Creating a survey using LimeSurvey

  • Posted on: 12 April 2011
  • By: ifoulds

LimeSurvey is a web-based application similar to Survey Monkey that allows you to create surveys with a variety of questions for students, parents, or staff to then complete in order for you to obtain feedback, comments, suggestions, etc. Users can complete surveys via any web browser by accessing

if you wish to create your own surveys, one of the IT support staff can create an account for you. You will receive a confirmation e-mail with your login details and can then log in at where you will be greeted by the survey management page with a main menu like this:

To create a new survey, click on the 'Create, import, or copy a survey' button on the top right-hand side:

You will need to enter some basic details for your survey such as a title, description, welcome message, and end message:

On the 'Notification and Data Management' tab, you may choose to receive a basic e-mail nofitication as participants complete the survey, or you may wish to receive the full results via e-mail:

Once you are finished with your general survey details and notification options, click 'Save Survey'. You will then be taken back to the main admin page, with your newly created survey now selected for additional management such as adding questions. First, you will need to create a new question group by clicking the 'Add new group to survey' button on the top right-hand side of your survey management area:

In most instances, you will not be creating lengthy surveys requiring multiple groups of questions, so just the one basic group to hold your questions can be created.Give your question group a title and click Save.


With the question group created, you can now move on to adding questions by clicking the 'Add new question to group' button:

There is a wide variety of question types that you can create within LimeSurvey such as simple Yes/No, multiple choice, rating from 1-5, etc. For a complete overview and to view examples of the question types available, you may refer to the LimeSurvey documentation page on question types. The example below is for a simple Yes/No question where we set a code (anything you wish to reference the question by), the actual text of the question, and an optional help message if the user is unsure as to what the question is prompting them for:

Once you have added a question, you may still go back and edit the question from the main admin page:

Or you may delete a question completely:

When you are finished with adding in all the questions you require, you may test your survey to see how it will look to the end user by clicking on the 'Test this survey' button from the main admin page:

This will then show you how your questions will be displayed and the user will move through answering them.

If you wish to make any changes, you can use the edit or delete buttons as noted previously. Once you are happy with your survey and wish to make it available for people to complete, click the 'Activate this survey' little green arrow button on the top left hand side of the main admin page:

You will be informed that your survey has been activated, and prompted to select a method for controlling users accessing it. If you wish to simply make the survey available for anyone to complete by going to then you can click 'No Thanks', otherwise click 'Switch to closed-access mode' to move on to restricting the survey to a select group of students, parents, staff, etc:

When switching to closed-access mode, tokens are used to keep track of who can access the survey and their responses. To begin, you need to allow LimeSurvey to initialize tokens for your survey:

The most common way to add participants in bulk is via a CSV (comma separated variable) file, which can be created through Excel. Rosters of each class are available at or you can create your own CSV depending on the users you will providing the survey too. You simply need to ensure that the first row within Excel lists firstname, lastname, email and that there are no additional characters surrounding the e-mail address such as below:

You can then select the 'Import tokens from CSV file' button to begin adding your users:

Browse to the location of the CSV file on your computer and the click the 'Upload' button to add your users:

After the prompt that your CSV upload was successful, you may wish to double-check that your participant list is correct by clicking on the 'Display tokens' button:

If you need to edit any of the participants names or e-mail addresses you may do so, and when everything is complete, click the 'Generate tokens' button:

With all your participants created and their associated e-mails set, and now tokens created for them to access the survey, the easiest way to then inform them of the survey being available and provide them with the URL to complete the survey is by sending them an e-mail. Click the 'Send e-mail notification' button to begin:

If you wish to customize the text within the e-mail you may do so here. It will automatically populate {FIRSTNAME}, {SURVEYNAME}, etc. based on the list of participants you provide and the details of your survey. Once you click 'Send Invitations', all the participants will receive an e-mail outlining the details of the survey and a link to complete the survey.

As participants complete the survey, you will be able to view their responses by clicking on the 'Browse responses for survey' button from the main admin page:

Or if participants have responsed to questions but not actually submitted their responses for whatever reason, you can also view these by clicking on the 'View saved but not submitted responses' button:

Your survey will be available for people to respond to until you choose to de-activate it. You may wish to allow a certain period of time for participants to complete the survey, or simply require a certain number of completed surveys before closing the survey. When you are ready to no longer make the survey active, simply click the 'Deactivate this survey' red stop button from the main admin page:

Please note that at any time, you can activate the survey again. When re-activating, you may either choose to restore the previous tokens and therefore list of participants should you wish to allow some people to complete the survey that did not do so in the original time window, or you may choose to create a new list of tokens based on a different group of participants, thus allowing you to re-use the same survey over and over again with the same questions but a different set of users each semester or academic year, for example.