Design your survey - configure text box, drop-down, multiple choice and checkbox elements

We're retiring Surveys & forms

On 5 July 2021, Surveys & forms will be retired. You can continue to create surveys, forms, and even landing pages with our newer, easier-to-use and more flexible Pages and forms tool.

No need to panic - your existing surveys and forms will continue to work even after this date. Now is a great time to start building using the Pages and forms tool.

Learn more about the Surveys & forms retirement


If you click within an element container, it will highlight and the left-hand side panel will switch from the Build to Configure tab.

This will allow you to configure the element.


All of the various element settings that can be configured are described below.

Element settings

Assign to a contact data field (text box, drop-down and multiple choice questions only)

Tick this setting to assign a question to your contact data fields (this can't be done for checkbox and Likert scale elements). This allows you to add a respondent as a brand new contact, whilst you can also choose to use it to update and enrich an existing contact's data.

You can then choose which address book new contacts are added to, and which existing contacts are updated in, at the time of selecting address book options when choosing your survey's settings.

But you'll need an email address element

You must have an email address element assigned to the email address contact data field within your survey for this to work.

Required answer

Tick this setting to make it a mandatory answer. You're also able to write the error message that's shown if this is left blank.

If you select a required answer and don't enter a required error message, the error message will default to 'Please answer the question below'. There are some other default error messages such as 'Please enter your full name' and 'Please enter your email address' for preconfigured 'Name' and 'Email' fields respectively.

Validation (text box only)

Tick this setting for validation of a field. You can choose the type of validation you require from the drop-down menu (currently only number validation is available).

If you don't enter a validation error message, a default message of 'The format is incorrect' (or 'Please enter a valid email address' when using an email address element) will be generated.

Note: Validation is automatically set for an email address element, which can also be set as a required answer. If the box is left blank, the required answer error message will be generated in the first instance. If the field is filled in, and a recognised email address is not entered, then the validation error message will be displayed.

Default value (text box questions only)

Enter details to create a guide for how to complete a field, e.g. 'Please provide your full name (first name and last name)' – however, if this box isn't completed then the default value will be stored as an answer.

If you don't require the value to be stored then see the watermark instructions below.

Watermark (text box questions only)

Enter details to create a guide for how to complete a field. As soon as the cursor is placed in the field, the watermark will disappear and allow a new value to be entered.

If not completed (and it isn't checked as a required field), the watermark won't be stored as an answer.


Note that the watermark feature isn't supported by all browsers; as such it should be used to guide the respondent, and not be relied upon for survey navigation. (At the time of writing it's supported by all major browsers except for Internet Explorer.)

Edit list (for drop-down, multiple choice and checkbox question only)

Click the Edit list button to populate and edit your drop-down, multiple choice and checkbox lists.


Import list (for drop-down, multiple choice and checkbox questions only)

You have three options: you can either paste a list from another document, directly type in your list, or use a predefined list.

Click on Paste a List and then paste the list you wish to use into the text box (note that the list you copy must be formatted with one item per line), followed by clicking on Use this list. This will populate the Manage list section.

Alternatively, select Choose a predefined list, select from the drop-down, click on Use this list and it will populate in the Manage list section.


Manage list (for drop-down, multiple choice and checkbox questions only)

To type in an item directly, click within the topmost field directly underneath the 'Manage listheading, make your entry and then click Add. This item will then appear in the list below, at the very bottom of it. You can add items for your list one by one this way.

To change an item's position within your list, select it to highlight it and then move it by using the green arrows to the right. You can delete items using the red cross positioned in between the arrows.


Default selection (for drop-down, multiple choice, checkbox and Likert questions only)

This will set the default answer for this question; if you don't select a default answer it will remain blank.

To select a default value, click on the arrow to display your list and select the value you wish to display as the default. If you're shown the choice of '[None]' in the default drop-down, selecting this will mean no choice is preselected. 


Finally, click on Accept changes to load your settings for these elements into your survey.

Display 'Other' option (for drop-down, multiple choice and checkbox questions only)

Ticking this checkbox will add the item 'Other' to the end of the list of answers. This allows respondents to select this field and enter their own answer to the question.


Page branching (for drop-down and multiple choice questions only)

Ticking this checkbox will allow you to create surveys with multiple routes based on your respondents' answers. It will ensure they only see the questions that are relevant to them.

To enable page branching though, you'll need your survey to have at least three pages, include a multiple choice or drop-down question, and have at least one answer to that question.

To learn more about this feature, read our article on page branching.


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