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Numbering

Question numbering

Give each new question pane, including the opening instructions, a question number. Once respondents are in the routine of completing a questionnaire the marking of an answer leads to the immediate search for the next question, and this process is assisted by the identification of question numbers.

Number items logically, sequentially, and simply throughout the entire questionnaire.

Place question numbers in the top left corner of each question pane, and align with the first line of text.

The preferred Statistics NZ style for question numbers is to place them inside a 100 percent coloured 7mm x 7mm box, with a font that is 14pt or 16pt bold and coloured white. Centre the question number both vertically and horizontally in the box.

Example of question numbering

Image, Example of question numbering.

Question sub-numbering

Each question should ask about just one concept, so avoid sub-numbering because it makes the response task harder and is confusing for respondents. It is often better to break up a complex question that requires sub-numbering into several different questions. Morrison et al. (2008) advise that "asking more individual questions often requires additional space, which may in turn increase the number of pages. While some might be concerned that the increase in the number of pages can negatively affect response rates, research has shown the contrary when a questionnaire's design is based on cognitive principles and pretesting".

If a question does require some form of sub-numbering, lower case letters are recommended rather than Roman numerals, which respondents may not understand. The lower case letters should be the same size font as the response options, and centred under the question number.

Example of question sub-numbering, if necessary

Image, Example of question sub-numbering, if necessary.  top

Page numbers

Include page numbers on every page except the front page and blank pages at the back of a questionnaire.

Include the word 'Page' before the number.

Format the page number in 10pt, italic title-case font. For example (insert picture).

Place the page number in a text box which is 20mm by 4.5mm. The box should have no (0pt) text inset, and text should be centred vertically.

In an open booklet, the page number of the left page should be aligned left (X = 10), and the page number of the right page should be aligned right (position box at X = 390 and align text to the right). Both page numbers should be at the top of a page above the top margin (Y = 4.5). Page numbers on the left hand side are even, and those on the right hand side are odd. So the page number on the first left hand side is page 2.

Page numbers are not needed in a single leaf double-sided questionnaire. top

Line codes

Line codes are generally four-digit numbers assigned to questions in order to create simple labels for use in processing and analysis.

When to use line codes

Give a line code to every piece of data that will be extracted electronically from a questionnaire. Therefore, if something like a comment won't be recorded, then a line code is not necessary. However, if a tick will be added to the data to inform that the respondent wrote a comment, a line code will be required.

Formatting

Line codes are important for processing staff, but have no meaning to respondents. Therefore, line codes should be formatted in a way that they are easy to locate for processing staff, but are not distracting to respondents.

Format font in 7pt, and shade at 80 percent of the questionnaire colour (to allow scanning).

Position main line codes in line with the option they apply to, and sub number line codes very close to the answer space (this will be explained further in the examples below).

Line codes should be one of the last items added to the questionnaire, otherwise they will likely have to be changed or moved several times during the questionnaire development.

Code numbers to use

If a system of line codes has already been developed (for example for AES), then use it. Otherwise, the line codes will not be comparable, and line code 0501 (for example) from one will not match 0501 from the next.

If a system of line codes has not already been developed, then line codes are usually based on the question number. For instance, question 5 would have the line code 05xx.

Totals are usually given a four-digit number ending in 99 (for example 0599).

For questions where only one response is possible (for example 'yes / no' questions and other single response questions), the line code for the item should be xx00, then every response option should be given a single number (for example 1, 2). It is common practice that 'yes' is always '1' and 'no' is always '2'. For example:

Image, For questions where only one response is possible.  top

For questions where a response can be placed in more than one box (for example financial questions, multiple response questions), each response option needs to have a line code. Starting at xx01 and increasing. For example:

Image, For questions where a response can be placed in more than one box.

For matrix questions where only one response is possible, give each row a line code (xx01) and each oval a single digit number. For example:

Image, For matrix questions where only one response is possible.

For matrix questions where multiple responses are requested for each row, each item should receive a line code. The line code should be formatted so that the 3rd digit is the row number and the 4th digit is the column number. For example:

Image, For matrix questions where multiple responses are requested for each row.

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