The Ultimate Guide to Google Forms in 2024

Google Forms is a versatile online form builder that organizations of all kinds use to easily collect information and data. Event registrations, customer feedback surveys, job applications, academic quizzes – the use cases for Google Forms are practically limitless.

Best of all, Google Forms is completely free to use as part of Google‘s web-based office suite. The intuitive drag-and-drop form builder and deep integrations with Google Workspace make it an appealing choice, especially for teams already using Google tools.

In fact, Google Forms adoption has skyrocketed in recent years:

  • Over 3 billion questions are answered in Google Forms every day (Source: Google)
  • Google Forms usage increased 203% from March-April 2020 alone (Source: Productiv)
  • Educational institutions make up 76% of Google Forms users (Source: Enlyft)

Ready to master this increasingly ubiquitous tool? In this ultimate guide to Google Forms, we‘ll cover everything you need to know, including:

  • How to plan and create effective Google Forms
  • All the key features and customization options
  • Integrations and advanced capabilities
  • Tips for form design and user experience
  • How to analyze, visualize and take action on form data

Plus, we‘ll highlight a few limitations of Google Forms compared to other online survey tools. Let‘s get started!

Planning and Creating Effective Google Forms

Before you start adding questions, it‘s important to plan out your form‘s goal and structure. What information are you trying to collect and why? How will you use the data?

Thoughtful planning is the foundation of a great form. Consider:

  • Target audience: Who will fill out your form? What‘s their level of knowledge about the topic?
  • Information needed: What key pieces of data do you absolutely need vs. what‘s nice to have?
  • Question types: Will open-ended text, multiple choice, checkboxes, dropdowns, linear scales or other question types work best?
  • Form logic: Do certain questions depend on answers to previous ones? Use sections and branching wisely.
  • Length: What‘s the ideal number of questions to get the info you need without overwhelming respondents?

Form Question Best Practices

As you craft your form questions, aim for clarity, specificity and lack of bias. Here are a few best practices:

  • Use plain, jargon-free language

  • Be specific and avoid vague quantifiers (e.g. use "in the past 6 months" instead of "recently")

  • Avoid leading or loaded questions that point to a "correct" answer

  • Provide mutually exclusive answer options

  • Allow an "Other" or "N/A" option when relevant

  • Avoid double-barreled questions that ask about multiple things

Check out our full guide to survey question design for more tips.

Creating a New Form

With your questions planned out, you‘re ready to build your Google Form. Head to forms.google.com and click the plus sign to start a new blank form.

The form builder has three main sections:

Google Forms builder annotated

  1. Form preview: See how your form looks to respondents
  2. Question palette: Add and edit questions here
  3. Customization options: Change form settings, access add-ons, and get sharing options

First, give your form a title and description. Explain the form‘s purpose and provide any necessary instructions here.

Then, use the right-hand question fields to add your questions. Click the plus sign to add a new question. Google Forms offers 11 question types:

  • Short answer: Open-ended text responses
  • Paragraph: Open-ended text responses with more room to write
  • Multiple choice: Respondents select one answer from a list
  • Checkboxes: Respondents select multiple answers from a list
  • Dropdown: Respondents select one answer from a dropdown menu
  • File upload: Respondents upload a file
  • Linear scale: Respondents rank something on a numbered scale (e.g. 1-5)
  • Multiple choice grid: Respondents select one answer per row in a grid
  • Checkbox grid: Respondents select multiple answers per row in a grid
  • Date: Respondents use a calendar picker to enter a date
  • Time: Respondents enter a time

You can further customize each question with features like:

  • Making the question required
  • Shuffling answer order
  • Setting response validation rules
  • Adding hints or extended descriptions

Add multimedia like images and YouTube videos to provide visual interest and context. Create sections to visually group related questions together.

Beyond the questions, you can customize your form‘s look and feel. Change colors, fonts, and the form background to match your visual brand. Or choose from pre-made visual themes.

Key Google Forms Features

Google Forms has a wide array of features to help you create powerful, logic-driven forms. Some key ones to know:

Question Branching

Question branching lets you send respondents to different questions based on how they answer. For example, if a respondent chooses "Yes" to "Are you currently a customer?" you may want to ask a follow up question.

To set up branching, click the three dots on a question and choose "Go to section based on answer." Define which answers route people to which sections.

Response Validation

Set rules to automatically validate responses. For example, you can:

  • Require a valid email address format

  • Set min or max numbers for a linear scale

  • Restrict short answer text to contain certain words

When a respondent tries to submit an invalid response, they‘ll get an error message and be prompted to fix it.

Quiz Mode

The Quiz feature automatically grades multiple choice or checkbox questions. It‘s great for academic quizzes, trivia competitions, and training assessments. You can show respondents their results immediately after submitting.

To enable quiz mode, go to the Settings gear and choose "Make this a quiz." Then for each gradable question, click "Answer key" to specify the correct answers and point values.

Limit to 1 Response

By default, respondents can fill out your form multiple times. To restrict people to one response each:

  1. Go to Settings

  2. Click "Limit to 1 response"

  3. Choose whether to limit by sign-in or IP address

If limiting by sign-in, respondents must be signed into a Google account to access your form.

Collaboration

Similar to other Google applications, you can collaborate on a form in real-time with teammates. To add collaborators:

  1. Click the three dots at the top

  2. Choose "Add collaborators"

  3. Enter email addresses and set their permission level (e.g. edit, view, or submit)

All collaborators can view and analyze form responses together.

Add-ons

The Google Forms add-on store offers integrations with third-party tools and custom features. Examples include:

  • Form Publisher: Auto-generate printable PDFs from form responses

  • formLimiter: Close your form automatically when a max number of responses is reached

  • Choice Eliminator: Automatically remove full choices from multiple choice questions

  • Form Notifications: Get customizable email notifications for new responses

To access add-ons, click the three dots and choose "Add-ons."

Integrating Google Forms with Other Google Apps

One of the biggest selling points of Google Forms is its seamless integration with the rest of Google Workspace. Some key integrations:

Google Sheets

Form responses automatically populate a Google Sheets spreadsheet. You can use Sheets‘ tools to analyze response data, create visualizations, and spot trends over time.

From the Responses tab, click the green Sheets icon to either create a new spreadsheet or link to an existing one.

Use Sheets features like formulas, pivot tables, and charts to slice-and-dice your data. For instance:

  • Calculate the average rating on a linear scale question

  • Count the frequency of each multiple choice response

  • Identify the response with the maximum value in a number field

Google Slides

Automatically generate polished Slides presentations with your form response charts and data. Great for stakeholder reporting.

In the form builder, go to Responses > Summary > Print Summary. Choose the Slides option for print layout and print the summary charts to a new slideshow.

Google Sites

Embed a form directly on your Google Site in one click. No need to mess with embed codes.

From the form editor, click Send > Embed HTML. Choose "New Google Sites" and follow the prompts to add to a Sites page.

The form lives in an iframe and inherits any logic, customization, or validation rules. When people fill it out, responses flow back to your original form.

Google Classroom

Educators can use Google Forms and Google Classroom together for quizzes and student feedback. In Classroom, create an assignment and attach a form. Student quiz scores auto-import to the Classroom gradebook.

Using the Quiz assignment type, you can set a due date, lock the quiz after submission, and control when students see results. Great for asynchronous assessment.

Google Forms Design & User Experience Tips

You‘ve planned stellar questions, added engaging multimedia, and set up integrations. Don‘t overlook design and user experience (UX)! A few tips:

Accessibility

Ensure your form works for respondents using assistive technologies like screen readers.

  • Use headings to define the form‘s structure

  • Label all form fields

  • Provide text alternatives for images

  • Ensure contrast between text and background colors

  • Allow people to complete the form using only a keyboard

Learn more about creating accessible forms in the Google Forms Accessibility Guide.

Mobile-friendliness

In a mobile-first world, your form must work smoothly on small screens.

  • Keep question text concise

  • Use images sparingly

  • Minimize the number of open-ended paragraph questions

  • Put instructions in the form description, not questions

Google Forms automatically optimizes question layout for mobile, but it‘s still smart to preview your form on a few different devices.

Progress Bars

Especially for longer forms, adding a progress bar helps orient respondents and reduce abandonment. People like to know how close they are to the end.

To add a progress bar:

  1. Go to Settings

  2. Under "Presentation," toggle on "Show progress bar"

  3. Choose whether to display the bar at the bottom or top of form pages

Confirmation Messages

Customize the message respondents see after submitting your form under Settings > "Presentation."

A clear confirmation reassures people their response went through. You might say something like:

"Thanks for sharing your feedback! The product team will review all responses and reach out if we need any clarification."

You can also redirect respondents to a URL after submitting, such as your company homepage.

Advanced Tips: Analyzing Google Forms Data

Creating your form is half the battle. Now it‘s time to analyze the responses and extract meaningful insights.

The Responses tab gives you three views of your form data:

  • Summary: Highlights response totals and charts for each question
  • Question: Raw response data for individual questions
  • Individual: Complete responses from each respondent

For quick takeaways, scan the Summary charts and graphs. See the most frequent responses and overall data distribution.

Google Forms Summary view example

When you need to go deeper, turn to the spreadsheet linked to your form (you can get there right from Responses > Sheets icon).

A few tips for analyzing form data in Sheets:

  • Use filters and conditional formatting to highlight key data points

  • Create pivot tables to summarize and cross-tabulate data

  • Visualize data as a table or heatmap with the Chart tool

  • Write custom formulas to manipulate data

For example, to get the overall customer satisfaction score from a feedback survey:

  1. Create a new column

  2. Enter a formula to convert each text rating to a number (e.g. "Very satisfied" = 5, "Satisfied" = 4, etc.)

  3. Use the AVERAGE function to calculate the mean of all the numerical ratings

Check out the Google Sheets function list for more formula ideas.

Limitations of Google Forms

Google Forms is a robust tool, but it does have some limitations compared to advanced survey platforms:

  • 100 question limit per form (other tools allow unlimited)

  • No question reuse across forms (can‘t save individual questions to a library)

  • Limited advanced logic and branching (only skip logic based on answer; no piping or advanced formulas)

  • No white labeling (Google branding and URLs always present)

  • Limited analytics and reporting (can‘t slice and filter data, limited visualization options)

For basic data collection, Google Forms is a great free tool, but complex market research or customer experience surveys may require specialized software.

See how Google Forms stacks up to competitors in this survey tool comparison.

Getting Started With Google Forms

Ready to create your first Google Form? Start simple! Practice with a short event registration form or internal team feedback survey.

As you build, reference Google‘s official Forms documentation for step-by-step guidance.

Have fun exploring the question options, design customizations, and integrations covered in this guide. When in doubt, put yourself in the respondent‘s shoes. How can you craft questions and flow to provide the smoothest experience?

With thoughtful planning and execution, Google Forms can be a survey powerhouse. You‘ll be creating forms so engaging, insightful, and painless that respondents actually enjoy filling them out. Imagine that!

Tags: