use a survey to get feedback on conference sessions and gather suggestions for improvement.

However, Google Forms is not right for every situation. As of October 2012, Forms lacks "skip logic" found in some online survey tools. "Skip logic" lets you build an "if - then" sequence: if a person responds "yes", then ask question A, otherwise ask question B. IF you need skip logic, THEN a Google Form is not the right tool.

You can create a Google Form quickly: Google released a "one click" Chrome Web Store app to create a Google Form on October 23, 2013. The release coincided with the launch of several one click Chrome Web Store apps to create Docs, Sheets and Slides. Chrome browser users can install these apps from their respective links in the Web Store. (If you're a Chrome OS user, you can simply wait a bit. The links should appear as part of a system update.)

Figure A

Google Forms in the Chrome Web Store

Create a simple survey form

To get started, let's assume you have four things: a Google account with Google Drive enabled, the Chrome browser, and the Google "one click" Forms web app installed. Follow the links to get each of these three items, if needed.

1. Click on the Forms web app icon

The Forms icon will be listed alongside your other Chrome web apps, which appear when you add a new tab.

Figure B

Google Forms web app icon

2. One click

The "one click" Forms web app opens a new browser tab, filled with a blank Form.

Figure C

New Google Form page

3. Survey setup

Give your survey a title, along with an explanatory sentence or two.

Three checkbox options display at the top of the survey:

  • Allow users to edit responses
  • Require sign-in to view this form
  • Automatically collect respondent's user name
I recommend you leave all three of these unchecked, unless you are certain that all of your respondents will have either Google or Google Apps accounts.

4. Add and edit questions

Next, add your questions. Each question has a Question Title and Help Text field. The Help Text field can be used to explain a ranking system (e.g., "Use 5 to indicate the best, 1 the worst.").

Each question has a checkbox option to "Make this a required question". Use this only if the information truly is essential. For example, you might require a person's name on a lunch menu survey.

Figure D

When you move the cursor over a question, editing controls appear. Click the pencil icon to edit.

Google Forms offers seven distinct question types:

  • Text, for short answers;
  • Paragraph text, for essay-length responses;
  • Multiple choice, where one response from many may be selected;
  • Check boxes, where multiple items may be selected;
  • Choose from a list (useful for demographic category questions, for example);
  • Scale, for ranking items from 0 to 10; and
  • Grid, for providing a response from 1 to 5.

If your survey is particularly long, add Section Headers or Page Breaks between questions. Insert these items by clicking on the "+Add Item" menu in the upper left at the top of the form.

Figure E

Divide long surveys into sections or pages

5. Edit the Survey Completion Confirmation

Customize the text that respondents will see after completing the survey. To do this, click on the "More actions" drop-down menu found in the upper right corner, then select "edit confirmation". Be sure to thank people for their response.

Figure F

Survey completion confirmation

6. Distribute the survey

Click "email this form" to distribute the survey.

Figure G

Email the link to the survey

Alternatively, you can distribute a link to the survey on Google+.

Figure H

Share a survey on Google+

7. View responses

Survey responses gather in a spreadsheet saved to your Google Drive. Open the spreadsheet to view the responses.

Figure I

View responses in your Google Drive spreadsheet

8. Edit the survey later

Should you need to edit the Google Form later, open the spreadsheet from your Google Drive. Click on the "Form" menu item, and choose "Edit Form". This will return you to the original screen used to create the survey.

Figure J

Edit your Form later

More uses for Google Forms

Google Forms can also be embedded, which means you can use a Google Form on your website. A website visitor could enter their name and information, which would go directly into the spreadsheet. Or use a form to conduct a survey after a Google+ Hangout or event, since a Google Form can be shared on Google+. Share the survey with the public or any of your Google+ circles. Google Forms makes online surveys simple.

Next week, we'll take a look at how to use a Google Form to create a "self-grading" quiz.

Also read:


Andy Wolber helps people understand and leverage technology for social impact. He resides in Ann Arbor, MI with his wife, Liz, and daughter, Katie.

Editor's Picks