» Step 4. Finalize the survey
Once your have your survey form complete, you will need to protect the form so that it can be used. In general, form controls don't actually work unless the form is protected. Start by clicking Design Mode to turn this off and to return to edit mode. Then, to protect the form, from the Developer tab, select Protect Document > Restrict Formatting and Editing.
Then, when the task pane opens, enable the Allow only this type of editing in the document checkbox and, from the list below it, choose Filling in forms. Click the Yes, Start Enforcing Protection button and, if desired, set a password to protect the form. Typically you will not bother as all you're really seeking to do is to make the form controls work.
Now save your document. If you plan to allow others access to it to fill it out, you can create it as a template by choosing File > Save As and next choosing Word Template (*.dotx) from the Save as type dropdown list. Click Trusted Templates at the top left of the dialog and save your file.
Now you can create a new document based on the template and test your form. If it needs editing you must open the template, unprotect it, make your changes, protect it again, and then resave it.
If you have used only Legacy Form controls then any user who has a copy of Word that has the add-in installed that allows them to read and edit Word 2007 documents can create and complete the survey. The free Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint File Forma add-in can be found here for download: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=941b3470-3ae9-4aee-8f43-c6bb74cd1466&displaylang=en.
When users open and complete the survey, they can simply click the checkboxes to enable and disable them, type in a text box and select an option from the drop-down list.
Before we wrap up this month's article, here are six handy tips for creating the most effective surveys:
- Only ever ask questions that you really need to ask, not every question you can think of.
- Ensure you make it clear to the respondent exactly what sort of information you want from them.
- To make survey answers more useful offer four options not five. If you offer Dissatisfied, Slightly Dissatisfied, Satisfied, and Very Satisfied, respondents cannot take a middle ground and must choose Slightly Dissatisfied or Slightly Satisfied. If you offer Dissatisfied, Slightly Dissatisfied, Neutral, Satisfied, Very Satisfied many respondents will settle for Neutral as a noncommittal answer.
- Be aware that for some questions Not Applicable is the appropriate answer so allow for that rather than forcing respondents to choose an inappropriate alternate answer.
- Stick to the same order for your answers — if one question has Dissatisfied as the first answer do not make Very Satisfied the first option in the next question.
- The quicker and easier your survey is to read, understand and complete, the more likely it is that someone will be happy to go to the effort of completing it for you.
Helen Bradley is a respected international journalist writing regularly for small business and computer publications in the USA, Canada, South Africa, UK and Australia. She blogs at http://www.projectwoman.com/blogger.html.