Simple Steps to Formatting Your Next Survey

Written by PortMA

Simple Steps to Formatting Your Next Survey

Making sure you properly program and format a survey is relatively straightforward. You’ll save yourself a ton of trouble if you make sure you approached it in the right manner. The look, feel, and function of your survey are a vital part of data collection. Formatting, or programming, the survey the correct way in the first attempt is key in efficiency and productivity. Here is how we, at PortMA, suggest set up the steps for formatting a survey.

Figure out the Survey Format and Stick With it.

First, lock down your exact question formatting. Personally, I dislike the way our survey software doesn’t put any space between a question and the first response. Because of this feature, all of my questions automatically end with a line break. Additionally, I consistently go with italicized parenthetical instructions. It seems like a bit of a no-brainer, but trust me, going back and reformatting 40 questions because you changed your mind is about the most mind-numbing project in existence.

Get it All in There.

Next, just get all of your questions in the survey.  Don’t worry about page breaks or question logic, just make sure that all of your questions are in place.  Once all of your questions are in do a test run of the survey to make sure you didn’t miss anything. This test will show you what will show up, how it looks, and what you may have missed. Running the test after your question logic has been added can be complicated. By doing it this way you don’t have to worry about testing to see if questions exist once your logic is in place. You will have to re-do the questions if they don’t show up when you run the test, so save the refining until after the test is run. Breaking this up makes testing more manageable on larger surveys.

Know What you are Asking, and How They can Answer.

This is an important step for formatting your survey Make sure your question typing is accurate, multi-selects are multi, and single selects are single.  Also, if you are like PortMA and don’t require every survey question, make sure you mark your important questions “required” at this step.

Page Breaks, Logic, and Layout.

Now that the dry run is done and you are sure that you have everything programmed you can add page breaks and logic. I’d recommend adding page breaks where necessary, deemed by logic. Generally, questions that span over two different pages are easily missed, or skipped. First look at page breaks then look at page length and see if any of your pages need to be broken up. Once you have the layout in place the next step is to refine your questions. Make sure that your wording and answer selections will pull in the data that your clients are after.

Polish it up and Make it Yours

Now you can add intro text, outro text, and necessary brand logos. Basically, add the amenities to make your survey look nice.  You can decide on a color scheme and header formatting.  While you can do this at the end, after the final test, it’s nice to do it when you can get a feel for what the pages will look like full of questions.  Additionally, this is a good time to set up your link settings, such as the disqualification page, security, and custom URLs.

The Big Moment, the Final Test.

With all this survey formatting in place, you should be good for your final testing.  I recommend avoiding the internal testing tool that many apps offer, and instead of trying to do it entirely from a consumer standpoint.  Open your link in an incognito window and test it that way.  This ensures that you’ll see any oddities and if any of your formattings just isn’t appealing.

The Conclusion.

Like what you see? Great! Next, send it to a team member and get a second set of eyes to do some quality assurance. Your team can help make any adjustments or revisions that may be needed and should be able to provide some useful feedback. Once your revisions are done send the formatted survey off to your client for review. If you have followed our recommendations then have confidence that they are going to love it!

Additional Resources


  • Experiential Measurement Blueprint
  • Event Impression Calculator
  • Experiential ROI Benchmarking Reports
  • Event Measurement Video Tutorials
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