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Grow Your Business Technology

How to Create and Track Forms in Microsoft Forms

image for inLite Studio / Shutterstock
inLite Studio / Shutterstock

Microsoft Forms is one of the most basic yet useful and powerful apps in the Microsoft Office suite. It's a bit unheralded, as many power users love Word and Excel and stick with those apps on a daily basis. Still, Forms provides some surprising functionality for business that can transform how you collect and track information.

In Forms, you can create a form or a quiz. The two might appear similar, but the basic difference is that a form is used to collect information or conduct a survey, while a quiz is meant to test the participants, and each answer can include a specific number of points. A quiz also allows you to provide feedback to the participant (say, whether they selected the correct answer).

One reason Forms is so useful is that it is simple to use. There is no programming involved, so coding and technical skills aren't required. You can create forms easily and then track the results. Forms can be shared by email, as part of a website, as a link, or even using a QR code someone can scan with their phone. Here are the basic steps to create a form and then track the results easily, all in a surprisingly intuitive interface.

When you want to create a new form, go to Forms.office.com or click the icon in the Office app (either the desktop version or online). Click on the option to create a new form or a new quiz. The interface at this point looks the same, although the quiz has a few extra options, such as adding the points allocated for each response. (For a quiz, you can also add math equations.)

The basic steps are also the same. You select the type of question you want, such as multiple choice, text response, rating, date ranges and a few other, more technical options. The more technical form entries are shown in the menu and include things like a way to rank answers, a table, and a Net Promoter Score option. All these choices are clearly presented and walk you through configuring the settings or, for a quiz, adding a point total.

What's amazing about Microsoft Forms is that you are basically done at this point – you can create ultra-simple forms (say, asking team members which day you should do a status meeting) or incredibly complex ones collecting information from job applicants. Forms doesn't make you save your work, do any programming or even prepare your form for actual use. Once you add the questions and choices, you are done and can share the form.

This can be as simple as selecting the Share option and copying the link to your form. If you want to run a survey about satisfaction with your business, you could copy the link and share it on social media. You can also select an option to share the form only with those at your firm who have access to Office, or anyone with the link. You can go back and edit any form or tweak the theme if you need (just click the Theme button in the upper right). 

It might seem like there should be more to the process, but most forms really only take a few minutes to create and then a few minutes to share by email or other methods.

If creating a new form is simple, tracking the results is even more straightforward. For the currently selected form, you click the Responses tab and can see the results.

For example, let's say you create a new form to ask employees about a new project and their opinions on the direction. You can see all the responses and review a chart that shows the given answers. You can also review average scores and individual scores for a quiz.

Microsoft Forms lets you open the results in Excel – just click the option in the app. This opens up all of the responses in a spreadsheet, which you can review, share or even edit as needed. In a spreadsheet format, you can decide to represent the data using a chart or track the responses from multiple forms you've created (by using a tab for each one).

For tracking additional forms, click the Forms application name in the upper left. Here you can review all the forms you have created, then track the responses to each one. One downside to mention here is that Forms doesn't provide a more robust engine for tracking a group of forms – say, collecting the data from multiple surveys or questionnaires, and then compiling all of that info into one form summary. As mentioned, though, you can do this manually in Excel.

Microsoft Forms doesn't pretend to be a high-end form creation tool where you can tweak the HTML code for a form or conduct a series of surveys that are generated automatically – say, sent by email on a set date. It's meant to help you create basic forms and quizzes, track the results, and not get bogged down with extra settings.

John Brandon

John Brandon is a technology expert, business advocate, and columnist. He has written over 12,000 articles in 16 years. His first articles appeared in LAPTOP magazine in 2002.