Are you just getting started with Google Forms? Never heard of it before? Either way, here are some tips to help you get started with Google’s powerful forms tool and start creating surveys and online forms for free.
What the hell is Google Forms?
If you already know Google Forms, feel free to move on. Otherwise, here is the crash course. We’ll cover the basics and let you know what Google Forms is and how you can start using it right away.
Google Forms is a free search tool that is part of G Suite – the complete suite of Google offices (although some people see all this as Google Docs). The other main services included in the cloud-based package are Spreadsheets (Excel), Documents (Word) and Slides (PowerPoint).
RELATED: What is G Suite?
Google Forms allows you to collect information from people through questionnaires or personalized surveys. You can connect the information to a spreadsheet in Sheets to automatically record responses. The spreadsheet is filled with responses to the questionnaire or survey in real time. This makes Google Forms one of the easiest ways to save data directly to a spreadsheet.
With Forms, you can collect attendance confirmations, start surveys or create questionnaires for students with a simple online form. You can share your form by email, direct link or on social media and ask everyone to participate.
And since Forms is an online tool, you can share and collaborate with multiple people on the same form in real time.
Have you heard enough? Let’s start!
Signing up for a Google Account
Before you can use Google Forms, you need to sign up for a Google account (an @gmail). If you already have one, feel free to move on to the next section. Otherwise, we’ll cover the simplest way to create a Google Account and set you up with Forms.
Go to accounts.google.com, click “Create account” and select “For myself”.
On the next page, you provide some information – first and last name, username and password – to create your account.
You also need to verify your phone number in order for Google to ensure that you are not a bot.
After verifying your phone number, subsequent pages require you to provide a recovery email address, date of birth and gender. You must also agree to the privacy statement and terms of service. After that, you are the proud new owner of a Google account.
How to create a blank form
Now that you have a Google account, it’s time to create your first form. Go to Google Forms home page and place the cursor on the multicolored plus sign (+) in the lower right corner.
The plus sign turns into a purple pencil icon; click it to create a new form.
Professional tip: You can type
forms.new in the address bar of any browser and press Enter to automatically create and open a new blank form.
Customizing your form
One of the first things you may want to do after creating a new blank form is to give it a little personality. Google Forms allows you to customize the theme and help it stand out by adding an image, color and font style.
Click on the artist palette at the top of the screen. From here, you can choose a header image from one of the many photos provided (or upload one), the main color of the form, the background color and the font style.
Although customization is absent with regard to the theme of the forms (in addition to being able to send any image to the header), Google Forms compensates you with everything it has to offer.
After customizing your form, close the theme options to return to your search.
Choosing question types
When creating a Google Form, you can choose the types of questions you want people to answer. If you want static responses from a multiple choice form or essay responses, you can create your ideal form in a snap!
Click the drop-down menu next to the question field.
Then, select the type of question you want from the list.
Your choices are:
- Short answer: The answers require only a few words. You can define rules that people must follow in their response with data entry validation. Great for email addresses or URLs.
- Paragraph: Responses require long responses of one or more paragraphs. Data entry validation is also available for this type of response.
- Multiple choice: People choose from a set of options (one per question). You can include “Other” and an option for people to enter a short answer. Depending on a person’s response, you can also send them to a different section of the form.
- Checkboxes: Respondents choose one or more from a set of options, including the “Others” option for a short answer. Depending on a person’s response, you can send them to a different section of the form.
- Suspended: People choose their answers from a set of options in a drop-down menu (one per question). Based on the answer, you can again send people to another section of the form.
- File upload: This allows the person to upload a file in response to a question. Uploaded files use Google Drive space for the search owner. You can specify the size and type of file that people can upload.
- Linear scale: People can rate their question on a scale that starts at 0 or 1 and ends with an integer from 2 to 10.
- Multiple choice grid: This creates a grid from which people can select one answer per line. Optionally, you can limit responses to one option per column and shuffle the order of the rows.
- Check box grid: This option creates a grid from which people can select one or more responses per line. Optionally, you can limit responses to one option per column and shuffle the order of the rows.
- Meeting: The respondent must choose the date as an answer to the question. The default is day, month and year. Optionally, you can include time in people’s responses.
- Time: The respondent must choose the time of day or duration.
How to add more questions
If you are creating a survey or questionnaire, it will likely include more than one question. Google Forms makes it easy to add as many questions as you like and can vary the types of questions. You can even separate them into sections, so that everything does not appear on a single page.
To add more questions to your form, click the plus sign (+).
To add another section to separate questions, click on the icon that looks like two rectangles.
Optionally, you can give the section a name and description to distinguish it from other sections later.
If you want to add any questions to a different section, it’s simple! Just drag and drop between sections. At the end of the section, click on the drop-down menu to choose where the form should direct people to follow.
How to create a survey
Google Forms is not just for surveys or event invitations. Teachers can use Forms to create digital questionnaires, which automatically rank, send results (if enabled) and collect student responses.
It is one of the easiest ways to provide students with immediate feedback and reduce the amount of time you spend on placement tests.
Click the Settings icon at the top of the page.
Click on the “Tests” tab and switch to “Make this a test”.
After activating the quiz mode, you can choose when to release a student’s grade and what information they can see after submitting the quiz. When finished, click “Save” to exit the window.
After returning to your questionnaire, select one of the questions and click on “Answer Key” to edit the correct answer and the weight of each question in the questionnaire.
This is where you define the correct answer (s), decide how many points each is worth, and add answer feedback to the answers to each question.
Click “Edit question” to close the answer key and save your changes.
note: While you can only select correct answers for multiple choice, checkbox and drop-down questions, you can associate any question with a point value for correction.
How to collaborate on forms
Like all apps in the Google suite, Forms allows you to collaborate with others. Anyone with whom you share a unique link can edit the questions on your form. This makes it much easier to work on the same research with a group.
To do this, click on the three dots at the top of the page and click on “Add collaborators”.
Then, under the heading “Who has access”, click “Change”.
Select “Enabled – Anyone with the link” to generate a shareable link. Anyone with that link can access and edit your form. Click “Save”.
You can now copy and share the link with anyone who wants to access your form.
You can do a lot more with these shareable links, as they also work with other Drive files and on your phone. For a deeper look at how links work and how to generate them, check out our guide.
How to store responses in Google Sheets
Google Forms stores responses on your form automatically. It saves each answer on the “Answers” tab at the top of your form and is updated in real time as people respond to questions.
However, if you prefer a more in-depth way to analyze your form responses, you can generate a new Google Spreadsheet – or link to an existing one – to store and view responses. When viewing data stored in a spreadsheet, you can apply several types of Google Sheets calculations and functions to create formulas that manipulate your responses.
To do this, select the “Answers” tab and click on the green Sheets icon.
Then click on “Create” to generate a new spreadsheet to store all your responses.
Each spreadsheet contains all the answers, along with a timestamp of when the survey was completed.
If you already have a spreadsheet you want to use, you can do that too! Instead of clicking “Create”, click “Select existing spreadsheet” and then click “Select”.
Choose the desired spreadsheet from the list of those saved in Google Drive and click “Select”.
As people answer each question on the form, their responses appear dynamically on the selected spreadsheet in Google Spreadsheet.
How to use a form template
Sometimes you don’t want to think about the format or questions in a survey. In that case, you can use a template in the Google Forms template gallery. It has templates for everything from party invitations to course evaluation forms.
To get started, go to the Google Forms home page and place the cursor on the multicolored plus sign (+) in the lower right corner.
The plus sign becomes a purple pencil and a purple page icon. Click the purple page icon.
When the window opens, choose a template from one of the three sections: Personal, Work or Education.
Click on a template. The form opens on the current tab and saved to your Drive with all other forms. If you want to add a question or edit an existing one, the templates are customizable, just like any other form.
Add the finishing touches
Before sharing your form with everyone, check your settings. From here, you can collect email addresses, create a confirmation message, limit responses to one per person, and more.
Click the Settings icon at the top of the page.
The first tab has some settings that you can activate. From here, you can collect email addresses and limit each person to one submission. You can also choose whether respondents can edit their responses after submission or see a summary chart at the end of the survey.
note: If you enable “Limit to 1 answer”, the respondent must sign in with their Google account to access their form. Anyone without a Google Account will not be able to submit responses to your form. Unless you are sure that everyone has a Google Account, leave this option disabled.
The “Presentation” tab has settings that show a progress bar that lets people know how long they are on the form. You can also scramble the order of questions, show a link to resubmit the form (if “Limit to 1 answer” is disabled) or compose a confirmation message that respondents see after submitting the form.
After you’re done, click “Save” to save your changes and return to your form.
Sharing your form
Once you’ve finished creating a form, it’s time to submit it and get some answers. You can share the form via email, a direct link, in your social media account or embed it on your website.
To get sharing, open the form you want to share and click “Submit”.
Choose how you want to share your form from the options at the top of the panel. From left to right, your options are: email, direct link, an embedded link to your website, Facebook and Twitter.
This beginner’s guide will get you up and running with Google Forms quickly! If you need a survey to find out what everyone is bringing to the barbecue or a questionnaire for your physics class, Google Forms is a powerful and easy-to-use tool. And it doesn’t cost a penny.