Likert Scale Revisited

Creating surveys in SharePoint is relatively easy and there are many different question types that can be used. However, one of the more interesting question types is the Likert scale question. You know, the question that asks something like: How much do you like chocolate: and then gives you five possible answers: Hate it, dislike it, don’t care one way or the other, like it, live for chocolate. Ok, so the question may not be about chocolate and the number of possible responses can vary greatly, but the point is that it allows the survey taker to rank their option on a scale.

One of the problems I have found is that the way SharePoint composes the Likert scale is that it has a generic question portion (some might even think of it as a section title) which appears above the scale and then individual options in rows beneath this question with each row representing one instance of the Likert scale. I suppose a picture would better explain that so, here is an example:

You can see that I’ve used the question section to tell the survey taker that the following questions use a scale of 1-10 where 10 indicates highly satisfied and 1 is highly dissatisfied. I then proceed to ask four questions with the first question being: How well do you understand SharePoint? The problem clearly is that it is difficult to tell where one question ends and the next one begins. This makes the survey hard for the survey taker to understand and they just get frustrated and close the survey. That is not what you want. Suppose you try to add extra line breaks between each choice?

Unfortunately, there is no way to add a page break between the choices because SharePoint just ignores the separate line returns. I even tried to add blank spaces and tab characters to the separating lines, but all of these are ignored as well. I even tried the HTML trick of inserting   to represent a space that should not be ignored, I then just got a new line with   displayed in the left column.

Next I tried just typing a period on the line between each question. This generated the space between questions, but generated another row of radio buttons:

The problem is that the text in the left column is too long and SharePoint has no way for the user to control the width of this area. As an example, suppose I word my questions differently such as the following question that asks survey takers how well they understand different web parts?

This question is a lot easier to understand, but only because the text for each line does not need to wrap over two or more lines.

But if I put my question in the Question column so that it appears above the Likert scale, I could just display the Likert scale with no left text so a question might look like the following:

But notice that I do not get the radio buttons to make an actual selection. Therefore it appears that the sub-question must consist of at least one character.

Another option might be to enter as my sub-question, a period.

At least this gives me the line of radio buttons to make a selection, but I may not like the dot sitting off to the right and survey takers may question what the dot means. So I started looking for other symbols that I could use instead of the dot. I found that by holding the ALT key and then entering the ASCII decimal value for a character on the numeric keypad, I could insert special characters as the sub-question. For example, press ALT-16 would give me a right pointing arrow head (if you are using the numeric keypad, make sure you have NumLock on when you do this) while ALT-17 would give me a left pointing arrow head as shown below.

When I save this question and display the survey, the arrow head still appears to the left of the row of radio buttons.

This solution means that I must enter every sub-question as a separate Likert question with a single sub-question consisting of the arrowhead as shown in the following figure with a variety of symbols.

While this solution may not have been the one I wanted (just adding blank lines between each sub-question, it does kind of work around the problem. Anyone else have any other solution to this problem?

Having a great day at SQL-Saturday Tampa. C’ya next time.


2 comments on “Likert Scale Revisited

  1. I’ve found a way to provide a very visible seperation of sub-questions in a likert scale survey question.

    To the end of each sub-question add one space and then exactly 16 underscore characters. This number of characters forces the apparent “line” to be placed on its own line between each subquestion. The underscore characters MUST be on the same line as the sub-question or else you end up with additional likert scale response buttons.

    Section is Effective ________________
    Section enhances the Mission ________________
    Section is Branch Specific ________________
    Section should be Branch Specific ________________

    Another option, similiar to the orignal posting is the add a bullet in the front of each sub-question. Rather than dealing with learning the ASCII charachter key combination, simply write the subquestions in a document editor like MS Word, and then apply bullet style, or any numbering style you prefer. Then just copy and past the sub-questions from the editor into the likert scale field.

    • Section is Effective
    • Section enhances the Mission
    • Section is Branch Specific
    • Section should be Branch Specific


    A. The bullets will show up with only one space between the bullet and sub-question when filling out the survey, however, upon initial entry in the survey design it will appear to have many more spaces.

    B. I have only used the round bullet from MS Word. If you desire something else, you may need to use trial and error to see what SharePoint will allow.

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