There are lots of free survey and polling sites (two popular options are PollDaddy and Survey Monkey), but often they limit the number of surveys you can create or how many questions you can include without ‘leveling up’ to a premium version. Among the writers I know who are always looking for ways to save their limited pennies, Google Forms is a run-away favorite. I use it for my book launches and anything else that requires data collection. It is intuitive, flexible, professional, can be adapted to specific colors and images, and can be shared as a link or an embed. And there are many options that personalize the form.
Using available templates, a customized form can be completed in under five minutes. Responses are collected to a Google Spreadsheet (which is part of the same free Google Drive that includes Google Forms) that can be private or shared with participants and can be sorted and analyzed like any other spreadsheet.
Google Forms is simple to use. Just follow these steps:
- Open through your Google Drive (part of every free Gmail account), select ‘New’ and then ‘Forms’. Alternatively: Go directly to the Google Forms site.
- If you get there through your Google Drive (New>Google Forms), you start with a generic form, much like the blank slides and docs you get in other Google Apps. If you get there through the Google Forms site, you’ll find six templates at the top of the page covering a variety of projects from an RSVP to data gathering. Select your choice and it will populate the template.
- On the right side of the form are formatting options, from background and images to adding video and additional questions.
- On the upper right are options for changing colors, previewing, and set-up.
- Edit form title, questions, descriptions, and answers by clicking in the field.
- When you edit a question, you get nine options for how you want the question answered–everything from short answer to multiple choice to other popular options. Some will require input on the questions (such as multiple choice). Complete those.
- Indicate whether this is a required question using the slider button at the bottom right.
- Drag-drop questions as needed to rearrange the form.
- Any form question can be duplicated and then edited.
- When you’re done, share the form by embedding it into a blog or website, or by sending out the link.
- Track answers using the Response tab at the top of the form. This will populate as people return the form.
Here’s a video on how to use Google Forms.
How to use Google Forms in your writing
Here are my top five favorites:
Create an assessment for a writing class you teach
This can be a rubric, multiple choice, short answer, or other options. It can be based on information the student has prepared or something you shared in class (for example: You showed an image and ask students to select the right answer using the form’s ‘multiple choice grid’ option). Google will even grade the form for you, share results, and provide answer hints so they understand why the correct answer is the right choice.
Create request lists for your materials
This could be to request for a Review Copy or ARC (Advance Review Copy) of your latest novel, your appearance at a reading, or to find beta readers. The entire process is done online. The interested party fills out the Google Forms request form and you’re notified via email of the request.
Collect sign-ups for your blog hop
Interested people answer a series of questions about how they’d like to participate and when.
Use Google Forms to collect any activity that benefits from an RSVP response.
Collect data for your newsletter
Use Forms to collect data about newsletter subscribers or anything else associated with your writing activities.
Here are examples of forms I created with this amazing program:
–first published on TeachHUB
More on Google:
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, and the thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.