How to Create a Google Docs Form

Make your own forms for anything you need

Businessman signing documents
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Google Forms is part of Google G-Suite set of online tools. It's a fast and easy way to obtain a lot of information from a lot of people. Great uses of a form could be for building a neighborhood contact list or organizing an event. With some simple tweaks, teachers can even create quizzes on recent material.

Because Forms is part of Google’s suite of software, it's completely free to use.

Starting a Google Form

While it was once an option in Google Sheets, Forms is its own tool now, but you can still access it inside Docs, Sheets, and Slides.

Here are the different ways you can access Google Forms:

  • Visit docs.google.com/forms and select Blank or one of the templates.
  • From Docs, Sheets, or Slides go to File > New > Form (blank option only)
  • From Sheets go to Tools > Create a Form to automatically link it to a spreadsheet

You can edit a template just as you would a blank form; it’s just a starting point.

At the top of each Form are tabs for Questions and Responses. On the Questions tab, you can give your form a name and description, or more likely, instructions about how to proceed. Responses are stored on the Responses tab, naturally, but you can also have them automatically added to a spreadsheet (see below).

Sidebar in Google Forms

On the Responses tab you can also toggle off Accepting responses, and add a message for users who click attempt to fill out the form. You can also opt into email notifications for new responses, download a CSV file, print, and delete all responses. 

Palette and Eye icons, as well as side panel in Google Forms

There are few options to customize the design of your form: theme color, background color, and font. You can also add images and hover text as well as YouTube videos to this area. To access these settings, click the palette icon at the top of the page.

Next to the palette are preview and settings. You can preview the form, and answer each question to make sure everything’s working OK. Settings include whether you’ll collect email addresses and if respondents can submit more than once, which you might want if you’re using the form to capture ideas, for example. You can also make the form a quiz which allows auto-grading if you add an answer key, which is discussed below..

Google Form Response Format Options

You can customize the format of responses you receive in many ways. A blank form contains one question and you can add more by clicking the plus symbol on the right. The default is multiple choice, but there’s also short answer, paragraph, checkboxes, dropdown, scales, grids, date or time, and file upload. These options make Google Forms quite versatile. In addition to quizzes, you can use it for applications, homework submission, contests, and much more.

Google Forms question format options.

Once you choose the answer type, you can further customize it, inputting multiple choice or dropdown options, adding “other” as an option, and enabling or disabling multiple answers. As you add more questions, you can duplicate your work if you’re planning to ask a question with similar choices. For example, “What is your favorite food?” followed by “What is your least favorite food?”

For all questions, you can decide whether an answer is required or not.

Adding Sections to a Google Form

For a contact form or short survey, one page is probably fine, but if you have a longer questionnaire, you’ll want to divide it into sections so as not to overwhelm the recipients. Click the button on the right under the YouTube symbol to add a section. Each section can have a separate title and description/instructions.

Section marker in Google Forms

You can drag and drop questions between sections as needed, which is convenient, as well as duplicate sections. Tap the three-dot menu on the top right, then Duplicate Section. The menu also includes Move section, Delete section, and Merge with above, if you change your mind.

Adding Follow-Up Questions

There are times when you might want to ask questions based on previous responses. For example, if you ask true or false question and want an explanation if the respondent enters false. To do this you’ll add a section with a multiple choice or dropdown response. Tap the three-dot menu at the bottom right and select Go to section based on answer.

Go to section based on answer option in Google Forms

For each option, you can send the respondent to the next section, or any other section in your form, or skip right to Submit form to end that respondent’s participation.

Store Responses in Spreadsheet

For all forms, you can opt to store the answers in a Google spreadsheet so you can organize and manipulate the data. You can either create the form from Google Sheets as described above or link it to a spreadsheet in settings.

From Sheets go to Tools > Create a Form. Otherwise, go to the Responses tab of your Form. Click the green icon on the right to Create Spreadsheet. Then you can either create a new spreadsheet or select an existing one. Click Create or Select to proceed. By default, a new spreadsheet will have a column for each question you’ve created and a timestamp one that shows when the response was input. As you create more questions or edit existing ones, the spreadsheet will update.

Green sheet symbol in Google Forms

If you linked your form to an existing spreadsheet, a responses tab will be added to it.

Share and Send the Form

You can share Google Forms with others if it’s a group effort. Go to the three-dot-menu > Add Collaborators > then input email addresses or copy the sharing link.

When the form is to your liking, check the settings before you send it out. You can limit users to one response, allow them to edit their response after submitting it, link to the results if you’re doing a poll, and change the confirmation message after someone submits their responses.

You can send and share a form with potential respondents in a variety of ways. Start by clicking Send at the top of the page.

Send via options in Google Forms
  • Via email: Click the envelope icon and input the recipient email addresses, subject, and message.
  • Sharing the link: Click the link icon to copy the link to the form. You can also get a shortened form of the URL that starts with goo.gl/forms.
  • Posting it on social media: Click the Google Plus, Facebook or Twitter icon on the right.
  • Embedding it on a website: Click the greater than/less than symbols to copy the HTML code. You can also adjust the width and height of the form.

Building a Quiz With an Answer Key

Google Forms are a good tool for quizzes since you can input the correct answers and assign point values. Your students can then get instant feedback and you don’t have to go through a stack of papers. Alternately, you can delay sending out the results and review any questions that don’t have a definitive answer, such as one with a short answer or paragraph response format.

Google Forms answer key for quiz about U.S. capitals

Once you’ve collected all the responses, you can see the average and median grades for the group. You can also view each question to see how many got it right vs. wrong.