25 Microsoft Forms Tips and Tricks

2021-09-21

Microsoft Forms gives users the power to easily create questionnaires, surveys, polls, and quizzes. These can be sent out by invitation to other users to complete the form. A web browser can be used for this, or any device on a computer.

The results can be instantly reviewed and by downloading into an application such as Excel, the results can be reviewed and analyzed.

Microsoft Forms is available for Office 365 Business Essentials, and Office 365 Enterprise users.

https://forms.office.com/

You can login from the above URL using your Microsoft ID and password.

Here are the top 25 tips and tricks.

Explore the Forms Home Screen

Microsoft Forms is a web-based application, and does not have a ribbon showing all the usual options, as many other Microsoft applications do.  Your Forms home screen will look like above.

This will give you an overall view of options to:

  1. Create a New Form.
  2. Create a New Quiz.
  3. Use a pre made template.
  4. It will also show the Recent forms that you have designed.
  5. If you have a large number of forms, then you can use the filter control to list only the ones that you are interested in.  Type in your search text and all forms matching this criterion will be shown.  It effectively includes wildcards, so that in this example, you enter the word first and press Return, it will find the form MyFirstForm.
  6. The control to the right of the filter box has a drop down that allows you to view the recent forms either as tiles or as a text list.

Remove a Form from the Recent Forms List

If your list of forms is becoming extensive, you may wish to remove some of the redundant forms from the list.

You can do this by right clicking on the form tile or list name.  This will show a pop-up menu. Select Remove from list.

Copy a Form from Recent Forms

You may have a form already prepared which you want to use as the basis for a new form. Instead of preparing the new form from scratch, you can copy a form and then edit it to your new requirements.

Right click on the source form and then select Copy from the pop-up menu. Press F5 to refresh the browser and you will see a new copy of your existing form in the list.

The name will be the same as before, but with a numeric to distinguish it.  You can edit the name when you open the form, but it must be unique within the list.

Pin a Form

Again, if you have a large number of forms in your list, you may wish to use the Pinning feature to create a sub list of particular forms, so that they can be easily accessed.

The form will still remain within the recent list, but will now be in the Pinned list as well.

Right click on the source form and then select Add to pinned from the pop-up menu.

Click on Pinned to the right of Recent and you will see your pinned form.

To remove it from the Pinned list, right click on the form, and then click on Remove from pinned.

Create a New Form

At the top of the Forms window, you have various options to create a new form. You can create a new form or a new quiz, or you can use one of the many pre-set templates that are available.

Click on New Form and this will start an untitled form. The form is called Untitled form by default, but this needs changing immediately in order to provide a reference within the list of forms.

If you do not do this, then you will end up with a long list of untitled forms and it will be difficult to work out what they do.

Click on the text of Untitled Form and you can then edit the title and also enter a description.

Changes are automatically saved off into the cloud, and your new form will automatically appear in the list of recent forms in the opening screen. Bear in mind that as soon as you make a change, this is will be saved.

Add Questions to Your Form

Select Text from the boxed menu shown when you click on Add new.

  1. This will display an input box for you to enter your question text.
  2. If you want to allow a multi-line answer box, then turn the on the toggle for Long answer, otherwise keep this toggle off. Whatever you choose, the text limit is 4,000 characters.
  3. You can also set whether the question requires an answer by turning the Required toggle on.

Clicking on Preview at the top of the page will show you what your form will look like, both on a computer and on a mobile device.

Additional questions can be added by clicking the Add New button.

Add a Theme to Your Form

You can make your form look more interesting to the user by adding a theme to it.

Click on Theme at the top of the form page, and a navigation pane will appear displaying various themes.  Select a theme and then click on Theme again to close the navigation pane.

Click on Preview and you will see a view of what your form now looks like.

View Responses to Your Form

By clicking on the Responses tab on your form, you can view and analyse all the users’ responses to your form.

This will provide real-time metrics on how information is being collected on your form. It will tell you how many responses you have had, average time that they took to complete your questionnaire, and what the latest response was.

You can instantly see how well your form is doing.

Export and Analyze Responses in Excel

As you receive more and more responses to your form, you will want to see more than just the summary data shown on the Responses tab. You can do this by clicking on the Open in Excel button on the Responses tab.

This will automatically download an Excel spreadsheet of all the data that users have input into your form.

This file will appear at the bottom of your browser window.  Double click on the file to open it in Excel.

This will open in Protected Mode, but you can enable editing by clicking on the Enable Editing button.

The response data will show as a table, complete with filter buttons. If there is a large number of responses, you can easily use the data to drive charts or pivot tables.

Once it is downloaded into Excel, the possibilities of analysis are endless.

View all the Response Results in the Browser

Click on View Results button in the Responses tab, and a new window will open allowing you to scroll from side to side through all the results.

By clicking on the three dots symbol, you can delete the response or print the response.

Distributing Your Form with Email

Click on the Send button at the top of the form, and a navigation pane will open on the right-hand side of the browser window.

This will display a link to your form. This link may look complicated to a user, and it is best to tick the box for Shorten URL so that it looks more meaningful.

Click on the Copy button, and the URL is now captured onto the clipboard, ready to paste into an email. Regardless of what email system that you are using, the URL will always direct the user straight to your form.

You can also click on the email icon below the URL.  This will give you a choice of which email system to open, and will create a basic email containing a link to the form.

Distributing your Form with Facebook or Twitter

Click on the Send button and open the navigation pane. You will see icons for Facebook and Twitter.  Click on either of these and you will be prompted to login. A post will then be produced with your form.

The form is interactive and users’ responses are instantly logged on your form.

Other Distribution Methods for your Form

On the Send navigation pane, there are further options for you to use a link, a QR code, or embedded HTML.

These buttons are found below the URL box, and to the left of the Facebook and Twitter icons.

Share Your Form Template

Your recipients may be very impressed with your form construction, and may visualize ways that they can use it for their own purposes.

In the Send navigation pane, you can share your original template by sending your colleague a link to a new copy of the template for your form.

Click on Get a link to duplicate and this will provide a link to a copy of your form.  Existing responses are not included.  Click on Copy and the link is then copied to the clipboard. All that you then have to do is to create a new email to your colleague and paste the link in.

Add an Option Buttons to Your Form

By clicking on the Add new button, you can add in option buttons by selecting Choice on the box menu.

This will provide two option buttons by default.  By clicking on Add new, you can add further option buttons, and edit the narrative for each button.

For example, you could ask users to indicate what fuel their car uses.

You can allow users to give multiple answers or single answers by clicking on the Multiple answers button.

Add a Picture to the Form Heading

You can easily add a relevant picture to the form heading. Click on the heading text and you will go into edit mode.

On the right of the text box is a picture icon. Click on this and you can select a picture, by searching on the internet or uploading a picture of your own.

Click on the desired picture and this will be added to the top of your form.

Add a Rating Question

You can add a rating question, such as “how well am I doing?“, or “what do you think of your car?“.

Click on the Add new button, and select Rating in the box menu that appears.

You can enter a rating question, and enter the number of levels of rating. You have the choice of using stars or numbers for the users to choose from.

Click on the three dots and choose Label on the pop-up menu.

You can then enter text for the extremes of the rating (1 star and 5 star).

Format Text

As you enter text into the various input boxes when you are building the form, you can format the text.  This is nowhere near as comprehensive as in an application like Word, but it does give a number of options.

After you have entered the text into the box, select all the text by dragging your cursor across it. This will display a pop-up menu of formatting options:

  • Bold, Italic and Underscore Font
  • Font Color and Size
  • Numbered or Bullet Points Lists

Only one font type is available. You can use Ctrl + C to copy text from another application, such as Word, and Ctrl + V to paste it into the text box on your form, but font types will not be copied.

You can apply the formatting to a partial selection of the text. For example, you may want to make a specific word bold so that it really stands out. You can do this by dragging your cursor across that word only and then click on the Bold symbol.

Add Sections to Your Form

If your survey is fairly lengthy, you may want to break it up into sections or pages to make it more readable.

Click on the Add new button and the box menu will be displayed. Click on the Down Chevron at the end of the box menu and the select Section in the drop down.

This creates a new page in your form, and you start afresh by entering a new page title and description.

When you preview the form, there will be a Next button at the end of the first page. Clicking this then moves the user to the next section, or page. Choices of Back or Submit are offered at the end of the second section.

Add Conditional Logic Branching

You can use the branching feature to direct the user to different sections from different questions. It needs careful planning of the questions, and planning of the correct route to take to a section.

To enable branching, click on any question, and then click on the three dots (…) in the bottom left-hand corner. Click on Add Branching. This takes you into a Branching options window.

This will provide branching option drop downs for all questions within that section. They are all set to Next by default, but there are options that can be selected to direct the user to another section or the end of the form.

If you make a question optional and the user answers it, then you could then take the user to a different section.

If your branching options have become over complicated, and you want to start again, click on the three dots (…) in the top right-hand corner of the Branching Options window, and there is a reset option.

Multiple choice questions have branching options for each option button, which is very useful to direct the user to the appropriate section based on the choice made.

Add a Ranking to Your Form

You can add a ranking question to your form, such as Which auto maker do you prefer?.

This will allow users to drag and drop the available choices to order them to their preference.

To do this, click on Add new in a section and choose Ranking in the box menu displayed. This will enable you to add a question ( Which auto maker do you prefer? ) and to add options such as Honda, Fiat, and Tesla.

Enable Immersive Reader

Immersive Reader helps people with reading difficulties to view and understand your form. This can be enabled for each section of your form by clicking on the three dots (…) in the title section of the form when in Preview mode.

This will give the option to enable the Immersive Reader. To disable the feature, click on the three dots again, and you will see a disable option.

Use the Back button to move back to design mode and then go back into Preview mode. If you hover your cursor to the left of the three dots on the heading area, you will see an Immersive Reader icon appear.

This will provide full options of listening to the form text instead of reading it, and changing the spacing of letters and background colors.

Create a Date Window for Accepting Responses

You may wish to have a specific date window during which responses can be made. You could also just have a final cut off date after which responses will not be accepted.

This is very useful if you are compiling metrics for a presentation, and you do not want any late data being included.

To do this, click on the three dots (…) in the top right-hand corner of the design window (to the right of the Send button) and choose Settings from the drop down.

Tick the boxes for Start date and End date and select the date using the date picker, and the time this has to happen.

If you only require a cut off date, then only tick the End Date box and select the date and time.

Other Form Settings Options

Settings on a form can be used further to allow customization.

To enter Settings, click on the three dots (…) in the top right-hand corner of the design window (to the right of the Send button) and choose Settings from the drop down.

You can tick the box that allows each user to get an email notification of their response. This is helpful to the user to give them a time and date stamped receipt of when they completed the form.

Ticking Show Progress Bar will show the user how far they have got in completing your form. This is very useful to give the user an idea of how far they have got to go, and how close they are to the end of the form.

Customize thank you message gives you the chance to thank a user for completing your form, and perhaps a message on how their input will help with future planning within the organisation.

Print Your Form

You can print out a hard copy of your form by clicking on the three dots (…) to the right of the Send button and selecting Print Form in the drop down.

This could be useful for anyone who does not have access to a computer or mobile device. You can mail out the hard copy, and then use Preview to enter the response.

Conclusions

Microsoft Forms is an extremely flexible means of collecting information. Anyone can easily create a professional looking form simply by using the user interface.

This can be distributed to recipients in several different ways, and their responses can be recorded and analysed very easily. Everything happens in real time, so there is no chance of any data being left out of the final analysis.

Years ago, specialist programming knowledge would have been required to create a multi user form like this and collect and analyse the results, but using Microsoft Forms, this facility is open to anyone, from the Chief Executive Officer down to an intern.

The application gives tremendous empowerment to anyone. Also, Microsoft are continuously improving this product and adding new features to make it more powerful.

About the Author

Richard Shepherd

Richard Shepherd

Richard Shepherd has had 25 years experience of working with Microsoft Excel. He has used Excel to provide solutions and create applications for major banks and financial institutions. He has written several books on Excel and Access published by McGraw-Hill in the USA.

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