When and how to add an "Other" option to a multiple-choice question

Peter Suhm
Reform multiple choice question with Other option

When asking a multiple-choice question, it's often a good idea to allow respondents to use their own words in their answers when none of the options fit. You'll likely learn a lot from reading these free-form answers.

When to let respondents give their own answer?

Really, the question should be when to use a multiple-choice question. By presenting respondents with fixed options, you get more structured data. That's great for quantitative analysis. However, sometimes these options don't quite fit.

There are primarily two reasons why respondents choose to provide their answers in their own words: Either none of the options fit, or they feel a need to elaborate more instead of just picking one of your options. In both of these cases, there's a chance of collecting some qualitative data that you shouldn't miss.

There are two types of multiple-choice questions: Pick one or pick multiple. For example, you might only pick one "job title" but pick many "interests." Depending on what you need to do with the data afterward, typically, you want to have an "Other" option on "pick one" questions and not "pick multiple." When you let respondents pick multiple options, the data is typically more structured (think of "tags," for example, which help structure your data).

How to add an "Other" option in Reform

Reform, our easy-to-use form builder, makes it super easy to add an "Other" option to your multiple-choice question.

Here's how:

Step 1: Create a Reform account and make a new form

You can create a new Reform account here. To create a new form, start from scratch or pick a template.

Step 2: Add a "Select one" block to your form

Click the "Add form block" button and scroll down to the "Select one" block. Add your options; hit Enter to add more.

Screenshot of the block selector in Reform with "Select one" selected.
Click "Add form block" to add a "Select one" block to your form.

Step 3: Add an "Other" option to the block

Click the little cog wheel to the left of the block and check the "Use Other option" box. You can customize the placeholder of the Other field, by changing the text saying "Please expand on your choice".

Screenshot showing Reform's block settings menu with 'Other' option checked.
Click the cog wheel icon and check the "Use 'Other' option" checkbox.

Step 4: Publish the form

Once the form is published, your respondents can now select the "Other" option and provide their free form answer.

Screenshot showing a Reform form with "Other" selected on a multiple choice question.
Publish the form and try to select the "Other" option.

And that is how easy it is to add an "Other" option to your form when you're using Reform.

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