Planning your scanning survey

Scanning surveys are designed to be printed as paper questionnaires for your participants to complete and then once the responses are collected the Scanning module is used to scan the questionnaires directly to data responses in Snap XMP Desktop. The Scanning module can also be used to import image files of previously scanned questionnaires. The data responses can be used to analyse your survey data in the same way as other data responses that are keyed in from paper questionnaires or entered via web-based questionnaires.

Before you start designing your questionnaire for scanning, please keep in the mind the following do’s and don’ts to help with the success of scanning.

Scanning hardware

Hardware if you are using a physical scanner

It is essential that you have completed the following:

  • Installed both the scanner and appropriate ISIS Scanner Driver onto your PC. Sheet feeder required.

If scanning from a network scanner

  • Scan to PDF or TIFF, 300dpi and black and white.

The three golden rules

  1. Never change the survey once interviewing has started
  2. Always print from the same source, preferably a pdf (don’t photocopy).
  3. Always scan at a resolution of 300 dpi and black and white

The Dos and Don’ts of Scanning


  1. Create a brand new survey specifically for scanning using the Scanning template provided with Snap XMP Desktop when creating it.
  2. Provide instructions at the beginning of the survey advising on how to complete the questionnaire.
  3. Use check box questions wherever you can rather than ones which ask the user to write a response.
  4. Apply the grid box style for open-ended questions
  5. Use scanning validation and patterns to help recognise the type of data that will be entered.
  6. Calibrate and TEST your survey BEFORE distributing it. This can involve printing some copies, get colleagues to complete them and scan the answers in to check that everything works.
  7. Sort your surveys before scanning and make sure the page order and orientation are consistent.
  8. Scan in batches of between 10 and 50 pages.


  1. Design questionnaires with boxes that are shadowed, contain a coloured background or have a non-rectangular shape, such as a circle.
  2. Design questionnaires with boxes that do not have a clear margin around the perimeter of each box or with boxes that are too close together.
  3. Design questionnaires with background or drop-out colours that might conflict with the particular scanner in use. Certain light colours can appear transparent to a scanner but it is manufacturer dependent and light colours should always be used with caution.
  4. Change the margins, font or questions of a survey once live.
  5. Reduce the margins of the survey to any less than .25 inches/cm
  6. Expect to get good results from cases containing poorly written numbers or words. Although Snap will attempt to recognise them.
  7. Print on dark coloured paper; ideally stick to black text on white paper.
  8. Change printer or printer driver.
  9. Change the PC’s operating system.

Steps for designing a scanning survey using Snap XMP Desktop

  1. Set up a survey framework
  2. Design a questionnaire
  3. Check the questionnaire can be scanned
  4. Format the questionnaire
  5. Publish and distribute the questionnaire
  6. Collect the survey responses
  7. Clean the data and key any Open Ended questions as required.

Steps for using an externally defined questionnaire

  1. Create a Snap XMP questionnaire with the correct variables
  2. Scan a blank copy of the questionnaire
  3. Match the scan to the variables (the scanning definition process)
  4. Start the scan of the survey responses
  5. Clean the data and key any Open Ended questions as required.