How to Use Close-Ended Questions in Surveys

October 20, 2023
Table of Contents
Table of Contents

Are you looking to gather precise and actionable data from your surveys? Understanding how to use close-ended questions well is an excellent way to achieve this goal. Close-ended questions are perfect for collecting quantitative data, enabling you to make data-driven decisions and draw meaningful conclusions.

In this post, we’ll delve into close-ended questions, what they are, how they differ from open-ended questions, their advantages and disadvantages, and finally, how to use them in your survey. Ready? Let’s begin!

What are close-ended questions?

Close-ended questions are questions that have predefined answers that respondents choose from. They’re more direct in the data they gather than other types of questions. Let’s explore more in the world of close-ended questions. 

What is the difference between open-ended and closed-ended questions?

Open and close-ended questions are two very different question formats commonly used in surveys. Open-ended questions invite respondents to provide free-form, detailed responses. In contrast, closed-ended questions limit answers to choices like multiple-choice or yes/no questions. 

Open-ended questions give rich, detailed information from different viewpoints. Closed-ended questions provide simple, quantitative data for statistics. Learn more about the differences between qualitative and quantitative data in surveys. 

Advantages of closed-ended questions

Advantages of close-ended questions include:

  • Efficiency: They are quick to answer, making surveys or interviews more time-efficient.
  • Quantifiable data: Responses can be easily quantified, aiding in statistical analysis.
  • Ease of comparison: Responses are structured, simplifying comparisons across participants.
  • Ease of analysis: Analyzing data from closed-ended questions is straightforward and systematic.
  • Standardization: Ideal for benchmarking and tracking changes over time.
  • Reduced ambiguity: Minimizes misinterpretation since response options are predefined.

Disadvantages of closed-ended questions

However, close-ended questions also have a few disadvantages:

  • Lack of depth: Closed-ended questions often provide shallower insights compared to open-ended questions.
  • Cannot explore reasons: They don't allow respondents to explain their answers or provide context.
  • Risk of guesswork: Respondents might guess the closest option if none exactly matches their opinion.
  • Reduced flexibility: They are less flexible in adapting to unexpected or evolving issues.
  • Less personalization: Closed-ended questions may not capture unique individual perspectives.
  • Inadequate for complex topics: For complex issues, closed-ended questions may oversimplify or miss essential nuances.

Types of closed-ended questions

Closed-ended questions come in various forms to suit different survey and research needs. Here are common types:

  • Multiple choice: Respondents choose from a list of predefined options. Useful for collecting structured data with distinct choices.
  • Yes/No questions: Simplicity in its truest form, providing binary responses for straightforward queries.
  • Likert scale: Respondents rate statements on a scale, gauging agreement, satisfaction, or frequency.
  • Ranking questions: Participants prioritize items by assigning ranks, helpful for preference-based surveys.
  • Matrix questions: Here, related questions are grouped into a matrix to streamline responses on a standard scale.

How to use close-ended questions in surveys

Now, let’s learn how to use the close-ended question in surveys.

Use a multiple-choice or checkbox format

Google Forms is an incredibly versatile platform that lets you use multiple types of question formats for your form or survey. 

To add a close-ended question to your form, first click the “Add question” button on the floating menu. 

Google Forms will now automatically add a new question in the multiple-choice format. Now, all you have to do is add your questions and the options you want to provide to your respondents. 

Additionally, you can also change the format of the question to one of the checkbox formats, as these are also close-ended. There are three checkbox formats available in Google Forms: simple checkboxes, multiple-choice grids, and the tick box grid

Checkboxes allow respondents to select more than one response. There’s a subtle difference between the multiple choice and tick box grid, but they’re used when there are numerous responses under each option. 

You can also ask respondents to rate or rank

Another way to ask a close-ended question on your survey is by using the linear scale question format. Linear scale, a.k.a. the Likert scale question format, allows respondents to provide a rating as a response to the question. Learn more about how to use a linear scale in Google Forms

Visualize and analyze your responses

Visualizing and analyzing the responses to your close-ended questions is essential for extracting valuable insights from your data. Google Forms makes it very easy to analyze responses by representing them in charts, histograms, and pie charts. Learn how to view analytics in Google Forms. 

When you have many results and need a hand, you have tools like Advanced Summary and Form Publisher. These are both Google Form add-ons and can substantially streamline your data analysis phase when used together.

Check out Advanced Summary for your next Google Forms survey

Taking the help of add-ons can enable you to extract data in the best possible manner from your close-ended questions. 

Advanced Summary enhances your form analysis by providing in-depth statistics, response filtering, and data visualization. It enables you to generate detailed charts, segment responses, and gain deeper insights from your responses.  

Form Publisher can help you organize and store your responses as individual response documents wherever and however you want in your Google Drive. 

Check out Advanced Summary and Form Publisher today! 

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