google docs - logoDid you know Google Docs can help you create online surveys? When you begin to learn how to use Google Docs for the first time, you can be overwhelmed by everything it can do for you. You may go months using it without realizing just what you can get out of it. Google Docs allows you to create online surveys in relatively short time.

These surveys can then be e-mailed or embedded on a web site. This can make it easy to connect with other people, collect data and analyze information in a much more organized manner than going through one response at a time.

How to create a survey with Google Docs

We are going to create an online survey with Google Docs about reading the latest technology news. In order to start a survey, you need to login to your account. From there, you want to click on the Create new button and choose Form.

google docs - create new

You will start with a header where you can name your survey and give any additional instructions to those taking it.

google docs - header

If you want to add a theme to your survey to give it some color, you can choose from Google’s themes or create your own. For this survey, we are just going to go without a theme.

google docs - themes

Now, we are going to add questions. Google Docs gives you a wide variety of question types to choose from including: Text, paragraph text, multiple choice, checkboxes, choose from a list, scale and grid. These are all common types of question formats for surveys.

google docs - adding items & themes button

You can also change the type of question or start a new one from the box in the survey itself.

google docs - adding items from questions themselves

We will start with a text question. This allows the user to answer a single question and input a few limited responses. For every question you add to a survey, you can choose whether it is required or not. Simply check the option for it. This means the user must answer the question to submit the survey.

google docs - text answer

Our next question will be “multiple choice”. Users are given a handful of options to choose from and can only pick one to answer the question with.

google docs - multiple choice

Now we will work with a “checkbox format” question. This gives you the chance to add multiple answers and the user can choose all, none or a few to respond. You can also add an Other box for them to fill in a short answer if they have more to add in response than what you provided.

google docs - check box answers

A “choose from a list” question lets you add incremental response for a survey taker to choose from. In this example, we are asking the survey taker to let us know how often they share technology news with other people. We have set up increments in days for them to choose the best fit.

google docs - choose from a list

“Paragraph test” questions allow a user to give a longer answer to a survey question. In this case, we want the user to give us details about what makes them share technology news with other people. This type of data can give you more insight into the person taking the survey and how they are responding to questions.

google docs - paragraph answer

“Scale survey” questions allow you to ask a question and let the user pick the best fit on a scale of 1 to 5, 1 to 10 or any sort or parameters you set.

google docs - 1 - 5

The last type of question you can add is a “grid question”. If you have ever done an online job application where you do a survey at the end, this is the type of format used. This lets you give a set of parameters and allow the survey taker to judge them with any type of scale you set up. For the purposes of this survey, I wanted those taking it to tell me how interested they were in particular technology topics.

google docs - grid

Once you have finished your survey questions, you can decide if you want to send it to people or embed it on your web site. E-mailing it to specific people can target an audience. If you have a mailing list or newsgroup, this can be an effective way to gauge responses. If you have a web site, embedding it on a page and asking users to take it can get you response from a wider audience.

In order to e-mail a survey to people, you want to click the “Email this form” button. From here, you can enter in the e-mail addresses you want to send it to as well as give the e-mail a subject. You can also determine if you want the e-mail to contain the survey or simply link to it.


If you want to embed the survey on your web site, you want to go to “More actions” and choose “Embed”. A screen will pop up with a link for you to put on your web site to direct visitors to the survey.

google docs - embedding survey into web site

Also under More actions is the Edit confirmation option. This allows you to edit the text visitors see when they have successfully submitted the survey.

google docs - confirmation after submitting survey

You have now finished your first survey with Google Docs!

How to view the results of a Google Docs survey

When you login to Google Docs, you will see your new survey. Surveys are made via the Forms feature in Google Docs and saved as Spreadsheet files. If you click on the survey from your inbox, you will be taken to a spreadsheet of response data. This can be useful to see the results without it having been analyzed yet. This is your raw data for the survey.

google docs - spreadsheet answers

If you click on the Form option above the spreadsheet, you can click on Show summary of responses.

google docs - form to summary results

This will open a new window to show you a summary of all the results of your survey. This will give you a breakdown of every question and the responses that go with it in a nice, neat package. This lets you analyze the data much more quickly than going through cell-by-cell in the spreadsheet.

google docs - summary

What are the limits to creating surveys with Google Docs?

There are some limitations to consider when choosing to use Google Docs to make online surveys. While it can be an easy and reliable way to collect data, it can also be a nightmare to work with if you are creating a large survey. The larger the survey you create the slower and more time it takes for Google to compile the data into results for you. Every area of Google Docs has certain limits to prevent it from crashing, taking up too much space and causing issues for users. You can read more about the size limits of each area of Google Docs here.

While you can use Google Docs through a mobile phone, it can be difficult to navigate and load data when it comes to surveys. If you are using an Android or iPhone, you may have better luck loading a survey. However, you can only create surveys at a computer. You can access the mobile version of Google Docs.

Conclusion – Does Google Docs make it easy to create online surveys?

Google Docs is an easy way to make any type of online survey. It takes some time to get the hang of creating questions and laying them out, but it is worth the effort. Online surveys with Google Docs gives you the functionality to analyze data without having to comb through it yourself.

If you are working with a larger survey, this can make things easy when you start going over the results but it can also have limitations depending on just how long the survey is. If you are interested in using Google Docs to create online surveys, create a sample one, send it to your friends and see if it is worth using for whatever your survey needs may be.