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2nd Gear: Managing data -- use the power of spreadsheets to evaluate the responses from your forms.  (or return to 1st Gear)

So you’ve made a form, and started collecting data. Now what? How can you see it, and, more importantly, what can you do with it.

Keep in mind that when you create a form, you also create a spreadsheet linked to it. When someone fills out your form, the information goes directly into that spreadsheet. And, since is it a spreadsheet, you can do many things with the data that you collect. We'll take some time to explore what this means to you. 

Sample survey
The image on the left is a form I created; the image on the right is the linked spreadsheet before any responses have arrived.

To move between your form and spreadsheet, click on the “View Responses” button from the form side, or the menubar (Form > Edit Form) from the spreadsheet side. Once you create a form and use the “View Responses” button, you should get a new tab with the spreadsheet, so you can click and toggle between them as you wish.

NOTE: You can also use the “View Live Form” button at any time to see what your form currently looks like. This is a good habit to get into as you design and build your forms.

Here are some other useful tabs from the spreadsheet’s menubar that can help you manage the data you collect.

1.    Notifications -- If your form will be available for responses over an extended period of time, you’ll probably want to set up notifications so you know when new data has arrived.

Choose the “Tools” option from the menubar, then choose “Notification rules”.

In the window that opens, select the type of notification you want to receive.

HINT: You may want to set email notifications right away as you get a form started, then switch to daily digest once you know it’s up and working the way you want it. That way you’ll get one email the day after any new form responses have arrived.

 2.    Response settings -- Your spreadsheet will show you how many responses you’ve currently received to your form. In the area called “Responses” you’ll see a number inside parentheses showing how many responses you currently have in your spreadsheet.

Also, under this section of the spreadsheet’s menubar, you can turn the form off (if you no longer want to collect responses), see a summary of responses, and, if you want to start the spreadsheet all over again, delete all the responses.

The summary of responses shows all responses up to that point, and is the same screen your users will see if you’ve enabled “Publish and show a link to respondents…” in the confirmation (Part 3) section of the form.

NOTE: One reason you may want to title your questions with a short but descriptive title is to make these graphs more useful. 

Response optionsSurvey results
3.    Other menubar options -- Other areas of the spreadsheet you may want to become familiar with at this time are shown below: 
File: Here you can add collaborators (to allow more than one person to manage the spreadsheet…great for collaborative projects), make a copy (if you want to keep the original but use it as a base for a different form), or download it as a different format 
File Dropdown menu
ViewOften times you’ll want to Freeze rows, especially if you’re tracking responses with calculations. (More on that later). Most of the other options are self explanatory. 
View dropdown window
Tools: The Tools menubar gives you access to all scripting features (Gallery, Manager, and Editor) as well as a few other features. We'll explore some of these features when we discuss scripts 
Tools dropdown menu
HelpThe Help dropdown menu is a great resource when you can’t remember how to do things, or don’t know if you can.

Sheets Help will take you to Google’s online directory and database to help you through a variety of features not covered here. And if the question you have isn't answered there, the Help Forums are a great place to pose your question to a worldwide community waiting to help. 

Help dropdown menu
 Functions: The Functions dropdown menu, located at the far right of your toolbars, gives you access to the many spreadsheet functions that you may want to use on the data that comes into your form. A basic understanding of just a few of the formulas can help you complete your work efficiently and accurately.  
function dropdown menu

With this quick tour of the Spreadsheet side of things completed, it's time to cross over to the form side again and see what we can do with a few more advanced features. Let's move into 3rd Gear with a look at some more advanced features.