With validation, you can request or require respondents to complete unfinished questions in your survey. You can also use validation to ensure that question responses match a predetermined format, such as a valid email address or phone number.

Validation is set using the validation menu, located to the right of a selected question in the Edit Survey tab.

validation options menu

In your survey, you can set the following types of validation:

  • Force Response: Require a question response before allowing the respondent to continue.
  • Request Response: Ask the respondent if they would like to go back and answer unanswered questions before moving on in the survey. This is useful when you want to increase question response rates while minimizing respondent fatigue.
  • Minimum Length: Specify a minimum character length for the response.
  • Maximum Length: Specify a maximum character length for the response.
  • Character Range: Specify a range of acceptable character lengths for the response.
  • Content Validation: Specify a format that the response must match, such as email address or postal code.
  • Custom Validation: Design a custom condition that must be met for a respondent to continue.

Forcing Responses

If certain questions in your survey are more important than others, you may want to set Force Response. This options requires that respondents answer the question before they can progress to the next page of the survey. If they try to progress without answering the question, they will see a message letting them know they must answer the question to proceed.

Force Response message

Force Response error message

To set Force Response on a question:

  1. Click the question.

    click question
  2. Select Force Response.

    force response
Qtip: To set Force Response on multiple questions, select all of the questions and then choose Force Response. For more information, view Selecting Multiple Questions.

Requesting Responses

Request Response allows you to remind respondents that they missed a question without requiring that they go back and answer it. This can be a tactful way to increase question response rates without irritating your respondents. When Request Response is set, respondents will be asked if they would like to go back and answer any unanswered questions before they move to a new page.

Request Response error message

Request Response error message

To set Request Response on a question:

  1. Click the question.

    click question
  2. Click the Validation Options drop-down and select Force Response.

    select request response

Content Validation

Set Content Validation to ensure that a question response fits the expected response type. When asking respondents to enter their email, for example, you can use Content Validation to ensure that their answer matches the format of an email address. If a respondent tries to move to the next page and their answers do not match the Content Validation requirements, they will see a message prompting them to fix their answers before they can continue.

content validation error message
Qtip: By itself, Content Validation specifies that respondents must answer in the given format if they choose to answer the question, but they can also choose to leave it blank. Add Force Response or Request Response in addition to Content Validation if you would like to require or encourage a response.

To view Content Validation options for a specific question, click the question, then click Content Validation.

content validation

Text Entry Content Validation

In Text Entry questions, you can designate the format an answer must fit.

text entry content type

The response to this question must be a valid Email Address.

Text entry questions have the following Content Validation options:

  • Email Address: Response must match the format of a standard email address, like as in
  • Phone Number: Response must be a valid phone number. Click the drop down menu to choose between US, CA, UK, AU, NZ, and NL phone numbers.
  • US State: Response must be a US state.
  • Postal Code: Response must be a valid postal code. Click the drop-down menu to choose between US, CA, UK, AU, NZ, and NL postal codes.
  • Date: Response must fit the specified date format. Choose between mm/dd/yyyy, dd/mm/yyyy, and yyyy/mm/dd.
  • Number: Response must be a numerical entry. Specify and minimum and maximum value, as well as maximum number of decimals.
  • Text Only (Non-numeric): Response must contain only text characters (no numbers or symbols).
Qtip: To verify a respondent’s email, create an initial field with email address Content Validation, and a second email field with Custom Validation that pulls piped text from the previous email field. For more information, see Validation Tips.

Constant Sum Content Validation

In Constant Sum questions, you can designate a required total value. To enable this feature, click Must Total and enter a value.

Must Total

The sum of all the choices in this question must total 100.

Pick, Group, and Rank Content Validation

In Pick, Group, and Rank questions, you can specify the number of total items that must be selected or a minimum and maximum number that each group must contain. To enable this feature, click Must Select or Each Group Contains and enter minimum and maximum values.

pickgroupandrank content validation options

Between 3 and 5 of the items in this question must be placed in a group.

Answer Range and At Least validation

In Hot Spot, Multiple Choice (multiple answer), and Matrix Table (multiple answer), you can specify a minimum number or range of answer choices. To enable this feature, lick At Least or Answers Range and enter minimum and maximum values.

hot spot content options

In this Hot Spot question, at least three regions must be selected.

Creating Custom Error Messages

For each way a participant might give an invalid answer, Qualtrics has a pre-defined error message. If you’d like to customize these messages, follow the steps below.

To create new Validation messages:

  1. At the top of the Edit Survey tab, click Survey Options

  2. Select Use Custom Survey Validation Messages and click Load a Saved Message.

  3. Select the Library you would like the messages to be saved in, and click New Message.

  4. Give a Description for this set of customized messages.

  5. Click the green plus button to create a message entry.

  6. In the Error column, select which system message you would like to customize.

  7. Qtip: To add a message to the system defaults list, select New. This would be appropriate if you want to create a new error to be used in Custom Validation.
  8. Under the Message column, type the text you would like to display to the respondent.

  9. Qtip: Some default message texts include %1. This code will insert different numbers depending on the validation options that you have set in your survey. It might tell the respondent how many characters should be entered or how many choices need to be answered.
  10. If needed, click the green plus button to specify additional messages to edit.

  11. Click Save.

Qtip: Custom validation messages can also be created and edited in the Message Library.

To select an existing set of Custom Validation messages:

  1. Select Use Custom Survey Validation Messages and click Load a Saved Message.

  2. Select the Library, and the message collection within that library that you would like to use.

Custom Validation

Can’t find the type of Validation you’re looking for? Build your own using Custom Validation. Custom Validation is available with all question types, allowing you to set your own validation conditions and error messages.

To set Custom Validation on a question:

  1. Click the question.

    click question
  2. In the Validation Options, click Custom Validation.

    custom validation
  3. Set a condition that must be met for the Validation to pass. For more information on setting logic conditions, see Using Logic. To ignore capitalization, select Ignore Case.

    logic condition
  4. In order to pass validation, the text in this question must match the country in which the respondent is located.

  5. Choose an error message to display when the condition is not met. Choose a message from your Library or create a new one.

    create error message
  6. Click Save.


Validation Tips

Tried and true tips from the Qualtrics validation experts.

Testing Validation

We all make mistakes, even the Survey Pros here at Qualtrics! Usually they aren’t a big deal, but mistakes on validation can be frustrating for survey participants, and can even sometimes prevent them from completing their response. Be sure to test the survey to check validation before sending it out.

Matrix Table Validation

If you set Force Response on a Matrix Table, each row in the matrix will need to be answered for the validation to pass. For this reason, we don’t recommend using Force Response in Matrix Tables that contain an optional response “other” row.

Verifying an Email Address

Validation can be used to ensure that two fields of text are the same. Follow these steps to set up verification on two text fields, like an email address.

  1. For the first email field, choose Email Address Content Validation.

    valid email address
  2. In the Validation Type options, click Custom Validation.

    custom validation
  3. Set a logic condition to require that the second email field is Equal to the first email field. Use Piped Text to pull in the email from the previous text field.

    verify email address