Google Forms & Generating Reports

A colleague recently approached me about documenting incidents of a student acting out in class.  It began with a question on using word wrapping for a cell in Google Sheets.  After a quick search online, I got him the answer he needed, but was curious on what he was up to.  When he showed me, I almost fell over – his administrator was having him document the incidents directly into a multi-column spreadsheet!  He admitted this was not an easy task but it’s what was set up for him.

Spreadsheets are a great way to house data, but horrible if you’re directly inputting large amounts of text.  To help him & his administrator out, I quickly put together a Google Form that collected the same information, but with a much nicer interface.

 Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 9.33.09 AM Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 9.34.12 AM
The original, direct-entry spreadsheet. Google Form front-end for a spreadsheet collecting the same information.

My colleague also commented that it would be nice to use this information to create a report that could be shared with teachers, other administrators, and parents.  It’s with a little more looking around that I came across the add-on Form Publisher.  Form Publisher is a Google Form add-on that automatically generates a Google Doc or Sheet (Doc in my case) from a template you create, for each form submission.

It’s remarkably easy!  I created a simple report template in Google Docs and included “markers” (form fields, if you’re familiar with mail merging) for where I wanted the spreadsheet data to be replaced.  The markers all have the syntax of “__##Your Form Question##__”.

Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 9.50.21 AM

Screenshot of my Incident Report template.

Next, I ran Form Publisher.  I told the add-on where to find my template & which markers to use, set up a folder & naming convention to use for the generated reports, and added the e-mail addresses of the people who needed to be notified each time a report was generated.  That’s it!

Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 9.55.42 AM Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 9.55.58 AM Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 9.56.28 AM
Pick the template.

Setup the folder & naming
for the generated reports

E-Mail addresses


Simple, quick, and it works like a charm!  Now, my colleague can easily record any disruptive incidents from any device thanks to a new web interface – no more fussing with a spreadsheet and manipulating the widths of columns so he can read what he’s writing.  Additionally, the information is stored in a spreadsheet and a neat, readable report document is automatically generated & shared with his administrators.


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