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Multiple Choice Question

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About Multiple Choice Questions

The multiple choice question type allows the respondent to choose one or multiple options from a list of possible answers. This is the most common question type due to its simplicity and ease of use for both the survey creator and the survey taker.

What is the capital of Uruguay? Followed by a list of choices

Qtip: If you can’t find the answer you’re looking for on this page, try formatting answer choices, formatting questions, and question options.

Single Answer Variations

The single answer format allows a respondent to select one, and only one, answer choice. To make your question single answer, enable the Allow one answer option.
the "allow one answer" option enabled for a multiple choice question

In the survey builder, you’ll notice that single answer questions always have radio buttons (circles). You can change how these buttons appear to your respondents based on the layout you have selected in the Look & Feel menu.

Qtip: Although respondents can change their choice on a single-answer question, they can’t uncheck it. To give your respondent the option to uncheck their selected answer, you can use a multiple answer variation and then turn on Make Answer Exclusive for each answer choice.a multiple answer multiple choice question where exclude from analysis is on every answer choice

List Format

The List format is the default format for multiple choice questions. In this format, answer choices are presented to respondents in a list view.

a multiple choice question in the list format

Dropdown

The Dropdown format displays answer choices as a dropdown list; respondents can only pick one answer choice.

a multiple choice question in dropdown format

If you need to edit the choices available, select Click here to edit choices. You will then be able to click choices to edit them.

a dropdown multiple choice question in edit mode

Qtip: Have a long list of choices? No need to type them in one at a time! If you have the list in a spreadsheet, or even in a Word document, you can simply copy the entire list and paste it into the first choice in Qualtrics. Qualtrics will populate the list for you. Make sure the list is formatted so there is one line break in between each choice. Be careful of formatting that may carry over from Word and other rich text editing software – you may need to remove formatting on the question.

Select Box

The Select box format displays answer choices in a list respondents can scroll through. Respondents can select only one answer choice.

a multiple choice question set to the select box variation

If you need to edit the choices available, select Click here to edit choices. You will then be able to click choices to edit them.

a select box multiple choice question in edit mode

Single Answer Validation & Response Requirements

the validation section on a single response question

Single answer questions have a variety of response requirements you can add to the questions. The Add requirements toggle allows you to add force response or request response validation to your question. The Add validation toggle allows you to add custom validation to your question.

Multiple Answer Variations

The multiple answer format allows a respondent to select multiple answer choices for a question. You can limit how many choices the respondent is allowed to select by customizing the validation options described at the end of this section. To make your question multiple answer, enable the Allow multiple answers option.
the allow multiple answer toggle on a multiple choice question

List Format

The List format is the default format for multiple choice questions. In this format, answer choices are presented to respondents in a list view.

the list option enabled on a multiple choice question

In the editor, you’ll notice that multiple answer questions always have checkboxes. You can change how these buttons appear to your respondents based on the layout you have selected in the Look & Feel menu.

Select Box

The Select Box format displays answer choices in a list respondents can scroll through. Respondents can easily select multiple answer choices through several methods. To select options in a row, they can click and drag their mouse, or hold down Shift when selecting. To select non-sequential options, they can hold down Ctrl (on a PC) or Cmd (on a Mac) when clicking.

the select box option enabled on a multiple choice multi answer question

If you need to edit the choices available, select Click here to edit choices. You will then be able to click choices to edit them.

a select box variation in edit mode

Multiple Answer Validation & Response Requirements

Multiple select questions come with some of the same validation options that singe select questions do, but there are also options that are unique to multiple select questions. There are even a few ways to limit how many answers respondents can select. These options are found in the Response Requirements section of the survey builder.

the response requirements section of the survey builder

  • Add Requirements:
    • Force response: Force the respondent to select at least one response before they can proceed.
    • Request response: Request that the respondent try to answer the question before they proceed, but give them the option to refuse.
  • Add validation:
    • Minimum choices selected: Require respondents to select a certain number of answers before they can proceed with the rest of the survey. In this case, there is no maximum number of responses, only a minimum.
      a multiple choice question with a minimum choices set to 1
    • Answers Range: Specify a minimum and maximum number of responses the respondent can provide.
      a multiple choice question with answer range validation set to 1 min response and 5 max responses
    • Custom Validation: Require respondents to select specific choices before they can proceed. See Custom Validation and Custom Validation Messages.the custom validation option on a multiple choice question

Answer Positions

You can change the arrangement of your answer choices to improve the appearance of your survey and the way information is presented.

Qtip: These options are available for both single answer and multiple answer questions. This option is only available for list format multiple choice questions.

Vertical

List choices vertically.

a multiple choice question in the vertical format

Horizontal

List choices horizontally.

a multiple choice question in the horizontal format

You can also adjust the Label position so that the choice text appears to the side of or above the radio buttons.

  • Above: The labels appear above the radio buttons.
    a multiple choice question in the horizontal format. the labels are above the radio buttons
  • Side: The labels appear to the side of the radio buttons. Note that when you select “side,” the positioning of the radio button will vary based on Look & Feel layout.
    a horizontal multiple choice question with the side label format

Qtip: On mobile and smaller desktop screens, this setting will revert back to vertical.

Preview of a desktop and mobile screen side by side to show the change

Column

If a question has a lot of choices, you can split these choice into columns by selecting the Column option. Once you have this setting selected, a Number of columns field will appear where you can adjust the number of columns in your question.

a multiple choice question in the column format with 2 columns

Qtip: Columns will not revert to vertical lists on mobile or smaller desktop screens.

Data Analysis

Once your responses have been collected, Qualtrics offers various methods to create reports both in and out of the platform. From the Data & Analysis tab, you can view and manipulate your survey responses on an individual basis.

Downloaded Data Format

For single answer variations, you’ll find one column in your dataset for the multiple choice question. Each choice in your question has a coded value, or number associated with the choice. The number for the selected choice is displayed in each participant’s row.

Qtip: For a refresher on how to check or change these coded values, refer to our recode values page.

For multiple answer variations, there are two data export formats based on what export settings you use.

If you select Split multi-value fields into columns, each choice will include its own column in the dataset. On each participant’s row, there will be a “1” in the columns of the choices they selected.

CSV of multiple answer question, where each answer has a column

If you deselect Split multi-value fields into columns, your question will have only one column in your data set, and the values of the selected choices will be comma-separated beneath it.

CSV of multiple answer data where each answer is comma separated under the same column

Graphs and Tables in Reports

From the Reports tab, you can view aggregate data with pre-made reports as well as create your own.

There are many visualization types available for multiple choice questions, depending on the type of reports you choose to build.

Note that when a question is formatted with the multiple answer setting, many visualizations for that question will display choice count, which may a higher number than the total number of respondents since each respondent can select multiple answer choices. Be careful of the metrics you have set (in results or advanced-reports).

FAQs