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How do I pre-fill a survey with data for each respondent?

There might be times when you want to send out surveys with pre-filled answers to questions.  For example, to get up-to-date contact information, you might want to send out a survey that already contains respondent addresses and phone numbers so that when you ask them to update the information, they only have to make minor edits instead of re-entering everything.

Here are the steps to follow in setting up pre-filled surveys:

  1. Determine if you are going to send email invitations through Vista or distribute the link yourself (via email, on a Web site, etc.).
    • If you send invitations through Vista, you need to add the pre-filled data for each recipient as Custom Field Data in the invitation.  For more information, see Sending Email Invitations from Vista.
    • If you distribute the link yourself, you will need to pass the pre-filled data for each recipient into the survey through the URL.  For more information, see How do I pass data into a questionnaire?.
  2. For each question that is to be pre-filled, you need to specify one of your pre-filled data fields as the Default Value of the question.  The Default Value sets the default answer choice for the question.  If the question has Possible Answers (i.e. Multiple Choice, Select Many), this value must be the exact text (case sensitive) of the answer choice.  For more information, see Using Piping, "Standardize Field Names" in Sending Email Invitations from Vista, and the desciption of the Default Value in the help topic for each question type.


You want to display the Department and Job Function of each of your recipients in a survey and allow them to update this data. You plan to send out email invitations through Vista. Follow these steps:

  1. Add a Text Box question to your survey which asks respondents for their current Department. In the Default Value field for the question enter the value [%Department%].

    prefill example
  2. Similarly, add a Text Box question for Job Function and set the Default Value to the value [%Job Function%].

    prefill example
  3. Click the Launch tab, and then click Launch Wizard.
  4. Select I will send email invitations through Vista, and then click Next.
  5. On the Create a Recipient List page, select one of the options under How do you want to create your recipient list? and then click Next.  For this example, we will use the option Type recipient data directly.

    If you want to use Copy recipient data from another application through the clipboard or Import recipient data from a file, the custom fields and information must already be in the data that you want to copy or import into Vista.
  6. On the Type recipient data directly page, specify two additional Custom Fields for each recipient - Department and Job Function - containing the current Department and Job Function for each recipient according to your records.

    invitation example
  7. Click Next.
  8. On the Standardize Field Names page, in the Standardize Field Name drop down list for Department, select (Add Custom Field).
  9. In the Standardize Field Name drop down list for Job Function, select (Add Custom Field).
  10. Click Next.
  11. Follow the remaining steps to send your invitation to its recipients. 

That's it! When a recipient clicks the link to take the survey from the Invitation email, the Custom Data from their invitation record will be pre-filled in the survey.

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