Using web forms in Google Drive

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This tip is excerpted from Google Drive & Docs In 30 Minutes by Ian Lamont, part of the In 30 Minutes™ family of technology guides.

Web Forms are one of the lesser-known features of Google Drive. It's unfortunate, because the forms can really improve the way data is gathered from groups of people. Think about it. Instead of manually entering data, or copying and pasting from email replies, you can make a simple form or survey, post it on the Web and let other people do the work for you!

Web Forms are closely integrated with Google Sheets, the free spreadsheet program that is included with Google Drive. Once a form has been created, it can be accessed via a Google link that you can email or post on a social network. The form can also be embedded on a blog or company Web page. The data from the form feeds directly into a spreadsheet, which is only visible to you and designated collaborators.

How to creat a web form

1. You can either use an existing spreadsheet (open Google Sheets, and select Tools>Create A Form) or make a new Form from Google Drive's main screen by pressing the Create button.

2. The Edit Form pop-up window appears.

Edit Form in Google Drive

3. Enter the title and description of the form at the top of the form builder.

4. Make it clear to people who will receive the form what it's about. Confusion will result in fewer people who complete the form and/or more unusable data.

5. Add a question using the Add Item button. There are more than a half-dozen types of questions that can be used.

* Text. A one-line text field.

* Paragraph Text. Allows for longer answers.

* Multiple Choice. Have a multiple-choice question, with as many possible answers as you want.

* Checkboxes. People can check off one or more items from a list.
* Choose From A List. Creates a drop-down menu.

* Scale. Users choose a number from 1 to 10, or any other number combination you choose.

* Grid. Users fill in data according to a table.

When you're finished building the form, the link to access the form can be found at the bottom of the page (look for the link that says, "You can view the published form here").

Note that this link is public. You can control its circulation by only sharing the link with selected people or by embedding it in a Web page (choose More Actions>Embed).

Data entered into the Web form will be immediately added to a corresponding spreadsheet. Sheets also adds a timestamp for each submission.

Data from the form can be formatted, sorted, filtered and otherwise manipulated using the same methods described in Chapter 3 of Google Drive & Docs In 30 Minutes.

Ian Lamont is the author of Google Drive & Docs In 30 Minutes. For additional tips and videos on how to get the most out of Google Drive, visit the official book website for the Google Drive guide.

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