Product Marketing
May 18, 2021

The Ultimate Guide to Types of Survey Questions

A pile of questions marks with two lit.
953 words; 3 min 48 sec reading time


Types of Survey Questions

The type of questions asked in a survey is the most critical factor in determining its success. This guide will cover the different types of survey questions and explore what makes a good survey question. 

It is necessary to practice using different question and answer types to ensure your surveys are more engaging for respondents. Effectively incorporating a variety of questions will provide your research with deeper insights. 

1. Dichotomous Questions

This question type provides two choices that are diametrically opposed, providing clearer, binary answers. Dichotomous questions can be used to separate respondents by specific values like those who "have used" and those who "have yet to use" your product. 

Example: 'Yes' or 'No'; 'True' or 'False'; 'Agree' or 'Disagree'

2. Multiple Choice or Image Chooser

This question type allows a respondent to choose one answer option from the choices provided. Multiple choice questions are easy to answer, and the results are easy to analyze. You also have the option to create an image chooser using multiple choice type questions. If asking for multiple answers or selecting all that apply, use the Checkboxes question type. Be sure to consider all options; respondents will be frustrated if the response they want to give is not provided.

3. Rank order scaling (Dropdown)

This question type can be used if the question has a long list of answer options and you want the respondent to choose one answer or if you want to rank user priorities.

4. Rating scale (Number Slider)

This question type allows a respondent to slide a numeric bar to select their answer. Rating scales measure the direction and intensity of attitudes. The value will be limited to a numeric range of your choosing. Using the same scale across the survey will allow for better comparison and analysis of responses. 

5. Semantic differential scale

This question type uses a 5 or 7 point scale to ask respondents to choose a point that best describes their position.

An example of a slider in a survey.
Semantic differential scale example

6. Open-ended (Single Line / Paragraph Text)

This question type prompts a respondent to answer a field with text, providing space for respondents to write anything they want. This type of question explores qualitative, in-depth aspects of a particular topic and can be used to identify issues and opportunities.

Example: Do you have any comments or suggestions for [product/idea]?

7. Demographic survey questions (Name, Email, Address, Phone, etc.) 

This question type requires respondents to fill in their information. It can be used to identify age, gender, income, race, geographic location, number of children, and other qualifiers. The data collected in demographic survey questions can help you understand your groups to allocate resources better effectively. 

8. Likert Scale

This question type is used for a group of individual questions that all share the same answer options. A Likert scale is a 5 or 7 point scale used to evaluate sentiment. 

An example of a Likert Scale in a survey.
Likert Scale example

9. Visual analog scale (Rating)

This question type allows you to increase the visual appeal of your survey. Use the rating scale to capture respondents' sentiment in Stars, Hearts, Smiley Faces, and Thumbs Up.

An example of a visual analog scale in a survey.
Visual analog scale example

10. Upload data (File Upload)

This question type requires the respondent to select and upload a document or image file relevant to the survey.

11. Net Promoter Score (NPS)

This question type has an index between 0-10 that measures the likelihood of respondents recommending your company's services or products to others. Measuring brand shareability and customer satisfaction is a powerful tool that provides insights into the strengths and weaknesses of your business. 

An example of a Net Promoter Score in a survey.
Net Promoter Score example

Principles and rules for writing good survey questions

The right survey questions are the most critical aspect of any market research. Questionnaire attributes such as language and wording, question type, and answer type help lead to higher response rates and can minimize survey bias. 

Remember that the survey questions you ask must be designed to achieve your overall research goals and objectives. Take a look at our helpful guidelines for making good survey questions:

  • Select the right question type.
    – Quantitative questions are directly measurable. They provide clean data but limit answers for respondents to choose from.
    – Qualitative questions allow respondents to express their feelings, thoughts, and actions in their own words. Even though they can be difficult to analyze, they will provide deeper insights. 
  • Keep questions short, use simple language.
    – Questions should be complete phrases that are easy to understand and answer. Use as few words as possible to pose the question and look for shorter synonyms to replace longer words. 
  • Be as specific as possible in what you ask.
    – Avoid vague qualifiers when more precise estimates can be obtained.
  • Keep your survey neutral.
    – Provide an equal number of positive and negative response options and state both sides of a response scale in the question. Using a balanced scale that gives respondents an equal number of answer choices around a mid-point will promote neutrality rather than force responses that do not match true feelings. To further minimize bias, do not boast about your products or services in an interview or questionnaire. 
  • Ask "how…"
    – Use dichotomous questions sparingly since they will limit the value of the data you collect. Instead, try phrasing questions to capture detailed data, which will lead to more actionable insights.  
  • Keep all questions relevant.
    – Skip proposing hypothetical situations your respondents may never face. 
  • Avoid asking double-barreled questions.
    – Asking two or more questions at once will confuse respondents and misrepresent their opinions. 
  • Test the questions by asking whether they will achieve the survey objectives.
    – Put yourself in the place of a respondent and make sure you interpret questions in the same way as a researcher intended. 



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