How to use Dynamic Fields in Google Forms

Surveys have been around since 3800 BCE, when the ancient Babylonians developed the first census. Since then, surveys have evolved into one of the most effective ways to conduct research and gather feedback or responses.

In the digital era, we use surveys to collect all sorts of information. Businesses and nonprofits use survey forms to collect feedback about their products or services. Healthcare providers gather intake information from new patients. And teachers even use them to create virtual tests and quizzes for students.

Google Forms is one of the most popular free platforms for creating forms. Mobile-friendly, customizable, and collaborative, Google Forms offers a design that’s intuitive enough to allow anyone to create a survey — even those without much technical skill.

What’s more, a form wizard helps create surveys from templates based on user needs or provides predictive suggestions for what question or answer should come next. In addition, the results from your survey automatically upload to spreadsheets.

The Google Forms Dynamic Fields add-on streamlines form creation. Here’s what you need to know about how to use Dynamic Fields.

Pro Tip

Find out why Jotform is the best Google Forms alternative.

Why Dynamic Fields?

Google Forms’s Dynamic Fields add-on makes survey creation and management quick and painless by auto-populating answer options to your form questions from other data sources.

It doesn’t matter if a question is in multiple-choice, checkbox, or dropdown response format — the add-on can pull selections from data sources like Google Sheets, Calendar, Contacts, Groups, and Google Drive.

This opens up a range of possible uses, such as

  • Sales inquiries. Create service requests or product order forms tied directly to a working inventory spreadsheet. 
  • Class signups. Allow students to pick the instructor they’d like to work with from a spreadsheet list. 
  • Event reservations. Streamline RSVPs by auto-populating a field with upcoming calendar items.

Google Forms’s Dynamic Fields also gives you the ability to

  • Create forms faster. Creating surveys in Google Forms is simple, but Dynamic Fields offers a shortcut so you don’t have to type out answer options for every question. If a survey question is based on an existing Google spreadsheet or document, you can map it to your survey so you don’t have to retype the same answers in your form.
  • Avoid redundant tasks. Similarly, if you’re creating a form and a corresponding spreadsheet from scratch, you can save yourself from duplicating work by adding all responses to a spreadsheet first. Once you’ve done that, you can write out the questions in Google Forms and map your spreadsheet columns to the appropriate questions to auto-populate the answer choices.
  • Update data across products automatically. If you have forms tied to data that changes frequently (such inventory availability or event dates), Dynamic Fields eliminates the need to manually update your form every time the data changes. For example, if you use an event signup form on an ongoing basis, any changes made to your calendar will automatically be reflected in the form, so you never have to worry about users selecting unavailable dates.

How do I use Dynamic Fields?

Mapping data into Google Forms with Dynamic Fields may seem complex, but it’s a surprisingly intuitive process. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Install the add-on. Go to the Google Forms Dynamic Fields add-on page, and click the Install button. If you have multiple Google accounts, you’ll get a prompt to select the account you want to add it to.
  2. Create or open the form you want to use with Dynamic Fields. Either write the question you want to map data to or decide which one you want to use.
  3. Click on the add-on icon (the puzzle piece) at the top of the form, then select Dynamic Fields.
  4. Select Create mapping. In the dialog box that opens, select the question you’d like to map data to.
  5. Choose the type of data source you’d like to use (options include Google Sheet, Contacts, and Google Calendar). Then pick the specific data source to pull from. If your data source is a Google Sheet, you’ll also have to select which sheet and column to map data from. Note that you’ll only be able to choose data sources that are available in your Google Drive.
  6. Once you’ve selected your data source, press the Save button and close the box.
  7. Click on the add-on icon again, select Dynamic Fields, and this time click the Update mapping option. You should see the answer fields to your survey questions auto-populate with the options from your data source. If there are any errors or text you want to change, you can edit each response individually in the form.

If you’re looking for an alternative to Google Forms, Jotform offers even more robust form creation capabilities. Try it out to see how online forms can improve your workflows and help you reach new levels of productivity.

This article is originally published on Oct 05, 2021, and updated on May 10, 2022.

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