Formatting Your Survey Questionnaire

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How you choose to format your survey questionnaire is important because it determines how easy it is for the respondent to read, understand and answer your questions.

When structuring your survey questionnaire, your formatting priorities should be:

  1. The needs of the respondents
  2. The needs of data entry
  3. The needs of the researcher

Some Additional Formatting Considerations:

  • Your typeface should always be large and clear for ease in reading with a 12pt font serif or 10pt sanserif font minimum.
  • All instructions needed to complete the questionnaire should be available at the point in the questionnaire where they are to be used.
  • Answer instructions should appear just before the answer set.
  • Number all questions to help guide the respondent through the survey questionnaire.
  • Pre-coded closed questions should always have a “no answer” or “don’t know” provision.
  • Open-ended questions should be primarily reserved for pilot studies.
  • Fit questions on the screen or page – never split a question across two pages or screens unless absolutely necessary. One question per screen is the most desirable format.
  • Single questions on a line and vertical answer formats are preferred.

Many people use survey software to assist in the design and development of their survey research studies.

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