Survey Guidelines

Question Wording

This contribution provides an overview of the basic rules that should be observed when formulating survey questions. The structure of the chapter is oriented towards the cognitive response process that respondents undergo when answering survey questions. This process involves a total of four tasks: understanding the question text, retrieving information from memory, forming a judgment, and formulating a response in the format provided. Using practical examples, the authors demonstrate how questions can be formulated in such a way that it makes it easier for respondents to handle these four tasks.

English-language version (91 kB)

Version 2.0; doi: 10.15465/gesis-sg_en_017

German-language version (263 kB)

Version 1.1; doi: 10.15465/gesis-sg_017

Earlier version: Version 1.0; doi: 10.15465/sdm-sg_017

Slides: Question Wording

Slide set summarizes the main statements of the paper; it can be used for teaching purposes.


Lenzner, T., & Menold, N. (2016). Question Wording. GESIS Survey Guidelines. Mannheim, Germany: GESIS – Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences. doi: 10.15465/gesis-sg_en_017