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How to Word Survey Questions?

1. Use Simple Language

Make your questions easy to understand by using simple language. The goal is to write a question that your reader will easily understand without having to reread it.

Using everyday language is the best way to accomplish this. A good exercise to practice is to write questions that you could see yourself asking friends or colleagues.

2. Use Words with Clear Meanings

Avoid phrases that are left to the reader’s interpretation. Words like mostnumerousmany, and several mean different things to different people. You want to use words that are more commonly understood, such as

almost alla majority ofalmost none, and a few.

3. Avoid Leading Words

Small changes in the words selection can produce great differences in results. For example, non-specific words and ideas can cause a certain level of ambiguity in your survey. “Could,” “should,” and “might” all sound about the same, but may produce a 20% difference in agreement to a question.

In addition, strong words such as “force” and “prohibit” represent control or action and can bias your results.

Example:

Do your colleagues force you to work for long hours?

No one likes to be forced, and no many like to stay longer at work. When survey questions read more like normative statements than questions looking for objective feedback, any ability to measure that feedback becomes difficult.

Wording alternatives can be developed. How about simple statements such as:

Do your colleagues require you to work for long hours?

4. Asking Direct Questions

Questions that are vague and do not communicate your intent can limit the usefulness of your results. Make sure respondents know what you’re asking.

Example:

What suggestions do you have for improving the food at our restaurant?

This question may be intended to obtain suggestions about improving taste, but respondents will offer suggestions about presentation, the type of utensils, about quantity, or even suggestions relating to recipes.

Example:

What suggestions do you have for improving the taste of food at our restaurant?

5. Ask Only One Question at a Time

There is often a temptation to ask multiple questions at once. This can cause problems for respondents and influence their responses.

Review each question and make sure it asks only one clear question.

Example:

What is the fastest and most economical Internet service for you?

This is really asking two questions. The fastest is often not the most economical.

Using Surview Questions Bank

If you need some hints to professionally written survey questions, use Surview’s Questions Bank. It is a database of most frequently asked questions on surveys. Every question and response set has been written in a methodologically sound way to reduce bias and give you the most accurate answers.

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