How to add calculated fields in Google Forms

Need a form? With Google Forms, you can create one in minutes.

But what if you want to run calculations on values from your form submissions? Maybe you want to calculate quiz scores. Or perhaps you want to show your customers a total price for the items they want to buy.

Unfortunately, Google Forms doesn’t offer calculated fields as a built-in feature. But don’t dismiss the tool just yet. In this post, we’ll showcase some good workarounds, starting by bringing out the big gun: the more flexible and powerful Google Sheets.

Pro Tip

Try Jotform’s intuitive form calculation features to discover what makes us the best Google Forms alternative.

Building a basic storefront with Google Forms

This solution may require some technical skills, depending on how detailed you want your form to be. But setting up a simple storefront isn’t too difficult with these steps.

Access form data

Google Forms was originally an add-on for Google Sheets. It became a standalone product years ago, but it still plays nicely with Sheets.

To create a spreadsheet from your form

  • Click Responses on the tab bar above your form
  • Click the Create spreadsheet icon that looks like a spreadsheet in the upper right
  • Select Create a new spreadsheet and name it whatever you want
  • Click Create

Those steps will open a new browser tab with your newly created spreadsheet. Once you have your spreadsheet, you can set up calculations on your data in the usual way. For example, if you wanted to sum up data from a sales form, you’d start by adding a column for the sales total. 

Your formula would look something like this:

After entering your formula to calculate the total, click the check to autofill the remaining rows in the form.

Now you know how much to charge, but the client still doesn’t know what they can expect to pay or how to pay you.

For starters: Email totals to users 

This step is a bit tricky, and we’ll only cover the basics here, but it should get you through. You can use an automation tool like Zapier to automatically send an email with a calculated total when someone submits a form. Your Zap (a workflow connecting two apps together) will consist of two parts — a trigger and an action. These are the steps to create a trigger:

  • Create a new Zap in Zapier
  • Choose Google Sheets as your trigger software
  • Choose New Spreadsheet Row as your trigger event
  • Click Continue
  • Connect your Google account to Zapier, then continue
  • Select the spreadsheet and worksheet you want to pull data from and continue
  • Test your trigger and continue to the action

Now fill out the action section like so:

  • Use Gmail for the action app and Send Email for the action, then continue
  • Connect your Gmail account. 

In the next section, customize the auto-generated email. 

  • Click on the To field and select the column from your sheet with the user’s email address — your form will need to have a field to gather email addresses for this to work.
  • Choose your email address from the dropdown in the From field
  • Fill out the subject of the email and add any copy for the body of the email 

When you fill out the body of the email, you’ll be able to add any data from the new spreadsheet row. You can add the total to your email body by selecting that column. (You might need to click Show all options to see it.) 

When the email is sent, all your customer will see is the number, so you can add something like “Your total is $ {1. total: 78},” where the brackets represent the tag for the amount from the “total” column. But your customer will only see “Your total is $78.”

If you add your PayPal, Cash App, or Venmo link to your email, they can pay you directly from there.

Finish the email form step and test your Zap. If everything looks correct, turn on your Zap.

It’s a lot of work — and there’s room for mistakes. So there’s got to be a better solution, right? 

The next solution: Using an add-on

There aren’t many add-ons that give you the ability to calculate fields. But there is one: Formfacade.

Formfacade works by creating an additional visual layer with more customization options that sits on top of your Google Form. Your visitors will only see Formfacade, not Google Forms itself.

Formfacade gives you a few extra features like calculations. But beyond the additional features and different appearance, your forms are still powered by Google Forms.

Here’s how to get started on the Google Forms side:

Now that everything is set up with Forms, it’s time to configure Formfacade:

  • Select the Formfacade add-on from the add-on menu in the upper-right corner of your form.
  • Click Customize this form. You may need to sign up for a trial or premium membership before the next step.
  • Click Proceed. That will open a new tab.
  • From the Formfacade tab, click the gear icon next to your “total” field.
  • Inside the settings menu for the field, switch to the Answer tab.
  • Set the Appearance drop-down to Read-only.
  • Then use the calculate field to add your calculation. (Use * to multiply and / to divide.)
  • Don’t forget to hit Save.

That works well enough. It certainly was easier than using Zapier, and the results will be instantly visible to your visitors.

The problem is we’ve already just about maxed out what can be done with Formfacade and Google Forms. Calculations are one of the few features Formfacade adds to Google Forms.

You’re still going to have to deal with Google Forms’ other shortcomings. For example, you still can’t accept payments. There must be a better way.

The best solution: Get out of the box

You know the saying “think outside of the box.” In this case, Google Forms is the box. It’s such a common solution that people try to make it work for all purposes. But it was never meant to fit most use cases.

Formfacade is fine. But you then have to pay for an app that changes how Google Forms looks and very little else.

If you want a tool that won’t let you down every time you try to do something even a little advanced, give Jotform a try. It’s easier than you might think.

Getting started with Jotform is easy. Jotform can be seamlessly integrated with Google Sheets, just like Google Forms, or you can use Jotform Tables to track your form data. It’s just as easy to build forms as it is using Google Forms, and Jotform offers a generous, full-featured free tier.

But what about form calculations? Jotform has you covered, with hundreds of form widgets to help you meet any form need, including one for calculations.

form builder multiplication calculation formula
Form calculation widget can be used to take care of various calculations

If you want to score a quiz, Jotform can do that too. If you want to create a simple shop, it has tons of payment integrations. Jotform is the all-in-one tool for out-of-the-box thinkers.

This article is originally published on Feb 11, 2022, and updated on Jun 30, 2022.
AUTHOR
Lee Nathan is a personal development and productivity technology writer. He can be found at leenathan.com.

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