The Survey Questionnaire

Survey websites make it easy to create online surveys, get responses and analyse results. Paper-based surveys involve more work yet still have their place. But the effectiveness of any survey depends to a large extent on the the quality of its questionnaire. Whether online or offline, writing an effective survey questionnaire takes thought and planning. For best results, survey questionnaires should:

  • be designed with a specific purpose in mind
  • use the simplest language possible
  • be as concise as possible

A survey can ask questions in several different formats:

  • Closed-ended Questions
    These have pre-defined answer choices and can range from two answer choices to many answer choices. They include:
    • Yes/No
    • Multiple choice (one answer only)
    • Multiple choice (more than one answer possible)
    • Matrix
    • Ranked

  • Open-ended Questions
    These allow respondents to answer in their own words, from as short as a comment to as long as an essay.

The next page shows an illustration of survey question types. The subsequent pages offer some general do's and don'ts to get you started in creating your own surveys.