Earlier this week, Iain requested a set of instructions to show to create a Google form like the one I made in the post, “How important are these digital skills for you as an educator? (poll)” Here they are!


If you do not have a Google account already, you can create one in two ways. Either option is free. I recommend option 1.

  1. Create a free Gmail account. This login can also serve as your Google account.
  2. Use an existing email account to which you have access, and create a Google account with it. You can specify a unique password for this account, which is NOT directly tied to your email account. (The passwords are maintained independently.)

After logging in to Google, visit the Google Docs homepage: docs.google.com


From the CREATE NEW drop-down menu in Google Docs, choose FORM.

Create New Form


Two sample questions are automatically created for your form, which you can edit as desired. Note you can change the question type to be text, paragraph text, multiple choice, checkboxes, choose from a list, scale, or grid. Click ADD in the upper left corner to add more questions. Click SAVE periodically in the upper right corner to save your work.

Working with a Google Form

Notice you can make questions REQUIRED by clicking the checkbox at the bottom of the question editing area. After you have finished editing a question and you click DONE, you can edit it again by clicking the PENCIL icon on the right side of it. The second icon will DUPLICATE the question, and the trash can will delete it.

Edit a question

You can also click and drag to reorder your questions as desired.


This step is optional, but Google Forms now permits users to select different themes which make your surveys look more interesting as well as (potentially) more professional. There are currently 95 different form themes available, by the time you read this there may be more. Click the FORM THEME at the top of the form window to make a selection.

Change your form theme

After choosing a desired theme, click APPLY in the upper left corner to return to the form editor.


By default, after people submit your webform they will be shown a webpage which reads, “Thanks! Your response will now appear in my spreadsheet.” You can customize this message if desired.

Edit Confirmation

You also can also choose to publish a response summary for respondents to see after they submit their own answers.

Publish response summary

Google Forms now supports active / live hyperlinks in response messages as well, so you can provide a link back to your own website if desired. Last time I tried, you could NOT enter HTML code for a link, making “plain English” text a hyperlink. You have to use/paste the full URL for it to be active in the form response window. Even though it’s not as “pretty” and professional looking as linked text can be, it’s still WONDERFUL that Google Forms provides this functionality. We use Google Forms for all our Celebrate Oklahoma Voices and now Celebrate Kansas Voices workshop registrations. We’ve used Google Forms for this for the past two years and have not had any problems, other than some “human errors” when some people moved some data around in the actual spreadsheet accidentally. That could happen in Excel too, of course, and wasn’t a problem with Google Forms or Google Docs.

It is worth noting that when editing a form, your actions are NOT recorded in the document history, so they can be “undone” or “reverted” as they are in a standard Google document or spreadsheet. You also want to be careful to generally NOT move questions around in your form after people have started submitting answers, or the order of your spreadsheet columns can get messed up. After creating a form and opening it up for sharing, it’s generally best (I’ve found) to leave it “as is” and not tweak it further.


At the bottom of your Google Form editing window, a link is shown to your “live” public form. This is the link you want to click and copy, so you can share it with others who will respond to your survey.

Link to your form

Another way to share your form is to EMBED it in a blog post or on a webpage which others will visit to complete your form. The EMBED code is available at the top of your form window, under the MORE ACTIONS button just above EDIT CONFIRMATION. Google Forms are embedded using the IFRAME tag. This tag is NOT supported on all blogging platforms, and depending on where you are posting it (and your user rights – WordPress users must be administrators to post IFRAME and EMBED tags I think) your HTML code could get “stripped” out of your post. Embedding is a very user-friendly way to provide others access to your forms, however, and if you can use the embed code I think it’s a good idea. That’s how I shared the survey, “How important are these digital skills for you as an educator? (poll)” earlier this week.


Google Form results can be viewed several ways. Data from your form goes directly into a Google Spreadsheet, which can be viewed online or downloaded as an Excel or other file type. Online or offline, you can then create various charts and graphs to see your results visually. I like to view the summary responses which the Google Form automatically generates, by choosing SEE RESPONSES – SUMMARY at the top of the form editing window.

View summary responses

The screenshot below shows the first two summary responses for that survey from this week.

Partial responses to my Google Form

That’s about it! Remember you can turn your form OFF or back ON from the FORM menu of your spreadsheet, by changing whether the option “ACCEPTING RESPONSES” is checked or not. A large number of tutorials about using Google Forms are available online, including those on the Google Docs help site itself. A few elements of Google Forms have changed since they were first introduced, but most of these steps have remained the same. The most significant enhancement which Google made to Google Forms earlier this year (I think) was permitting users to create BRANCHING FORMS or surveys. This is done with multiple choice questions, by clicking the box “GO TO PAGE BASED ON ANSWER.”

Branching Surveys in Google Forms

If you want to create branching forms, you’ll need to use the ADD menu in the upper left corner of the Google Form editing window and choose to add additional pages to your survey. If you make this complex, it can help to diagram out your survey or form in a “storyboard” format. This can make it easier to build the actual form online, using your drawn rough draft as a model. Before Google added branching form functionality, this feature was a compelling reason to use a commercial form service like SurveyMonkey. While SurveyMonkey still offers features Google Forms does not, like 508 compliance, the option add a custom logo, and other things, it’s amazing how robust Google Forms is for even complex survey needs.

The website links Google Forms generates can be lengthy, and these can be cut off or truncated in email messages. To make links shorter, you can use URL shortener websites like tinyurl.com, but I’ve found many school districts block these websites. Because of this, when sharing a survey link I generally share BOTH a shortened version (with tinyurl.com) and the full web link.

Although it takes a bit more time, it’s worth noting you can create self-grading quizzes with Google Forms. While this might not be something you want to spend time doing every week, it could be something you ask students to do as part of their own assignments or projects for class. This video shows you how. H/T to Lisa Thumann for sharing this video when we led a Google Workshop for Educators in Austin last November.

Unlike many commercial form and survey options, Google Forms does not have a maximum number of respondents! The price is right, it’s FREE. Give Google Forms a try this year, and challenge your students to use surveys to collect and analyze data for their own reports too. If you’re looking for more Google Resources, head over to Google for Education homepage. There’s plenty of new things to learn there to keep us all busy for a LONG time! 🙂

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9 Responses to Create a free online survey with Google Forms

  1. Anne says:

    Excellent article. May I use it?

  2. Thanks for such succinct instructions for using this tool!

  3. Janko says:

    many similar and other options could be get on surveysimply.com as well

  4. Tuan Bui says:

    here is another option for creating quizzes and surveys that work for both desktop/laptop and mobile devices, check out http://www.mobosurvey.com/survey/designer

  5. Tuan Bui says:

    here is another option for creating quizzes and surveys that work for both desktop/laptop and mobile devices, check out http://www.mobosurvey.com/survey/designer

  6. This is best information on the topic I’ve seen; particularly the part about creating a link, which I’ve used to conduct a survey via G+. Many thanks.

  7. Francis says:

    Thanks for this clear outline. I really can profit from the ability to direct surveyed people back to my site using the “Thank you page”.

    Is it possible to style things on the thank you page differently, e.g. using bold or italic characters? Or is any other HTML code possible?

  8. Pritesh says:

    nice tutorial… 🙂 Google Now recently launched “Google survey” so that publisher can have chance to make money using survey… 🙂 🙂


  9. Dean Hayes says:

    I like your tutorial, BUT a question remains……….is it possible to turn words on the form itself, such as the ‘help text’ into a hyperlink, so clicking those words would take one to a URL to read, say, a policy letter?

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