Phrasing of questions

The success of your project depends heavily on the way questions are phrased because incomprehension or inexactness make answers unusable. This is valid for both the question itself and suggested answers.

Take time to write your questionnaire by hand or using word processing software. In this way, you can easily work on formulation and will need to make only slight changes when you program the online questionnaire. Keep in mind that online survey tools are designed for programming questionnaires and not for writing them. Your study should be entirely finished when you start to enter the questionnaire in the online survey application.

Phrasing of questions

Phrasing should be

  • Concise: Propose short questions and answers.
  • Clear: The vocabulary should be simple, precise and reflect the spoken language.
  • Explicit: Do not rely on the respondent’s memory.
  • Comprehensible: Do not use abbreviations.

Dual question

Avoid proposing two topics in a question that requires a “yes – no” answer. You will have a hard time deciding which element is included in a positive answer and which is excluded in a negative answer. Is it just one element separately or both together?

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Choose the scale according to the way data will be processed: 1 to 5, 1 to 7, 1 to 9, including a neutral point or step. Use the same scale for the entire survey in order to make comparisons. For more information on scales in the step, see: Types of questions

Checking entry possibilities

Check the entry possibilities on answers, including exclusivity, multiple choice, random and rotation, and be sure that the limits proposed do not overlap.

Use the assistance option under the question to guide the respondent in answering.


Have someone who is not involved in the study test your questionnaire
to check that it makes sense and is easy to understand.



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