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Tips for Successful Data Capture We've processed millions of survey forms over the past 40 years, from employee and customer satisfaction surveys, to every form of market research and government survey.

Below are some essential tips for compiling a survey for your company or project. Following these guidelines will help ensure accurate results and save you money during data entry.

Survey Form Design

The design of the survey form should be simple, clear and easy to follow. Keep text on the left and response boxes on the right. Where possible, align the response boxes vertically to assist data capture.

Free Text Responses

Free text responses, where opinions or personal preferences can be hand-written, should be kept to a minimum. They tend to be less accurate and more time-consuming to complete, requiring a higher degree of interpretation (and therefore cost) during data entry.

An alternative to free Text is to provide a tick-box list of possible options or choices. Tick box responses provide unambiguous data which is easy to capture and evaluate.

Option Lists

Avoid open-ended, ambiguous questions that might be interpreted incorrectly. Provide a list of options where possible.

Additional Options

When seeking an opinion, for example "strongly agree", "agree", "indifferent", "disagree", "strongly disagree", consider adding "other" which can be interpreted as "Other", "N/A" or "Don't Know" during data entry processing.

Name and Address Details

When seeking to capture name and address details, ensure that you leave adequate space for long surnames and addresses. Always "fence-off" sufficient space for the postcode, especially if it is hand-written.

Gummed Response Forms

Avoid response forms with gummed edges. If data is too close to the gummed edge, the information is at risk when the edges are separated.

Opening gummed responses forms adds extra cost and can often cause response forms to stick together.

Layout of Text and Response Boxes

Keep plenty of space around and between question text and response boxes. This not only helps initial legibility, but assists with accurate data capture.

Survey Reference Number

Where possible, provide a unique reference number for each survey to assist with analysis and for future reference.

In cases where the survey runs into multiple pages, keep the page format the same way up in order to avoid the need for awkward page turning. This will add to your data processing costs.

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