How to add ranking questions in Google Forms

Ranking questions assess audience preferences, but Google Forms lacks a direct feature for this, necessitating a workaround. This article guides you through creating ranking questions in Google Forms and points out its limitations. For a smoother experience, consider Paperform, which easily handles ranking questions.


  • Google Forms doesn't offer a built-in ranking question. However, you can DIY a solution using the multiple-choice grid and a bit of creativity.
  • First, label your form and add the question you want to ask as a multiple-choice grid. Add each item you want respondents to select from as a row, and add each ranking option you want to use as a column.
  • Toggle on 'Require a response in each row' to make sure each item will be given a ranking. Also, toggle on 'limit one response per column' from the menu at the bottom of the question.
  • Because this isn't a dedicated ranking question, this field can be unintuitive for users to fill out. A better option is to use a form builder with a dedicated rank option.
  • With Paperform's free-text editor, all you need to do is type '/rank'. Users can drag items into their preferred order using an interactive list, which makes for a far superior experience than clicking through a makeshift Google Form.
  • Try Paperform's 14-day free trial, no credit card required, and build beautiful ranking questions in minutes.

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What is a ranking question?

A ranking question asks respondents to order a list of items from most preferred to least preferred on a preset scale. They're particularly helpful for questions relating to preferences and habits and are a great source of quantitative data.

The most common example of a ranking question is when people are asked to rank items in order of importance, with 1 being 'most important' and 10 being 'least important', but they're useful across a range of industries and use cases.

How to add a ranking field in Google Forms

The very first step is to create a new form. You'll need a Google account to do this, but if you use Gmail, Docs, or Google Drive (who doesn't?), you'll already have one.

Done? Let's get right into it.

Step 1: Label your form and questions

When you open a Google Form there'll be title and question fields waiting to be labelled. Type the title of your form, as well as the question that you want to ask.

In this case, we want to get to the bottom of which Harry Potter movie is the best, so we've labelled our form, description, and question accordingly.

Google Form with heading and question title.
Source: Google Forms

Step 2: Create a multiple-choice grid question

Next, click on the toolbar beside the form and add a Multiple-choice grid question type. Once you've done this, rows and columns will appear below your question (this is where you'll add the options for your ranking questions).

  • Add each item you want respondents to select from as a row
  • Add each ranking option you want to use as a column.

In our form, we added each 'Harry Potter' film as a row, and 1-8 as rankings in the columns. You could also use descriptors like "least favourite" and "most favourite" in place of numbers.

Google Form showing rows and columns within the multiple choice grid
Source: Google Forms

Step 3: Toggle on 'Require a response in each row'

Once the answer options and ranking choices are filled out, you'll need to make sure the form settings support the makeshift ranking question.

The first step is to turn on the Require a response in each row toggle at the bottom of the question field. This makes sure respondents can't miss items, and that each item will be attributed a ranking.

Step 4: Limit to one response per column

In addition to making sure every row gets a ranking, you need to ensure every ranking can only be paired with a single answer (otherwise respondents could attribute multiple items to a specific ranking).

To do this, click the three dots on the bottom right of the question, and select Limit to one response per column. Now, if someone tries to use the same ranking for more than one question, they'll get an error message.

Google Form showing 'limit to one response per column' selected in menu.
Source: Google Forms
Important: From the same dropdown menu, you can also choose to shuffle the row order, which randomizes the order in which respondents are shown the answer options. We opted to keep the films in release order, but this can be a good way to cut down on survey bias for select questions.

Step 5: Preview the form and set it live

That's it—you've successfully created a ranking question in Google Forms. Before you send it out into the world, click the Eye icon to preview the survey and check everything works correctly.

If you've managed to jump through all the right hoops, your ranking question will look similar to the screenshot below. (Note: if you have more than eight rankings to choose from, respondents will have to scroll to the left to select them all.)

harry potter google form completed
Source: Google Forms

5 limitations of ranking questions in Google Forms

If you've stuck with us so far you might have noticed that adding ranking questions in Google Forms isn't exactly the smoothest process in the world. Here are a few of the challenges you'll run into:

1. Tedious setup

Because there's no native ranking question in Google Forms, the setup process is needlessly complex. And if you want to make your question conditional, you're in for even more of a headache.

You've got to tweak multiple settings for the form to work in the first place, and it only takes a minor mistake for the whole thing to unravel. For what should be a simple process, creating a ranking question in Google Forms takes a seriously long time.

2. Confusing analysis

The makeshift nature of the Google Forms ranking question means it's difficult to glean helpful data from the results.

While you can view the results easily enough, the way it's presented takes some mental gymnastics, and manual busywork, to actually analyse.

Google Form analytics bar graphs.
Source: Google Forms

In our form, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone received quite a few votes (check out the pink bar soaring above the rest). At first glance, you might think it's a clear winner, but this actually represents votes for 6th ranking*.*

For an inexplicable reason, there's no clear grouping of the ranked items. It's up to you to export the data to Google Sheets and manually crunch the numbers to find the final rankings. 🤓

Even with a modest number of responses, this results in a monster spreadsheet that'd make even data entry veterans second guess this option.

3. Limited customisation

A major drawback of Google Forms is that they look like every other Google Form ever created. The font, question style, coloured backgrounds, and success page all scream "I made this in Google Forms!".

There are only 4 font styles and a handful of background themes and colours. Add that to the fact your ranking question is already patch-worked together like a Mr. Potato Head doll, and what you get is less than ideal.

Of course, Google Forms is a free tool, so limited features are to be expected. But, if you're sending surveys to your clients, or customers, on behalf of your business, it's not exactly the most professional look.

4. Few integrations

It'll surprise absolutely no one that Google Forms integrates nicely with Sheets, and the rest of the G-Suite. But that's about it.

Want to send responses to your CRM? Auto-populate a Notion database? Set up automated marketing emails based on whether someone prefers The Chamber of Secrets or The Half-Blood Prince?

There's simply no way to do that natively with Google Forms. While there are some add-ons you can download, these are limited and run by (often unreliable) third-party developers.

You'll be stuck doing the busy work yourself.

5. Poor user experience

Ideally, ranking questions should use a drag-and-drop interface, to make it easy for respondents to move selections into order in an interactive way.

Obviously, Google Forms doesn't support this functionality. With the makeshift rows and columns, it's up to respondents to remember which boxes they have or haven't checked (and in what order they've ranked the items).

On top of that, the page itself is plain unintuitive. It looks more like a high school exam than a professional survey, and on first glance respondents likely won't even recognise it as a ranking question.

The better way to add ranking questions: Paperform

Want to set up a ranking question in a few clicks? To build surveys that look professional (not like Frankenstein's monster), are branded to your business, and are up and running in a few minutes with no extra work arounds?

Paperform's got you covered.

With our free-text editor, there is no convoluted setup. All you've got to do is type '/rank'. No need to manage rows or columns, toggle random settings, or patchwork a solution out of other question types.

It couldn't be easier: just select the Rank question field and enter your options. Two steps and you're done, like an old-style waltz.

Once your form is live, respondents can drag items into their preferred order using the interactive list. It makes for a far superior experience than clicking on an array of radio buttons.

But that's not the fun part. Unlike Google Forms, Paperform lets your imagination run wild with limitless customisation options. By tweaking colours, fonts, images, and even UI elements, you can build a form unique to you.

You can even insert GIFs from GIPHY and images from Unsplash with our slash command shortcuts, or even edit images with our native image editor.

Check out our survey once we've sprinkled some Paperform magic onto it:

Not bad, right? And to be honest, that's just scratching the surface of what you can do with Paperform. Here are a few more features you won't find in Google Forms:

  • Custom success pages: personalise success pages based on answers.
  • Conditional logic: show, hide or trigger certain actions based on answers.
  • Direct integrations: connect with your favourite tools to automate work.
  • Analytics: track respondent behaviour and survey performance.
  • Payments: accept payments with no additional fees with Paperform.
  • Shareable templates: share form templates with clients and customers.
  • Embed anywhere: host your form online, embed it on a webpage or share it on social media with a branded preview.

Thinking about making the move from Google Forms? You can easily migrate your forms over to Paperform with our Google Forms import tool.

Start ranking with Paperform

Adding a ranking question to Google Forms may not be ideal due to the complex setup required. Google Forms may be simple and free, but it often proves cumbersome. Instead, opt for a form builder like Paperform, which manages complexities and offers customization. Experience Paperform yourself with a 14-day free trial, no credit card needed.
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