Survey Builder User's Guide

by Sheila Brennan

These instructions will guide you through the Center for History and New Media's Survey Builder application. Survey Builder allows you to easily create and manage online surveys suitable for Internet-based oral history projects, course evaluations, and other endeavors that involve collecting feedback. You do not need to know how to build a Web page that has forms, set up a database to store entries, or do any of the other technical tasks that are normally required to produce interactivity on the Internet. Survey Builder will take care of all of these elements for you.

After you create your survey using its built-in editor, Survey Builder generates a unique Web page (hosted on the Center for History and New Media's site) that shows the survey and allows people to fill it out and submit it online. You can then direct prospective survey participants to your questionnaire by creating a link to your survey from an existing Web site (or sites), by emailing the link to potential survey participants, or by publishing the link in paper fliers, post cards, newspaper advertisements, etc. After contributors fill out your questionnaire, you can choose to post their responses on a Web page devoted specifically to your survey. Survey Builder also allows you to view and organize your surveys, and even export the survey responses into a database worksheet, like Excel, for tabulation and analysis.

Survey Builder has two parts: the Survey Editor and the Survey Manager. You will use the former to create and edit your surveys, and you will use the latter to view, organize, and modify preferences for your surveys and responses.

Creating an Account

Before starting a survey, first create an account. This allows you to protect and manage your surveys and other CHNM tool applications.

  1. First, you must complete a short online form. Part of that form asks you to create a username and password. Usernames must consist of lowercase letters and numbers only, with no spaces.
  2. After logging in, you will arrive at your personal Tools page. Any other CHNM tools that you use in the future will be accessible from this page as well.

Below is my Tools homepage, where I can access the Scrapbook, Poll Builder, and Survey Builder.

Survey Builder Overview

After signing into your account, click on Manage Your Surveys. You will also notice another link to this Guide to refresh your memory about the application from the Tools homepage. The next page offers you two columns. The left column prompts you to name and create a new survey. The right column displays your current collection of surveys that you may edit, delete, add to, or manipulate.

Creating a Survey

In the left column, name your survey “Test” and click on the button “Create a new survey.” “Test” will appear in the right column under the title “Your Surveys.” Anytime you create a survey, you may save it here in an active or inactive state for as long as you want. Surveys are saved in the order they were created.

Managing Your Survey

Once created, this is what your survey will look like from the main access page. Each function is explained below (note: the numbers are for explanation only and do not appear when you manage your survey).

If you would rather skip this detailed explanation, jump to Creating Your Survey.
  1. The title of your survey appears at the top in bold.
  2. Manage responses allows you to review the answers to your survey.
  3. Edit takes you to the Survey Editor function where you build your
  4. survey with questions, images, and text. A more detailed explanation will follow.
  5. Delete will delete your entire survey in one click.
    Note: If you have a sensitive mouse or touch pad, tread lightly near the Delete button.
  6. If you want to copy the entire survey, say for more than one section of a course, click Duplicate. You may save the same survey under a different name, or also manipulate it just as you would with another survey.
  7. Rename allows you to easily rename the survey, without creating a new survey or link.
  8. When you are ready to go live with your survey, click Activate and the link (13) will be accessible to anyone with the address. When you want to stop participants from responding, click Deactivate.
  9. This reports how many survey responses have been received.
  10. Decide whether to allow the survey responses to be posted publicly on this website.
  11. If you want each survey response emailed to you directly, click Yes. No is the default. All responses are available to you through the Survey Manager.
  12. Click Yes if you want each survey participant to receive an email with their full response. No is the default for this function as well.
  13. When the survey is complete, if you want your responses exported to a database file, click on the tab-delimited function. This will be discussed further.
  14. This line offers the direct link to your survey. This link may be posted to a website or email, or published in a flier.
  15. If you choose to display the responses to the public, you have two choices: advanced or basic. Basic: Generates a laundry list of each survey with responses in order that they were submitted. Advanced: Highlights the responses to the first question, then allows you to look at all responses to a given question one after the other.
  16. This link is the Web address of the responses page.
  17. The field next to “Title at the top of public pages” allows you to type in the title that will appear on the top of the survey and survey response pages.
  18. The field next to “Upload image at top of public pages” allows you to choose an image, generally a logo or project identifier, to go at the top of the survey and survey responses pages.


Creating Your Survey

Clicking on Edit in the Survey Manager takes you to the space where you create and edit the survey questions, images, and text.

The left column of the Survey Editor acts as your command console: it contains the tools you will use to format and create the content of your survey. The right side of your screen functions as a draft of your survey: the designing and editing you do on the left side will show up on the right as it will appear on your actual questionnaire.

The left-side commands give you the capability to:

  • Add survey questions with a choice of response fields that will accommodate text and multiple-choice answers, uploaded images, and uploaded files;
  • Insert in your survey three different sizes of text;
  • Upload JPEG or GIF logos or pictures into your survey;
  • Include in your survey special preformatted fields to collect personal data from participants.

This section will take you step-by-step through the process of putting together a survey. Remember that you do not have to build your survey in any particular order and that at any point-even after your survey is live and receiving responses-you can go back and make changes.

Inserting Questions

Step 1: Select placement of the new item.

  1. If this is NOT your first addition to the survey, use the drop-down menu under “ Add ” to choose the placement of your question.

Step 2: Choose one of the following:

“ Add this question ”

  1. Type your question in the open box.
  2. Use the drop-down menu below the question field to choose the type of response field:
    • If you would like respondents to type directly into the response field, choose a text input box. The large, medium, small, and tiny text input boxes will all accommodate more characters than will visually fit in the space of the box; in other words, your respondents can scroll up and down within the text boxes. The different sized text boxes suggest to respondents how much you expect them to write.
    • If you want respondents to review choices, choose multiple-choice using radio buttons.
    • Once added to the survey, you must then edit the multiple-choice question to add your answers.
    • Click on the edit button next to the question once it appears in the right column. The console opens allowing you to enter the multiple-choice answers in the box provided, each on a new line.
    • Click Save Changes, and your multiple-choice question with answers will appear in the right column.
    • If you would like respondents to upload images, choose “with an upload box for images.” This field will accept GIF, JPEG, PNG, TIFF, PSD, and BMP files.
    • If you would like respondents to upload any other type of file, for example a PowerPoint presentation or a PDF file, choose “with an upload box for files.”
  3. You may choose to require respondents to answer a question or make it optional. If you require the question, respondents must answer this question before submitting it and finishing the survey.
  4. Decide whether to display the answers to this question on public pages or to give the respondents the choice of showing their answers.
  5. Click on "Make this addition," and the question will appear in the right column.

“ Add This Text”

At any point you can insert a title, instructions, or any other text element into your survey:

  1. Go to the "Add this text:" field.
  2. Use the pull down menu below the text field to choose the text size: Normal, Large, or Extra Largeand type your text.
  3. If this is NOT your first addition to the survey, use the drop-down menu in Step 1 to choose the placement of your text.
  4. Click on “Make this addition,” and the text will appear in the survey in the right column.

“Add personal information field”

In addition to soliciting answers to your survey questions, you may also want to collect data about your survey participants themselves, such as their name, email address, telephone number, or address. The Survey Editor has several built-in personal information fields that can be added to your survey.

If you plan to collect personal information, it is very important that you use the preformatted personal information fields instead of creating personal inquiries with the regular “question” tool. Here's the reason: if you post a survey respondent’s answers on the Web, you cannot choose which questions get posted and which do not. If you elect to post an individual’s responses, all the respondent’s answers to your survey questions will automatically go on the Web, and all the respondent’s answers to the preformatted personal information fields will stay private.

  1. Go to the "Add personal information" field and choose a drop-down menu item.
  2. On the drop-down menu to the right, choose whether you want the field to be optional or required.
  3. If this is NOT your first addition to the survey, use the drop-down menu in “Step 1” to choose the placement of your personal information inquiry.
  4. Click on “Make this addition,” and it will appear in the right column.

“Add this Image”

At any point you can insert an image into your survey.

  1. Go to the “Add this image” field and browse for the image you wish to add from the files on your computer.
  2. If this is NOT your first addition to the survey, use the pull down menu in “Step 1” to choose the placement of your image.
  3. Click on “Make this addition,” and the image will appear in the right column.
  4. Note: Images, like other additions, cannot be centered and will appear on the left of your survey.


Editing and Deleting Questions

You will see your survey build in the right column of the Survey Editor. If you realize you want to change an aspect of your survey—perhaps you have found a typo, or maybe you would like a bigger text input box under one of your questions—click on the , or edit symbol, to the right of the question, text, or image. This will re-open the question in the left column and allow you edit the question, text, or image. Click Save Changes when finished.

To delete a question click , the delete image, and your question will disappear immediately.


To exit the Survey Editor, click “Return to Survey Manager” in the heading. You may also logout or exit to the Tools Homepage.

Exporting Survey Data

In the Survey Manager, you have the choice to export responses in a tab-delimited format. This is a text-based format that most database programs can read and interpret easily.

  1. Click delimited (number 12 in the diagram), and you will be prompted to open the file or save it. Save it wherever it is most convenient, for example on your desktop.
  2. The file will be saved as a .txt file, unless you designate a different
  3. Open the file in the database program of your choice, such as Excel. You will see that each response will have its own row containing the answers to all of your questions in separate columns.
  4. Double check the exported data in your database program to ensure that the answers line up in the proper column. Occasionally if responders do not answer each question in the survey the exported data will bunch together, so you will have to adjust for that in the database program you use.

Good luck and feel free to email Josh Greenburg at the Center for History and New Media if you notice technical problems with the program.