Surveys can be a valuable tool for any organization that is continually interested in the feedback of it’s users, employees and other constituents. Some of you may already be familiar with Google Docs, a cloud-based document management system where you can create, edit and share documents. Google Forms works inside of the Google Docs platform and is an easy way to electronically collect data. You will need a google account in order to complete this module. For help setting up a google account, please go here first.

How it works:

Say you want to conduct a customer service satisfaction survey or you wish to gain insights from your colleagues before a possible change is made to their work procedure or environment. Google Forms allows you to create a survey form by selecting the types of questions you want (multiple choice, text, etc.) and offers some customization and control over the types of responses. Not only can you make certain questions mandatory, but you can also choose a theme and move questions around after you’ve inputted them. At any time, you can send the link to anyone with an email or “invite” people and have google send out the link for you. The participant can then answer the questions, and here’s the best part, google forms automatically creates a spreadsheet with your questions and as participants fill it out, the answers are placed into the spreadsheet with a timestamp of when it was completed. This two minute video gives a great visual introduction and explanation of how google forms works.

Why it’s useful:

If you are interested in customer feedback, you can embed the survey right onto your library website, or post the link to your facebook page or twitter. No longer is customer feedback limited to pen and paper. This allows you to reach more customers than just those who happen to stop in and pick up a paper survey. If you have an email list of customers, you can also send out the link and ask for feedback that way.

What is it that you need feedback on? Are you in charge of developing a new program and want input from other librarians but haven’t been getting many email responses? Maybe you aren’t getting the responses you are hoping for. By being able to ask questions, giving the option of mutiple choice to make it that much easier, google forms makes it simple for others to fill it out right away. When you send using the email feature within google docs, it inputs the form directly in the email so all the recipient has to do is read the questions right there in their email and fill them out. No saving documents and sending back to you or sending back a one word response when you really want a paragraph. You set the parameters for what kind of questions you want to ask and the kind of answers you want to get that will meet your needs. Some other ideas include: creating a form for book purchase requests, program registrations, or event feedback from customers.


Your tasks:
1. Determine your use for your form.
2. Brainstorm questions.

  • Come up with five questions that you want feedback from others on, and determine what type of responses you want for each questions.
  • Decide the order of the questions you want to ask. (This is important, because the order you first enter the questions on the form will be the order they will appear on your spreadsheet. Yes, you can move around your questions after, but the answers will still appear on the spreadsheet in the first order that you set when you inputted them on the form first).

3. Create one google form.

  • Go to your google account.
  • Click “documents” at the top of the page, then click “create” and select “spreadsheet”. This will open up a blank spreadsheet.

  • Go to Tools>Form>Create a Form

  • An “edit form” page will pop up. Fill in the title of your survey/form.

  • Fill out your first question and choose the type of question it will be. Be sure to check “make this question mandatory” if it is an important question.
  • For all additional questions, click “add item” at the top of the page.
  • Create a survey with 5 questions and at least two different varieties of question types so you can see how different question types show up on the spreadsheet.

4. Invite people to participate in your survey two different ways (send link, post link to Facebook, email link, “tweet” it or use the “invite” feature in google forms.)

  • At the top of the edit survey screen, click on “email this form” if you wish to email directly to participants.
  • Also on the edit form screen under “more options” is “embed”. This gives you the code to embed your survey on your website.
  • You can also copy and paste the link to your survey which always shows up at the bottom of your edit form screen.

5. Watch your results accumulate on your spreadsheet.

  • If you click “see responses” you can then click “spreadsheet” to view your spreadsheet.
  • From the spreadsheet view, you can always click Form>Edit Form to get back to the screen where you can make changes to your form.


Write a blog post about your experience with Google forms. Include some of the following:

  • What worked for you and what didn’t?
  • Share what two ways you used to invite people to take part in your survey.
  • Which way seemed more effective and why?
  • Any comments about the spreadsheet and how your results are presented to you?
  • Do you envision this tool as being useful to your organization? Why or why not? If you do see if being useful in the future, in what way might you use it?

More to Explore:

More features in google forms:

End your survey.

  • When you no longer want to accept responses, from your spreadsheet click on “Form”  and then uncheck “accepting responses”.
 Explore using the summary function to get a non-spreadsheet view of your results.
  • From the edit form screen go to See Responses>Summary.
  • This will display your results in a graph for each question.
Edit the confirmation message for your participants

  • From the “edit form” screen, go to More Actions>Edit Confirmation to create a custom message that your participants will see when they complete your survey.
Choose a creative theme.
  • From the “edit form” screen, click “theme” at the top of the page. Select your theme and be sure to click “apply” in order to set your theme.

Other survey tools similar to google forms:

 Doodle (simple survey-type scheduling tool)

Survey Monkey

This Learning 2.0 module was originally designed and implemented by students in Dr. Michael Stephens‘ Transformative Literacies class in the Spring of 2012 (LIBR 281-12).  This class is part of San Jose State University’s School of Library and Information Science curriculum. It was authored by Christina Jupp for Crandall Library/Create Plus 8. It is available for use for other libraries or institutions.  This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.


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