Exploring Office 2007: Working with Survey Forms in Word 2007

Thursday Apr 22nd 2010 by Helen Bradley
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Creating Surveys in Word 2007.

Most of us are very familiar with surveys because we have completed them from time to time. We know how to fill them in and we have experienced both good and bad surveys — some are cumbersome to complete while others are very simple and straightforward.

When it comes time to create your own surveys, your should plan to create a survey that is functional and easy to complete. In this article I'll show you how to create such a survey in Microsoft Word 2007. This can be completed easily inside Word, and it's handy to use when you know your survey participants have access to Word.

» Step 1. Plan the survey

Before you begin in Word you should plan your survey. Determine what you want to know about the survey topic and what the person that you're asking can help you understand about it. List the survey questions and decide how best the user can provide you with the information you need.

Surveys are more likely to be completed if they are easy to complete, so that means you should use lists that the recipient can choose an item from and checkboxes as much as possible rather than requiring the person to write their answers.

Once you have determined the questions and how they will be answered, launch Word 2007 and open a new document. Type the questions that you want to ask. To manage the layout of the form, place these in the first column of a table with its borders turned off so you can wrap long questions around inside the table cell.

To add the controls for completing the form, we'll use options on the Developer tab. If you don't see this tab, click the Office button > Word Options > Popular and make sure that Show Developer tab in the Ribbon is enabled.

» Step 2. Add Checkbox Controls

To add a checkbox for the user to check to select an answer, position your cursor where the checkbox should go — in our case, in a table cell opposite the question — and click the Developer tab and then click Design Mode.

Click the Legacy Tools button and, from the Legacy Forms collection, select the Check Box Form Field button. If you use Legacy tools your form can be completed by anyone using Word 2007 and earlier versions of Word.

Type the appropriate answer beside the checkbox and then repeat to add all the checkboxes you need for the choices the user has for that particular survey question.

If you have a series of questions that all use the same answer options — e.g. Very Dissatisfied, Somewhat Dissatisfied, Satisfied, Very Satisfied — then you can place the checkboxes inside a table and add the description for each checkbox into the table header row. This way you can rotate the column headings and you do not have to repeat the information for every question. You would use this where you are repeatedly using the same range of checkboxes.

Once you've created the first set of checkboxes you can copy and paste these to create the second set of options and so on.

» Step 3. Add Other Controls

To add an area into which the user can type a piece of text, select the Text Form Field from the Legacy Tools. This creates an area into which the user can then type a text entry.

To format the text control, right click it, choose Properties, and then add some text inside the Default Text area. Here too you can limit the amount of text which can appear in the control, if desired.

To allow the user to choose from a set of choices, select the Drop-Down Form Field control and then right click it and choose Properties. Click Add to add a list of options that the user can select from.

To neaten the form you can remove shading from the checkboxes and drop down lists. To do this, click the Legacy Form > Form Field Shading option. This toggles form field shading on or off for the entire form.

» Step 4. Finalize the survey

Once your have your survey form complete, you will need to protect the form so that it can be used. In general, form controls don't actually work unless the form is protected. Start by clicking Design Mode to turn this off and to return to edit mode. Then, to protect the form, from the Developer tab, select Protect Document > Restrict Formatting and Editing.

 

Then, when the task pane opens, enable the Allow only this type of editing in the document checkbox and, from the list below it, choose Filling in forms. Click the Yes, Start Enforcing Protection button and, if desired, set a password to protect the form. Typically you will not bother as all you're really seeking to do is to make the form controls work.

Now save your document. If you plan to allow others access to it to fill it out, you can create it as a template by choosing File > Save As and next choosing Word Template (*.dotx) from the Save as type dropdown list. Click Trusted Templates at the top left of the dialog and save your file.

Now you can create a new document based on the template and test your form. If it needs editing you must open the template, unprotect it, make your changes, protect it again, and then resave it.

If you have used only Legacy Form controls then any user who has a copy of Word that has the add-in installed that allows them to read and edit Word 2007 documents can create and complete the survey. The free Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint File Forma add-in can be found here for download: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=941b3470-3ae9-4aee-8f43-c6bb74cd1466&displaylang=en.

When users open and complete the survey, they can simply click the checkboxes to enable and disable them, type in a text box and select an option from the drop-down list.

Before we wrap up this month's article, here are six handy tips for creating the most effective surveys:

 

  • Only ever ask questions that you really need to ask, not every question you can think of.

  • Ensure you make it clear to the respondent exactly what sort of information you want from them.

  • To make survey answers more useful offer four options not five. If you offer Dissatisfied, Slightly Dissatisfied, Satisfied, and Very Satisfied, respondents cannot take a middle ground and must choose Slightly Dissatisfied or Slightly Satisfied. If you offer Dissatisfied, Slightly Dissatisfied, Neutral, Satisfied, Very Satisfied many respondents will settle for Neutral as a noncommittal answer.

  • Be aware that for some questions Not Applicable is the appropriate answer so allow for that rather than forcing respondents to choose an inappropriate alternate answer.

  • Stick to the same order for your answers — if one question has Dissatisfied as the first answer do not make Very Satisfied the first option in the next question.

  • The quicker and easier your survey is to read, understand and complete, the more likely it is that someone will be happy to go to the effort of completing it for you.

Helen Bradley is a respected international journalist writing regularly for small business and computer publications in the USA, Canada, South Africa, UK and Australia. She blogs at http://www.projectwoman.com/blogger.html.

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