Setting Up Default Answers

Default Answers is a premium feature found on Business and Enterprise plans only

Default answers help to speed up the completion of a survey. Your default will be submitted unless the respondent customises it, or changes their selection. This can be really useful for data cleansing as you can validate the information you already hold and save the respondent from needlessly entering it again.

Default Answers can be static, where you enter a fixed value. For multiple-choice questions, if you use the exact wording of one of the answer options, this will select it.

For example, if you ask for the respondent’s address, and the survey is being sent predominantly to people in one country, you could select that country as the default answer. That would speed up submission for most respondents, while providing the flexibility to change the answer.

You can also create default answers based on answers they've given to questions on previous pages of the survey, from data within the e-mail or SMS contact list, or even from custom variables that are passed within the survey link itself.

Exact behaviour depends on the question type you use. Default answers work with:

  • Multiple Choice (Only One Answer and Multiple Answers)
  • Single Textbox
  • Multiple Textboxes
  • Comments/Essay Box
  • Matrix of radio buttons
  • Matrix of checkbox

Default answers should be used with care, since respondents may be tempted to submit the defaults without reading them properly.

Creating Default Answers

To create a default answer:

  1. Open the Survey Design page for the survey you want to edit.
  2. Click Edit Question next to the question that will have a default answer.
  3. Select the Options Tab, above the question box.
  4. Toggle the Default Answer switch to on.
  5. In the Default Answer field, type or paste the text you want to use as the default answer
    • For a multiple choice question, this needs to exactly match the text of one of the answer options.
    • Alternatively, you can enter optn where n is the number of the answer you want to use, based on the order of answers in the editor. So the first option would be "opt1".
  6. Optionally you can click Insert Piping to reuse an answer from a previous question or other response data as your default answer.

Default Answer and some Question Types

The process of specifying a default answer varies a little according to the question type you select. 

Example: Multiple Text Boxes

To specify a default for one or more text boxes, you need to use the format rowx:Default text||rowy:Other default text where row1 is the first text box as explained in this article.

You cannot target the comments box with the default answer option.

Example: Checkboxes

To specify one default answer, type optn, where n is the number of the answer.

For example: opt1 sets the first option as the default.

To specify more than one default answer, type optn,optn ensuring there is a comma separator between each one.

For example: typing opt1,opt2 sets the first and second answers as the default.

Example: Matrix of Radio

The updated question editor doesn't currently expose the Default Answer option for Matrix questions so you will need to edit them via the old editor by visiting the link /survey/legacyeditor/id/surveyid where the survey id is the numeric id of your survey e.g. 1505840 from the normal design page URL /c/surveys/1505840/design

The syntax for a matrix of radio default answer is rowx:col||rowy:col||rowz:col e.g. row1:1||row2:1||row3:2

You can also use the name of the column (the case has to match) to select that column. For example row1:Strong||row2:Weak

The row and column numbers start from 1 and you can skip rows that you do not need a default answer for.

Example: Matrix of Checkboxes

The updated question editor doesn't currently expose the Default Answer option for Matrix questions so you will need to edit them via the old editor by visiting the link /survey/legacyeditor/id/surveyid where the survey id is the numeric id of your survey e.g. 1505840 from the normal design page URL /c/surveys/1505840/design

The syntax for a matrix of radio default answer is rowx:col,col,col||rowy:col,col,col e.g. row1:1,2,3||row2:1,2,3||row3:2

You can also use the name(s) of the columns (the case has to match) to select that column. For example row1:Weak,Strong||row2:Weak||row3:Strong

The row and column numbers start from 1 and you can skip rows that you do not need a default answer for.

If you need help creating default answers for other question types, please open a support ticket.

If you want to pipe data from custom columns, replace the x in [contact(columnx)] with the number of the custom column. Alternatively, you can use the column name, ensuring it is typed in lowercase, with identical spelling to the column heading and ant spaces removed. To pipe into a multi-row question, see Piping Default Answers into Multi-Row Questions.


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