Composing Ranking Questions

Top  Previous  Next

Ranking questions are useful if you need respondents to rank multiple items from best to worst.  Three response formats are possible: drag and drop, then two traditional options, dropdown and numeric entry.  In any case, respondents end up ranking the best item as "1" and the worst item as "K", where K is the total number of items to be ranked.  Each value must only be used once.  An error message prompts respondents if the ranking question is not completed properly.


Ranking Question Layout


The Ranking question has four main sections:


1.  Header 1

2.  Header 2

3.  Question

4.  Footer


The Question text line appears directly above the response options.  The Question text line is indented according to the Question Indent Width you specify in the Survey Settings | Page Format dialog.  The styles you apply (color, bold, size, etc.) in the Question row also apply to the response options.


The Ranking Question dialog has five buttons: Rename, Advanced..., Preview, OK and Cancel.


Rename        Lets you rename the current question.


Advanced...This button accesses advanced settings for this question, including customized error text for the respondent.


Preview        Lets you preview how the Internet browser displays the current question.


OK        Saves changes to the current question and returns to the Write Questionnaire dialog.


CancelReturns to the Write Questionnaire dialog without saving changes to the current question.


Format controls (Color, Size, Bold, Italic, Underline, and Justification) are available for formatting text using the paintbrush paintbrush icon.



Specifying Response Options


Specify response options by clicking the Response Options tab.  When you specify response options for a ranking question, you are creating/using a "predefined" list of response items that can be used in this question and in other questions.  This predefined list has a name (up to 24 characters, starting with a letter).  By default, the list name is QuestionNameList, but you can change this name if you wish.


1.  From the Response Options tab, select an existing list of items, or add a new list of items by clicking the Add... button.  


2.  If adding new items, type the list item in the space provided.  


3.  Click OK when finished and the list item is added.


Tip: If you are adding many response options at the same time, you can save time by pressing ENTER twice after typing each list item.  Pressing ENTER twice is equivalent to clicking OK and then clicking Add....


Time-Saving Hint: You can cut-and-paste lists of response options from Microsoft Word or Excel by highlighting the array of items in Word or Excel, pasting to the clipboard using Ctrl+C or the Copy button in Word or Excel and then by clicking the Paste list member(s) from the clipboard icon pastequestion.


A numeric index is displayed at the left of your list items for reference, but is not displayed as part of the question.  


Click OK to save your changes and to return to the Ranking Question dialog.


Randomizing Response Options


To randomize response items for a question, from the Response Options tab, click Randomize Response Options.  This randomizes all items except for any Other Specify or "None of the Above" options at the bottom of the list.  When using this method to randomize options, information regarding the specific order shown to each respondent is not saved in the data.


If you need additional flexibility for randomizing a subset of the range of items beyond that provided with this simple dialog, you have great power and flexibility when constructing lists and using the Randomize command.  When you randomize list items using constructed lists, information is saved in the database regarding the specific order shown to each respondent.


Re-ordering, Copying and Pasting Response Options


The "up" and "down" arrow icons can be used for moving the selected response option up or down in the list.  


You can also highlight a single or multiple items and cut or copy-and-paste the items to a new position on this list, or to a response list for another select-type, ranking, or constant-sum question.  Highlight the item(s) to be moved or copied, then click the Copy or Cut icons.  Move the cursor to a new place on the list (or to a response list for a different question).  Click the Paste icon.


Ranking Settings


Ranking Format


Drag to Container respondents drag and drop the items from one container (rectangular area) to another container (rectangular area) on the screen to sort them from best to worst.


Sort Vertically respondents drag and drop the items within the same container (rectangular area) to sort them vertically (up and down) from best to worst.


Sort Horizontally respondents drag and drop the items within the same container (rectangular area) to sort them horizontally (left to right) from best to worst.


Numeric Input Boxes or Dropdowns.  If you use dropdowns, integers 1 through n are automatically provided.  You can only use these preset integers within dropdowns in a ranking question.  If you want to use other characters or words, such as "best, middle, worst", you have that flexibility if specifying a ranking question within a grid.


Left, Right (Top) and Right (Bottom) labels for the Drag to Container format here you type the text to display above and below the sorting containers.


Default Text (dropdowns only)

Text to display when the respondent has not ranked an item yet.


Require Response to Question

Specifies whether respondents are required to answer the question.


Number of Items to Rank

Indicate whether respondents are required to rank all items, or a range of items (such as ranking only the top three, or ranking from three to five items).  A question is counted toward your license capacity for each response option that is ranked.


Note: If you allow respondents to rank a range of items (e.g. from three to five items), the default error text ("Rank Count") for Ranking questions on the Survey Settings | Error Messages tab will not be appropriate.  You may update that error message for the current ranking question using the Advanced button on the edit Ranking Question dialog.  You may use ErrMin() and ErrMax() Sawtooth Script instructions to retrieve the minimum and maximum range values.


Dropdown Settings (only applicable if Ranking Format is Dropdown)

Specify the default text such as "click here" to display in the dropdown for ranking.


Formatting Response Options


On the Settings tab, the number of response options you specified for this question is displayed in the # Response Options field (which you cannot edit).  Response options can be formatted in a single column, or over multiple columns by specifying a value greater than 1 in the Number of Columns field.  For example, if you have 11 response options (say, colors) and specify four columns, the response options are distributed as follows:


Which of these colors is your favorite?


 1) Red                4) Blue                7) Violet        10) Magenta

 2) Purple        5) Yellow        8) Brown        11) Gray

 3) Pink                6) Green        9) Orange


Referencing Ranking Questions in Sawtooth Script










[% Q1_4 %]



For ranking questions, each response option contains a numeric value.  You refer to each response option within a ranking question using underscore "_" notation.  For example, [% Q1_4 %] returns the numeric rank value for the  fourth response option in Q1.




Page link: