September 23, 2020

I like Microsoft Forms a lot, but I can only say this recently. They got a lot better lately and continues with a reliable roadmap, but before that, if you wanted a decent form with some automation, you need to go to Google Forms or other products that were not as nice as Microsoft Forms is now. I want to show you the fundamentals and how you can take advantage of it.

There are now two main options in Microsoft Forms. You can create a Form or a Quiz. The quizzes are fantastic, but I’ll cover them in another article. For now, let’s get you started with a new Form and show you how to create a multi-step and straightforward form, allowing you to split into different sections.

Create a new Form

To create a new Form, go to www.office.com and pick Microsoft Forms:

If you can’t find it use the “All apps” and it should be there. If you still can’t find it, probably you don’t have it with your subscription, and you need to contact who manages your 365 instances to give you permissions.

he following screen will show up:

Wow, a lot of red stuff on the screen!!! Let’s go over them one by one.

Form Name

You can and should define a name for your form. As soon as you click the name, you’ll find the following options:

Define a title that shows what the form for but don’t make it too tedious. You have another field where you can go over details. The Form’s title will show up in some places, and having a considerable title may look quite ugly to the user. Finally, you can define a background image. It can be anything, and it will add extra flavor to your Form.

Although this is one of Office’s 365 features and people consider that this is something to be used professionally (and totally should), there’s no reason to use it for other parts of your life to make your life easier. I’ll use planing a birthday party as an example to break the notion that Office 365 is only severe and professional stuff.

Looks fun, right?

Add a new field

Now let’s look at something amazing. We’ll go over the other areas in a second, but I wanted to show this first had to show you this.

If you fill in the information above and click “Add New“ this shows up:

Microsoft Forms understands by the title and by the description what you’re trying to build and provides you with suggestions. You’re in the fundamentals part and already have Microsoft Forms generating stuff for you :). Let’s add them all and see what happens.

Notice that the inserted questions have different styles, so you have “yes/no” answers, multiple answers, free form text, and a dropdown with choices. All of this with four clicks.

Themes

Microsoft provides some themes so that you can customize your form. They vary from professional-looking too goofy, so know your audience and pick accordingly. Let’s pick one but notice that the icon changed already.

Microsoft Forms is trying to find a theme that fits the objective of your form like it did with the previous questions. You can pick one, choose a color or change the color. Let’s pick a goofy one since we’ re planning a party.

Preview

Let’s preview or form. To do that, use the “Preview” button and you’ll get the following screen:

And how it will show on your phone.

Microsoft Forms does a great job of making forms compatible with mobile devices so that people can answer them right from the phone’s browser.

Filling it in

Filling in the Form is quite simple. You can preview mode fill in your answer and see the results. A thank you message will show and the form is submitted.

Share it

If you want people to fill it in, you need to share the form. To do that you have multiple options.

Have a link to share in Microsoft Teams for example:

Have a Q.R. code to share (I hate these but people still think they’re useful, for some reason)

Embed the Form. You can use it for example, on one of your SharePoint Site Pages, and people will see it as it was part of the page.

And finally, the good old email. It will open your default email client automatically with the title and the URL for the form.

See results

When replies start coming in, you have excellent statistics for each question. Let’s submit one and see the results:

Each question has a different presentation depending on the type of question. Text fields will display the text, but the other fixed fields will display graphics that help you see the distribution of the people per topic.

(Yes I pressed all the options, I’ll bring everything!)

All of this automatic and still with just a few clicks.

Notice above that I selected Excel. You can export the answers to an Excel file and parse them there.

Parsing stuff in Excel goes a little bit away from the fundamentals, but I wanted to show you it’s possible to do.

Last Thoughts

Like I mentioned before we can build a quite complete and fun Form in a few minutes, with minimal effort and:

  1. Control the types of answers
  2. Provide free fields in case the options are not available.
  3. Have automatic statistics
  4. Have a mobile-friendly site.
  5. Have automatic suggestions based on the topic
  6. Have everything available in Excel for further parsing.

And we only scratched the surface in this fundamentals article. There are other options that I’ll explore further but for now you have a nice overview of how Microsoft Forms works and how you can create one.

This article is the first that I’m writing describing the fundamentals of a tool. If you like it, please let me know, and I’ll write more about other tools. Sometimes we focus on advanced topics and forget that some people want to understand how to use the tool in the first place.

Have a suggestion of your own or disagree with something I said? Leave a comment or interact on Twitter and be sure to check out other Microsoft Forms-related articles here.

Photo by Emily Morter on Unsplash

Manuel Gomes

I'm a Project Manager with experience in large projects and companies. I've worked in the past for companies like Bayer, Sybase (now SAP) and I'm currently working for Pestana Hotel Group.

View all posts by Manuel Gomes →

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