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Creating a questionnaire: How-tos, templates, and tips

Get valuable thoughts from respondents with a well-designed questionnaire. Browse examples, find tips, and tailor a free questionnaire template from Canva to meet your data collection needs.
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What is a questionnaire?

A questionnaire is a research tool that contains a series of questions used to gain information from respondents about their opinions, experiences, and behaviors. Questionnaires may elicit quantitative or qualitative data(opens in a new tab or window) and be delivered online, by phone, on paper, or in person.

First developed by Sir Francis Galton, a British anthropologist, questionnaires feature open-ended questions, closed-ended questions, or a combination of both. Open-ended questions enable respondents to elaborate on their answers, while closed-ended questions provide respondents with a fixed set of responses they can choose from.

Example of a questionnaire about building a company’s brand.

Example of a questionnaire about building a company’s brand.

Questionnaires are widely applied by individuals and organizations in diverse industries. Some of the most popular questionnaires are used in the following:

  • Market research
  • Employee engagement
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Dissertations and research papers
  • Health and psychological assessments

When designed and executed well, they serve a vital role in determining the quality of data and insights you receive from your intended audience.

Questionnaire vs survey

Questionnaires and surveys are often used interchangeably. However, they mean two different things.

A questionnaire is a specific survey instrument for collecting or recording information about a subject. All questions are standardized, which means respondents are presented with the same questions in the same order.

Meanwhile, a survey is a broader term for gathering, analyzing, and interpreting data. It uses questionnaires but also includes sampling, data analysis, observations, and other methods to find out more about a group of people.

In other words, the survey is the research process you’re conducting, and the questionnaire is the tool you’re using to do it.

Types of questionnaires and their purposes

Questionnaires come in different types, each with its own purpose and unique benefits. Understanding the various types of questionnaires is important for capturing the right data and analyzing it to draw meaningful insights. Below are the different questionnaire types based on the method of delivery.

Online questionnaire

Possibly the most common type of questionnaire, online questionnaires are designed and administered via email and other online channels. This method can be cost-effective and easy to distribute for small and large groups.

Since it’s self-paced, participants can answer on their own time, which may lead to more accurate responses. However, questionnaires sent online may be limited to populations that have access to the Internet, thereby affecting the variation of the data collected.

Choosing how to deliver your questionnaire
Evaluate your respondents’ demographics and accessibility to determine the best delivery method for your questionnaire.
Preview of the Share option in Canva Docs. Share your questionnaire via email or a link.

Preview of the Share option in Canva Docs. Share your questionnaire via email or a link.

Mail questionnaire

Mail or postal questionnaires are conducted in pen-and-paper format. Respondents receive the same set of questions through the mail that can be filled in and mailed back to the researcher or organization that sent them.

Given the lack of incentive for respondents to participate, this type of questionnaire has a relatively lower response rate and is becoming obsolete.

Telephone questionnaire

Here, a researcher directly calls respondents and delivers the questionnaire over the phone. This method works well when you only have a couple of questions that need quick answers. Note that some participants may hesitate to divulge as much information over a telephone conversation.

Generally, you may not be able to collect as many responses as other questionnaire types, which could result in a sample that doesn’t wholly represent the larger population.

In-person questionnaire

With in-person questionnaires, researchers communicate directly with respondents by traveling to their homes or workplaces and asking the questions already listed in the questionnaire.

This face-to-face interaction lets you better understand the context of the respondent’s answers by observing verbal and non-verbal cues that help you interpret the information obtained from the conversation. However, this method requires plenty of logistical preparation, with its success greatly depending on the skills of the interviewer.

What to include in a questionnaire?

While the structure and content of a questionnaire may look different depending on the research objectives, a few key components should always be included.

Example of a client questionnaire that shows the title, introduction, and questions about the participant.

Example of a client questionnaire that shows the title, introduction, and questions about the participant.

Question types in questionnaires

Various question types form the backbone of any questionnaire. Each type serves a specific purpose in collecting quantitative and qualitative data. In this section, we delve into the kinds of questions you can employ in your questionnaire to extract the most valuable and meaningful insights from respondents.

Examples of questions to measure customer satisfaction.

Examples of questions to measure customer satisfaction.

Question wording

Choosing the right words and phrases to form a question is key to conveying the meaning and purpose of the question to respondents and ensuring everyone interprets the question in the same manner. Even minor changes in wording can significantly alter the answers you receive.

Keep the following in mind when coming up with survey questions to ask:

Be accurate and specific

First, it’s essential to ask specific questions that all participants will be able to answer. If the question is unclear, they may choose any answer and skew your questionnaire results.

For open-ended questions, make it clear to respondents that they can answer using their own words. Specify the kind of answer required, whether describing an experience or sharing first impressions about a new product or campaign. If a question is closed-ended, remember to include all possible answer options and that each option is distinct and mutually exclusive.

Stick with clear, simple language

Generally, questions that use clear and straightforward language are more easily understood by participants. Formulate questions with your target audience in mind. Consider their understanding of the subjects and language used in your questionnaire, and tailor your questions accordingly. Avoid technical words, jargon, and unfamiliar abbreviations to ensure readability and clarity.

Follow the KISS principle
KISS stands for keep it simple, stupid. Use this principle to formulate clear, concise, and easy-to-understand questions.
Canva’s Magic Write can be used to craft simple, specific questions.

Canva’s Magic Write can be used to craft simple, specific questions.

Magic Write
Looking for ways to devise specific, unbiased questions? Find words of inspiration and turn keywords into impactful questions with Magic Write.

Ask one question at a time

While it’s tempting to ask multiple questions simultaneously, sticking to a certain topic will likely yield more meaningful results. Ask one question at a time and avoid double-barreled questions. Double-barreled questions ask two things in one question, confusing and frustrating respondents.

An example of a double-barreled question is, Do you agree or disagree that the President is adept at handling domestic and foreign policy?

This question is difficult to answer, as respondents may have conflicting opinions on domestic and foreign policy. In this example, it would be better to ask two individual questions. Having one question about domestic policy and another about foreign policy can better capture the respondent’s true answers.

Avoid biased questions

When thinking of good survey questions, always stay unbiased as possible. Avoid asking questions that suggest you seek a specific answer or response. Consider modifying the wording of your question so as not to lead respondents in a particular direction.

Furthermore, assess if certain words or phrases may be viewed as offensive or embarrassing, which can lead to respondents withdrawing their participation or deliberately giving poor responses. It’s best to keep your questions brief, concise, and focused on the topic.

How to make a questionnaire

Crafting an effective questionnaire requires balancing well-crafted questions and the right structure. Below is a step-by-step guide on how to write a questionnaire that’s comprehensive, engaging, and meets your research objectives.

How to make a questionnaire on Canva Docs.

Set SMART goals
SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. Apply this concept to your survey to drive clear and detailed results.

Get inspired with questionnaire templates

Creating a questionnaire might sound easy until you have to formulate questions, determine the format, write quality content, and figure out the design. With free questionnaire templates on Canva, you can find inspiration for all kinds of survey questionnaires—so you never have to start from scratch! Pick a questionnaire layout below, then customize every element to suit your style and content.

All you need in a questionnaire maker

Make a questionnaire online without any complicated software. Explore our tools and features to craft a free questionnaire that effectively meets your research objectives. Design, edit, collaborate on, and share your document seamlessly with Canva’s free online questionnaire creator!

  • Great on any device

    Great on any device

    With responsive Docs, create, view, and edit your doc on any device. Perfect for when you're on the go.

  • Visual library for visual Docs

    Visual library for visual Docs

    Seamlessly add visuals like graphs, tables, images, videos, graphics, and more, all available within your doc.

  • Collaborate in real-time

    Collaborate in real-time

    Work with teams and build on ideas with comments and emoji reactions. Keep sync sessions on track with a timer.

  • Magic Write your first draft, fast

    Magic Write your first draft, fast

    Beat writer's block and skip ahead to your first draft with a single text prompt on Magic Write.

  • Share your work effortlessly

    Share your work effortlessly

    Share a link to your doc and control your team’s access. Track activity, views, and comments via Insights (Pro).

  • Turn Docs to Decks

    Turn Docs to Decks

    Instantly convert your document to a fully customizable Canva presentation with Docs to Decks.

Questionnaire best practices

Questionnaires are a valuable tool for gathering thoughts and feedback from a particular target audience. These four best practices can enhance your questionnaire’s quality and impact and achieve the desired results.

Filter respondents

A good questionnaire starts with a qualifying question to screen respondents and ensure they're qualified to participate. If, for instance, you’re developing a questionnaire sample for students. You need input only from students, so your qualifying question should be, Are you a student? If yes, the respondent can proceed with answering the questions. If not, politely express your thanks and let the respondent know they cannot complete the questionnaire.

Filtering respondents is important to ensure that only relevant participants are included in the survey. This practice enhances the accuracy of your research. Additionally, it saves time and resources by eliminating responses from those who don’t meet the criteria.

Include a consent statement

At the beginning of your questionnaire, include a brief consent statement. This statement informs respondents about the survey’s objectives, explains the benefits and risks of participation, and assures them that any answers they provide will be kept confidential.

In your statement, emphasize that participation is voluntary and respondents can opt out without obligation. This empowers respondents to make an informed decision about their involvement, with all relevant information presented upfront.

Create translated versions

If you are administering your questionnaire to a broad group of respondents, take into account multiple language variations. Some respondents may have a different primary language than yours or may not be proficient. Consider the languages your respondents are likely to be comfortable with, and if needed, maintain versions of your questionnaire in different languages to communicate effectively with the right audience.

Consider future applications

The objectives of your questionnaire and its possible long-term uses are closely intertwined. Having a clear plan for maximizing your questionnaire - currently and in the future - is essential. Do you intend for it to be a stand-alone questionnaire? For instance, evaluating employee engagement for a company event. Or do you plan to reuse it for future events or incorporate it into regular employee feedback forms?

Understanding your questionnaire's potential subsequent applications will influence what type of questions you choose, how they're worded, and when they're delivered.

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Collect meaningful insights before strategizing your next move. Craft engaging questionnaires with a free online questionnaire maker. Use templates, visual tools, graphics, and charts from Canva Docs.
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