Define Question

This page defines one question and its answers.  The contents of this page change depending on the question's style and type, as explained here.

When a new question is created, the page looks like this:

Every question must have a "Question name". Besides identifying the question, this name is used as the column name when data is saved in a database table. Question names can only use letters, numbers, and an underscore (_) and can be up to 30 characters long.

The "Select a question style" menu determines the appearance and behavior of the question. The Standard question style is used most of the time, and allows creating all standard questionnaire and form elements.  Other Question Styles allow displaying a question in a particular format or using a specific behavior, such as verifying that the text entered is a valid number. To see what other styles do, pull down the menu, pick a Question Style, and then click on "Explain" to get specific instructions for how the style works; some of them display an illustration on the right hand side of what they look like. For more information, see Question Styles.

The "Select a question type" menu determines its kind: radio button, check boxes, drop down, text field. Cycle through the question types with the keyboard or mouse to see  a sample of what each type looks like on the right, like this:

The "Question Text" field is where the question to ask is entered, such as "What are your favorite colors?", as shown below. There is no limit to how much text you can enter; the field will become larger automatically as you enter more text.

Question Text

Clicking on "Use HTML Editor" activates the HTML Editor, which is being used here to display the word "your" in bold type:

Question Text with HTML Editor
When using the HTML editor, you can enlarge it by dragging its lower right corner.

If Question Help is selected in the General settings, a "Question help text" field is available. Text entered here will be shown when the respondent clicks on the [?] help link.  When not using Question Help, this box is not present:

Question Help

Several question types require specifying each possible valid answer. They are radio buttons, drop-down menus, and checkboxes. When using a radio button or drop-down question, this section of the page looks like this:


In the above example,there are 3 valid answers: 1, 2 and 3. When the questionnaire data is saved, the values 1,2,3 will be written to the database. The questionnaire that respondents see will not show 1,2,3; instead, it shows:


Clicking on the Explain link brings up a quick reminder of how to fill out this section:


Rules for how to enter answers:

In a question of type checkbox, it is recommended to fill the Value column with meaningful alphabetic codes. For example, if asking about favorite ice cream flavors, enter a short abbreviation on the left hand side, such as choc, strawb, vanilla, and the full text that respondents will see on the Full text column, such as Chocolate Champagne, Strawberry Smooth, Vintage Vanilla. Database columns will be named using the name of the question. For example, if a question is named "need_improvement", then the column names will be need_improvement_choc,  need_improvement_strawb. need_improvement_vanilla (this is the reason for keeping the values short). Values must be made up only of letters, numbers and underscore (_).

Questions of type Drop-down menu include an additional field for entering the text to show in the drop down. By default, this text is "Choose one". For example:


When the questionnaire is presented, the menu will be:


In addition to specifying each value in a drop down field, the contents of a drop down menu can be set dynamically for each respondent based on previous answers or on database lookups. See Dynamic Drop downs.

Additional fields


Some question types use an "Other" option, which adds an extra button and a text field for entering other values, using a caption. The caption must be entered explicitly. For screen readers for the visually impaired, add a label for the reader to read by using a | before the reader text: Other|Enter other value. The reader field is not visible and is only read by screen readers.

Radio buttons also allow a "None" option, which adds an extra button with a caption; when a respondent select None, a blank value is entered as a response.

The "Present answers in random order" box, displays the answers to different respondents in a random pattern.

The "Response Required" box will require the respondent to make a choice in a multiple-choice question, or enter data in a text field before proceeding. If they do not, the entry will be rejected, as described in Data Validation.

Check "Don't number this question", present only when using question numbering, to avoid giving a number to this question. Question numbering will resume with the next question that doesn't have this box checked.

Extra fields are explained below.

Other question types do not present the Answers field.

A Text Field question can adjust its width, the maximum number of characters accepted, and a range of acceptable values:

A Text Area question can adjust its width, its height, and the maximum number of characters entered in the box. A safe limit is 2000, which is accepted by all databases.  See Options / Save for additional information on how to capture very large text fields.

Questions of type Comment provide a way to enter a note about how the questionnaire is constructed, about the questionnaire content, or anything else. A comment is only visible to the questionnaire designer and is never seen by respondents.

Questions of type HTML allow entering text and optionally HTML. This can be used for many advanced applications, including Question Piping, and for visual effects, such as a horizontal rule, created by entering <hr>. The HTML Editor is very useful for these kinds of questions..

Questions of type Hidden field are used to store information gathered by pre-populating fields, by calculations made using the Script action, and by values retrieved from a database using the SQLSelect action.  They can also be set to a value by opening the Answers box with the Edit Answers link that appears below the Submit button, and entering a default value in the first line, like this: value* or like this: A multi word value*|

Questions of type Action specify special processing, such as calculations and complex branching. See Actions for a full explanation of this very powerful capability.

After completing the fields in the form, press Submit to create or revise the question.

Advanced features

Extra fields
When a question of type radio button, check box or drop down menu is created, it is possible to specify a number of Extra fields for each value at the bottom of the page:


After entering a number, press Submit and an Answers box contains extra fields that can be filled out, like this:

Extra editor
In this example, the extra values are used to specify an image that will be shown next to each answer.  Other uses are speciying audio or video files for playback, and in general for associating an extra data item with each value. To use Extra values, a specialized Question or Form Style must be used.
Extra values are also useful for identifying correct and incorrect answers in tests and quizzes. Extra values can also be used with Question Piping.

Uploading answers
If there are a lot of values to insert as answers, such as a list of department codes, this option can be used to set values, full text, and the content of extra fields by uploading a comma delimited file. The file should contain the fields in that order, separated by commas. Each field should be surrounded by double quotes. To use a double quote inside a field, use two double quotes:
"1","Poor ""man"" of La Mancha "
Instead of entering answers and values in the Answers box, press Upload Answers, browse to the file, and press Upload. To upload answers with Extra fields, specify how many extra fields to use and press Upload Answers without pressing Submit.
The upload answers button and extra fields are only presented when a question is being created. 

In addition to specifying each value in a drop down field, the contents of a drop down menu can be set dynamically for each respondent based on previous answers or on database lookups. See Dynamic Drop downs.

Next: List Editor