Online Surveys = Ongoing Insights

3 Ways to Prepare Your Survey Data for Easier Analysis and Reporting

3 Ways to Prepare Your Survey Data for Easier Analysis and Reporting

datareportcleanupSeeing results immediately is one of the many great things about running your own online surveys; no more waiting for someone else to collect and tally interviews and send along the numbers.

But fast access to data doesn’t mean you should race to analysis.

Ideally, you took some time to develop a clear goal for your survey to frame your assessment of the results.

There are also three quick, easy things you can do to format your results so you can swiftly spot and share interesting findings.

First, make sure the results are configured in a way that makes it easy to read them. This may sound obvious, but there are lots of programs that produce numbers that aren’t easy to decipher. SurveyMonkey’s results pages helpfully default to bar charts and data tables.

What I like to do to make things even easier is to add numbers to the charts, so I can see both the actual numbers and the size of the bars as I scroll down the survey. Here’s how: go to Customize, then Display Options, and finally check Data in Chart. Because I want to do this for all questions I also check Apply to all, so I only have to do this one time.

A second formatting tip is to remove decimal points from the displayed charts. This takes away clutter from the presentation, allowing you to focus on the far more important whole numbers.

Note: this doesn’t change the underlying data or the size of the bars in a bar chart; it just makes the whole thing significantly more readable. In the process, you also eliminate the “false precision” of showing super detailed findings. Go to Display Options and Decimal places to get this done.


Third, when answer options are random and not part of a scale, sort the options from highest frequency to lowest, or vice versa. This will make the winners—or the losers—pop. To do this, go to the data table and click on the down arrow next to Responses, and sort in Ascending (smallest to largest) or Descending (largest to smallest) order.


These may be basic tweaks to the presentation of data, but they make a big difference. And all of these settings are ones you only have to do once, so you’ll be perfectly positioned as new data pour in and you have to do your analysis on deadline.

See how much easier it to see what’s going on in our Before survey than it is in our After survey? Moreover, the resulting cognitive savings are multiplied across all questions in the survey.



After  OrganizedData

Have any more questions for our Survey Scientist or any customization tips of your own? Let us know in the Comments below!

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  • Loretta Mills

    Brilliant! My data is now much clearer. thanks for the tips!

    • KTsurveymonkey

      Glad they helped you out, Loretta!

  • Elyssa Savov

    I think they meant to say ‘…how much easier it is to see whats going on in our AFTER survey than our Before survey…’
    Thanks these tips are great! Might assist me a whole lot for my upcoming research proposal next semester.

  • Teresa

    Thanks very good

  • Teresa


  • Paul O fm New Jersey

    Is there any way to separate all the people who answered “yes” to a Question from the “No’s” before look at the data further?
    Thank you,

  • Thanks Jon, that was really helpful! I wasn’t aware that you could tweak those display settings.

  • Donna Belrose

    I need to add data from last year’s survey to the powerpoint chart created with this year’s data. Is there a way to edit the data in the powerpoint chart created by SurveyMonkey?

    • KTsurveymonkey

      Hi there, Donna-

      We do offer some ways you cant edit charts if the data is within the same survey design. However, if your data is collected within two different designs, you would have to export the data and combine the data manually. Here’s more on the options you can use if the data is within one analysis:

  • hesham

    Thanks very good



  • muhrom785 likely the formated

  • Barb Eh

    Just wanted to say how helpful these three tips are – wish I’d seen them a while ago!

  • Heather

    I am new to surveymonkey, but was asked to design a survey for a class I am taking. I now need to take the data and create a presentation (powerpoint or something like it). I was able to cut and copy some data and could provide the link, but I really want to be able to display some of the bar graphs in my presentation and those were not showing up when I cut and pasted. I tried exporting data and I must have done something wrong as it did not really do much. Does anyone have any suggestions for me? Thanks.

  • Lisa Higgins

    You comment that “SurveyMonkey’s results pages helpfully default to bar charts and data tables.” I almost always download the data into Excel for further customisation and e.g. to create before/after comparisons. However the default setting for many of the downloaded graphs is pie charts, which I think we all agree are not usually the best way of displaying data! Plus, none of the other tweaks you have mentioned above ‘stick’ when the data is exported into Excel. Any tips or advice please? And/or would your development team be able to give us the functionality to specify desired ‘defaults’ for the graphs and data when we export them? That would save me so much time.

    • KTsurveymonkey

      HI Lisa-

      Thanks for your feedback. The data does default to the chart type that best fits the particular question type. Generally most charts default to bar charts. Unfortunately we don’t have a way to to have customized defaults so that a particular chart type is always selected. The reason for that is that some question types will not export into certain chart types.

      If you look to the right of the SurveyMonkey page, you will see a “Feedback” tab. Please feel free to provide your feature request here! That info goes directly to our developers, and the more we hear, the more likely you are to see changes moving forward. We can certainly see how this would be helpful!

  • Pilar Quintos Francisco

    May I know if Survey Monkey has features to compare pre-survey data against post-survey data? Thanks

    • KTsurveymonkey

      Hi Pilar-

      Could you please give us a bit more background on what you meant by “pre-survey data”? Is this data you have outside of SurveyMonkey, or data from another survey that was taken in SurveyMonkey?


  • Rick Lawrence

    How do I cross-reference survey results in one survey? I mean, I need to find not just a general average salary for the profession I’m surveying, but average salary by region (which I’ve collected as one of the survey responses).

  • Mary S. Ville

    Hi! Hope you can help.

    I have my bar graph exactly the way I need it. Everything is there and it looks great, except for being squished, horizontally. It seems that, in particular, the left margin is much wider than it needs to be. The accompanying data table uses much wider margins and looks great — is there a way to get the bar graph to use the same margins as the data table?

    Bottom line: I only have four characters to use as labels on the horizontal axis, creating ridiculously tall, skinny, and truncated labels.

    This is the only problem I’ve run into so far though — everything else has been impressive, thank you!


    (Edit: I shared the pdf, but it doesn’t show the data table for comparing widths.)

    • MFsurveymonkey

      Hi Mary! We’re glad to hear that you’re finding our tool useful!
      At the moment the charts and data tables are automatically generated. However you can try to customize them according to your preferences.
      Just a quick note that the options available will also depend on the question type and the chart type. Feel free to see what can do here:

      I hope this helps and that you continue to enjoy your experience with us :)

  • Kimberly Bolanos

    Hi may I know if Survey Monkey has features to compare pre-survey data against post-survey data? I made a pre test and a post test on survey monkey and need to compare data does monkey survey have a feature for this

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