How to Select the Right Types of Survey Questions - The Essential Guide

Everything You Need to Know About choosing the Most Effective Question Types

Sometimes you need to get back to basics. To start your questionnaire off right, right? A survey is the most commonly used quantitative research method to collect data. Based on the type of information you want to gather, specific questions are used. This blog post will help you discover the specific question types you can use to make your surveys and quizzes more effective.

Formulating good questions is an art form in itself! We’ll take our time to run through the most common and most effective question types. Keep in mind what YOU want to learn from your respondents, then choose question types and formats accordingly. Good luck!

3 Most Commonly Used forms of Survey Questions

Three general ways of asking a question. That doesn’t sound too complicated! Get back to the base of what you want to ask, decide which format will work best to get the answer you need.

– Close Ended Questions

The questions where you have no possibility of explaining your chosen answer, no specification by text description. A respondent can only choose one or more items from the list of predefined answers. This question type is perfect for examining a set of different qualities or variables. And gives you data from every participant in the same structure, making analysis a dream.

Close ended question

– Open Ended Questions

When a personal explanation or point of view is needed. This question type offers room for the respondent to give a specific answer. It also means that close examination of these repsonses is required. So keep in mind the resources you’ll need to allocate when working with these types of questions. Of course our strong analysis tool can also do a great job at discovering the tendencies of your respondents. Open Ended Question

Nowadays, technology offers fun twists on this open ended question form.

Upload a picture

– Semi Close-Ended Question

A little bit of this, a little bit of that, that’s where semi close-ended questions come in! Perfect for when you need to gather both very specific answers and maybe a textual explanation.

It gives you uniform data as a result, explained with a few personal insights where they truly matter. This is your spot to find truly engaged respondents. Use their enthusiasm to turn them in potential ambassadors for your brand.

Semi Close Ended Question

5 Specific Survey Question Types Every Marketer Should Know About

These are 5 basic question types that will get you a long way in getting the data you actually want and need. It’s important to ask yourself the same question, how would you answer it? What exact info do you want to receive from your respondents?

Also, don’t forget about the time it takes for a respondent to finish these questions, compared to how much time the respondent actually has.

– Dichotomous – Also known as Yes/No Questions

Is our first example of a close-ended question. It’s one of the most basic questions and has only two possible answers: Yes or No. When forming a Yes / No question, keep the following verbs in mind: BE, DO, HAVE or a modal verb, without one of these, it’s impossible to answer your question with a simple yes or no.

– Ratings, like the Likert-type scale

Another type of close-ended question is a rating scale, where you can uncover a certain degree of opinion. The Likert-type scale allows your respondent to choose a single rating out of a list of possible choices that are equally spaced apart. The most common use is to measure the satisfaction of your respondents, in numbers or with a modern twist.

Keep in mind that, when using the Likert-type scale, the possible selections are equal: Use the same types of words or numbers, be clear on how strong the lowest and highest rating are compared, etc. …

Likert Type Scale

Smiley Rating

– List of items

Usually in the form of a Multiple Choice question. The one we hated when taking tests! Because they made things so confusing… But the one that also scored you points if you had a knack for guessing.

This close-ended question offers your respondents a certain number of answers. It’s up to you if you’ll allow them to answer with one or more possible options.

– Ordinal Questions

The one where a respondent can rearrange the answers any way he likes! The basic principle of this question type is to sort the answers in order of importance, according to the respondent. The old fashioned way (by assigning numbers) can now be replaced by a more interactive drag and drop variant.

drag in right order

– Demographic Questions

It might seem obvious to some, but we can’t stress enough how these questions are a must in any type of survey. They are the basic questions used to form an image of the respondent taking the questionnaire. They gather info on characteristics such as gender, age, place, income, …

This data will help you define a clear picture or setting of the audience you’re surveying and, ultimately, will help you to better understand their choices. Next to that, it’s an easy way to discover how you can reach them with your promotional communication.

Pay attention to the information you ask and need. If you send out an email with your questionnaire, it would be strange to ask for the respondents’ email address again in the demographic question.

Why Skip Logic and Contingency Questions are Effective

When you’re creating a survey, it’s useful to apply Skip Logic. It means that you guide the respondent through the survey, using only questions that are relevant to that respondent, based on their previous answers.

For example, when a respondent answered they don’t enjoy reading thrillers, it’s no use asking them what their favorite thriller is afterwards.

Using Skip Logic will make your respondents fly through your amazing survey, not losing any time on questions that aren’t relevant. It will make them feel more valued, to have a questionnaire that feels like it was made just for them. It gives you the opportunity to have more of a life-like conversation with your respondent and you get nothing but the right and more qualitative data in return.

Why Question Wording is Extremely Important

A few pointers to keep in mind when formulating questions. It’s easy to lose yourself in thinking of what you hope to learn instead of what you need to learn, this translates into the way you ask your questions. And it’s a big no no!

Focus: Ask for only one thing per question

How many books have you read this past month?
Instead of
Do you read less because you have too much work?

This last question isn’t great (OK, it’s awful) for a number of reasons:

  • ‘Because’ indicates you’re assuming something for the respondent.
  • How much is too much?
  • What if there’s another reason, why I read less? I’ll just answer ‘No’ and you’ll still have no idea.

Be precise: Don’t ask ‘leading questions’

Phrasings can be interpreted in many different ways, a specific problem is asking ‘leading questions’ where you add too much of an opinion into your question. Reduce the chance of misinterpretation by clearly defining the terms used in the question and answer format and even by giving some extra context if necessary. Avoid using words that are loaded or emotional.

Do you enjoy reading detective novels?
Instead of
Detective novels are extremely popular, do you enjoy reading them?
(Let your respondent decide if Detectives are exciting!)

Keep it short and simple

Be brief, the longer the question, the higher the risk your respondent will misinterpret or will stop reading half way. Of course, this doesn’t mean you should leave out necessary info or an explanation if it’s needed. Choose to separate the explanation from the actual question, to make the info more digestible.


Keeping respondents’ current way of communicating and gathering information in mind, we know how important it is to make a lasting impression. To capture the respondents’ attention and give them the opportunity to connect to your brand. There are some very easy, quick ways to lift your survey to a higher level. In fact, here are 6 ways to make your survey more conversational.


It’s one thing to try and interact with your respondents while they’re taking your questionnaire. Another thing that might help is adding a bit of fun or entertainment. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t focus on getting serious results out of it, it does mean that you can get more results by making sure the respondent feels good about taking the survey. Take a minute to discover more about the benefits and ways to unbore the common survey.

Considerations When Selecting an Online Survey Platform

Besides deciding on the different question types that you could use in your surveys, there are more things to consider: User Experience (UX). And UX is not just about what looks good.

When creating a survey or quiz, keep in mind where and when your respondents will be taking it. Limit your amount of questions for example a point of sale survey, where people don’t have much time and aren’t in a comfortable spot to quietly take a survey.

Use a tool that’s optimized for their devices, in this example – think mobile first!
And isn’t it great that you can reach them both when they’re online and offline? Even if you can’t rely on internet connections at that specific time, you’ll get the data you need.

And, finally, to kick that experience up a notch, don’t be afraid to add fun or entertaining elements into your questionnaire. Instead of just offering an incentive, engage with your respondent by making them play with a scratch card, let them win a jack pot with an animated slot machine, …

On this and much more, we have templates, playful widgets and tons of tips and tricks waiting for you in the Survey Anyplace tool.

Every questionnaire is different, and our aim is to offer powerful features for building entertaining surveys that answer all of your specific needs.

These insights on common survey questions will guide you in your first steps on how to make a survey.
The ease and added fun-factor of Survey Anyplace, will help you make those surveys into a powerful masterpiece. Get started with what you’ve learned here, sign up for free and make us proud!

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Meet the Writers
  • Sofie Nelen

    Digital Marketeer for Survey Anyplace - writing down tips and thoughts to unbore the common survey with a focus on marketing.

  • Stefan Debois

    As the CEO of Survey Anyplace, Stefan focuses on how to get the best results from the tool - preferably backed with real-life data.

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