Google Forms

Jennifer Hamrick
Thursday 19 November 2015

Google Forms is a useful tool when trying to gather and analyse any type of response data. In this post, you will learn what Google Forms is as well as how to create, distribute, and collect data from your very own form.

What is Google Forms?

Google Forms is a Google Drive tool that allows users to create and distribute “forms” which can be used in a variety of ways such as surveys, polls or quizzes. Once created, these forms can be distributed to email recipients or embedded on websites and social media or blog posts. This data is then collected in Google Sheets (a tool similar to Microsoft Excel) where the form creator can view and analyse the responses.

How to create a form

Let’s start off with the basics. From Google Drive, select New > Google Forms. Alternatively, you can view forms you’ve already created by selecting My Drive > Google Forms. You will see this page:

Basic elements

Blank Form Creation

  • Form Settings – here you can choose whether your responders can see their progress at the bottom of the form page, whether responders can answer multiple times and whether your questions will be ordered or shuffled randomly every time.
  • Name your form by clicking on “Untitled form” at the top. Choose a name which encompasses the essence of your form.
  • Create a question:
    • Question Title – put in your question here (e.g. “Insert your name” or “What is your favourite ice cream flavour?”).
    • Help Text – if your question needs further explanation or instruction, put that in here.
    • Question Type – here you can choose from a list of option what type of format you want your responses (e.g. as text, multiple choice, or a dropdown list).
    • Advanced settings – each question type can be configured with advanced settings such as creating a minimum word count for text responses or shuffling the order on multiple choice answers.
    • Click “Done” when finished with your question. You can edit your questions by hovering your cursor over the question and clicking the Edit icon. You can also duplicate your question or delete it.
    • To add another question to your form, click “Add item” at the bottom of that section.
  • Confirmation page – here you can type in the message responders will see when they have completed the form. You can also choose whether to include a link to allow responders to answer the form again, whether to show the summary charts of the form results publicly and whether to allow responders to edit their responses after submitting.

Change theme

In the toolbar at the top, click on the “Change theme” tab to personalize the look of your form. This is a good place to preview what your form will look like to your responders. On the right-hand side of the page are a list of pre-designed themes you can choose from. These can be customised by clicking “Customize” under the theme box which allows you to choose font style, format, colour, size and orientation. You can also upload your own header images.

Customize Form Theme

Inserting media

To add images or video content to your form, click on the arrow icon next to “Add item” in the Edit Questions section.

  • Images – you can upload image files from your computer by selecting files manually or clicking on “Your albums”. Any image files stored on Google Drive can also be accessed here. Alternatively, you can take a photo if your computer or device is set up with a camera. You can also embed photos found online by inputting the URL address of the photo or by clicking “Search” to look up photos with the Google search engine.
  • Videos – you can embed YouTube videos by typing in the video name in the “Video search” bar or embed any online video by inputting the URL.

Adding contributors

In order to add contributors to your form, select File > Add Collaborators. There are two ways to add contributors:

  1. Share the link provided at the top via email, Google+, Facebook or Twitter.
  2. Enter the email address of the contributor under “Invite people”. Here you can choose whether or not to notify the contributor via email.

Under “Who has access” you can set who can edit or modify the form. Under “Owner settings” you can restrict editors’ abilities to add new contributors.

How to distribute a form

When you have completed your form and are ready to send it out to responders, click on “Send form” at the bottom of the page. A pop-up page will give you three distribution options:

  1. Sharable link – the link at the top (which can be shortened by ticking the “Short URL” box) can be embedded on webpages and blog posts to direct online users to your form.
  2. Social media – you can choose to share your form on Google+, Facebook and Twitter.
  3. Email – you can enter the email addresses of your responders to send your form to them via email. Here you can choose the subject line and message of the email.

If you still need to add contributors, you can click on the “Add collaborators” link at the bottom of the page. When you are ready, click “Done”.

To stop accepting responses, click Responses > Accepting responses. Click this again to reactivate responses.

How to collect and analyse form data

Perhaps the most useful function of Forms is that you can easily view responses as they come in and analyse the data using response summaries. This way you can quickly identify patterns or trends in the responses.

View responses

To view your responses, click on the “View responses” tab at the top of your form page. A pop-up page with ask you whether you want to gather the responses in a new spreadsheet or add it to an existing one. Adding it to an existing spreadsheet would be useful in instances where you wish to compare the results of multiple forms. Click “Create” to generate a spreadsheet (in Google Drive’s Sheets) of the responses gathered so far.

The first column is a timestamp of when the responder completed the form. The subsequent columns are the questions and their responses. Each row represents a single response.

You can view the summary of your responses (given in charts demonstrating the number and type of responses) in Sheets by selecting Form > Show summary of responses or in Forms by selecting Responses > Summary of responses.

Response summary example

Other resources

If you are still struggling with Google Forms, here are some useful online tutorials:

Google tutorial


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