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

By Laurel Storm

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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."