Survey Format: A Guide To Best Survey Formats


Survey Format: guide to best survey format Population Pyramid
Table of Contents

In today’s data-driven world, surveys are an essential tool for gathering information from a target market to make informed decisions. The effectiveness of your survey lies in the quality of the gathered data, and the survey format plays a crucial role in ensuring that the collected data is accurate, reliable, and useful. 

The importance of a well-designed survey format cannot be overstated, as it significantly impacts the reliability of the data you gather.

In this blog, we will discuss what is a good format for your surveys and how to ensure a good format.

What is a good survey format?

A survey format refers to the structure and design of your questionnaire used to gather feedback from the target audience. It includes the order of questions, response options, skip patterns, and any other survey elements that help to elicit accurate and useful data. The format can vary depending on your research objectives, target audience, and research method (online, phone, in-person). 

A good survey format is crucial for ensuring that your survey is easy to understand, unbiased, and generates valuable data to draw meaningful insights.

Clarity: The questions should be clear and easy to understand. Avoid using jargon or complex language that may be confusing for respondents.

Relevance: The questions should be directly relevant to the research objective and the information you are trying to gather.

Conciseness: Keep the survey as short as possible while still gathering the necessary information. Long surveys can lead to fatigue and decreased response rates.

Response options: Choose response options that are appropriate for the question being asked. For example, multiple-choice questions are best for closed-ended questions that have a limited number of possible answers, while open-ended questions are best for gathering more detailed information.

Flexibility: The survey should be flexible enough to allow for follow-up questions or clarification if needed.

In general, a good format for a survey questionnaire is well-designed, easy to understand, and complete. It allows you to gather the information you need to answer your research question.

Related read: 9 Mistakes to avoid while adding survey questions.

Read how Voxco helped Coyne Research boost productivity by 100% using Voxco Online.

What are the ways to format your survey?

Here are the two ways of formatting your survey;

  1. Classic (All questions together): Display all your survey questions on a single page. Respondents can scroll on their mobile devices to move between questions.
  2. One question at a time: Unlike the survey format above, this format allows you to display one question at a time. This means the survey automatically advances to the next question when a respondent answers the first.

What are the three C’s of survey format?

When creating a survey, keep the three C’s in mind, as mentioned: clear, concise, and communicative. These are the primary factors that influence questionnaire format for surveys and help distinguish between good and truly great surveys.

1. Survey format should be clear

A clear format ensures that the respondent knows the purpose of your survey. The questions should be clearly written and in proper order, so they don’t feel confused when answering. 

To see if your survey is clear enough, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are the questions easy to comprehend?
  • Do the questions elicit precise answers?
  • Will your participants grasp the significance of each?

Participants are more likely to lose focus and leave your survey if the questions appear random or out of place.

2. Survey format should be concise

It is another important factor in the survey format. Respondents tend to avoid surveys that appear to be lengthy and time-consuming.

These four questions will help you determine whether your survey is concise:

  • How long will your survey last?
  • Is it the ideal length for a survey?
  • Are your questions phrased succinctly and only asked once (rather than repeated or in multiple ways)?

Pay close attention to these details because survey length is one of the most important factors influencing the survey completion rate.

3. Survey format should be communicative

You also want your survey to convey your desired message. As a result, your results will be meaningful and relevant to your goals.

Here are a few questions to ask to ensure that your survey design is communicative:

  • Will the questions assist you in achieving your main goal?
  • Is each one important in producing meaningful insights?
  • Is there anything that is irrelevant or may distract participants?
  • Your survey should only include necessary questions, so making the right choice is critical.

The Three C’s of the format of the survey will significantly improve the quality of your survey. Leverage robust online survey tools to ensure a well-crafted survey and engage respondents to elicit reliable responses. 

Additional read: How to write survey questions?

What is the significance of the survey format?

To obtain the most accurate data, you must understand the significance of survey format and design. Respondents may misinterpret your intentions and give you incorrect answers if you do not use proper order and wording. You may not realize it, but you may be introducing your own biases into the equation when creating survey questions. These are just a few of the potential consequences to consider when formatting your survey.

1. Wrong wording can be misunderstood

You must have the proper wording in the proper order to be clear about the type of data you are attempting to receive. Make your questions as direct as possible and as brief as possible. Your goal should be to figure out the best way to string words together to get the most accurate results in the shortest amount of time.

2. Uncertain questions lead to uncertain outcomes

Do not underplay your questions for your respondent to respond as quickly and as painlessly as possible. If your wording is too perplexing, you may collect inaccurate data, rendering your survey useless. Keep in mind that there are two types of questions: structured (fixed response) and textual  (open).

Because you will be providing respondents with a limited set of responses, structured questions can help you collect data as quickly as possible. All they have to do is circle the answers to which they can most easily relate.

3. Avoid personal questions

To avoid invading your respondents’ privacy, consider whether their personal information is required for your research. If it is, there are a few things you should keep in mind to avoid invasive personal questions in your survey. Consider giving them fixed responses that they can simply check off. These can be useful for gathering demographic information such as age, race, and income level.

See how you can create interactive surveys to gather valuable data and uncover actionable insights.

100+languages, advanced logic, white-labeling, 100+ question types, and more. 

How do you make an effective survey format?

Here are some ways you can ensure an effective survey format for your research. 

1. The cover page

Including a cover page on your survey questionnaire boosts motivation and willingness to participate. The survey cover can immediately connect respondents to the survey and make them feel important in making the survey a success.

The following information should be included on the cover:

  • The survey or study’s title
  • A short summary of the survey’s purpose.
  • Instructions
  • Your brand name

The cover and thank you page should be simple to give the impression that the survey is being conducted professionally. Colored covers, on the other hand, increase response rates by 2% to 4%.

2. Instructions page

Explain the survey’s purpose in greater detail on this page. Give the respondent brief and specific instructions on how to answer the questions. Also, inform the respondent of the survey’s length or time it will take to complete the survey.

Furthermore, inform the respondent about confidentiality and provide contact information for the respondent to call if they have any problems or comments about the survey questionnaire.

3. Proper questionnaire

The order of questions should be considered when designing the survey format. The questions should be arranged in descending order from general to specific. The very first question should be general but relevant to the survey’s goals or purpose so that the respondent is not intimidated but rather gradually engages with the questionnaire. Being “general” implies that the first question should apply to all respondents and be simple to answer in a few seconds.

The questions should be organized into groups based on their content. This assists the respondents in organizing their thoughts and reactions, resulting in a more accurate answer to the questions. In terms of appearance, the questions should be consistent in terms of font style and font size.

4. The navigational path

In a survey, the navigational path simply refers to the path that respondents should take when answering the questionnaire. Navigational paths are classified into four types: verbal, numerical, symbolic, or graphical. Here are some examples of each:

  • Verbal (e.g. Skip to No. 12; Proceed to the Next Page) (e.g. Skip to No. 12; Proceed to the Next Page)
  • Numeric (for example, Page 1, 2, 3…)
  • Symbolic (for example, and other arrows)

Keep in mind that the navigational path you use should be consistent across all pages of the questionnaire.

5. Survey length

The length of the survey, according to Dillman (2000), varies depending on three factors relating to the respondent: his sense of commitment, interest, and sense of responsibility in completing the survey. Keep the questions as short as possible to keep these three levels at their highest.

Gather customer insights to elevate the customer experience. Use Voxco Insights!

Trusted by 500 global brands & top 50 MR firms.

6. Thank you note

When participants have offered their time and insights to assist you, you should include a thank you message.

Apart from expressing gratitude for their assistance, it should also provide something positive for them to take away, as you may require their assistance again in the future. This could include a promise to contact them again with a link to your survey report findings and an action plan for how you will use their feedback once you have collected and analyzed all of your survey results.

7. Exit URL

The Voxco survey tool allows you to include the URL of the exit survey. These URLs will direct respondents to a specific web, such as your product page or website, related to what they’ve just answered. This can provide additional opportunities to engage, communicate, and sell to them. It is used by researchers as a marketing opportunity to increase engagement and market products or services to respondents.

With survey software like ours, a survey completion redirect is as simple as checking a box to enable the automatic redirect function and entering the address you want it to redirect to in the URL box.

8. Put your survey to the test

You should test your survey after you’ve designed it before sending it to target respondents. You want to ensure that the survey is effective and will collect the data you require.

A test runs on a small sample size or internal employees can assist your team in catching overlooked errors. Having someone else look over the survey will ensure that there are no missing questions, misspelled words, or biased wording that you may have overlooked.

It is preferable to identify these issues now rather than after the survey has been distributed.


Making a research study more engaging and appealing requires using a survey format. The survey format provides valuable feedback that is critical to the organization. So make sure that the format you use is clear and concise.

You can use Voxco to create engaging surveys to involve more participants.

Join the network of 500+ happy survey creators.

Explore all the survey question types
possible on Voxco

Read more

Population Pyramids

Population Pyramids: A Window into Demographic Evolution SHARE THE ARTICLE ON Table of Contents The population pyramid depicts the gender and age split of the

Read More »
Survey Format: guide to best survey format Population Pyramid

Customer Journey Map

Customer Journey Map See what question types are possible with a sample survey! Try a Sample Survey hbspt.cta.load(20114445, ‘503a2c0e-c3ff-4086-ab75-2bdd730a005b’, {“region”:”na1″}); Table of Contents Customer Journey

Read More »
What is Market Segmentation1

What is Market Segmentation?

Conducting research studies can be intense! Surveys, analytics, data verification, and monitoring. One of the most rewarding parts of research is when you get to showcase your survey results to your stakeholders.

Read More »