June 9, 2023

New Feature: PDF survey outputs!

PDF created from a survey

We’ve heard requests and built an all-new feature that many of you have asked for – the ability to create PDFs of surveys. If you’re in the process of drafting a new survey and want to see what it would look like on paper or pass it around for collaborative editing, you can now easily do that with a range of display options. If you’ve filled out a survey and want to save or print a copy for yourself, or download your answers for another use, you can do that too. Our community is full of users with different ways of working, and we’re all about providing the flexibility that you need to get your data where it needs to go.

For Users

After you’ve filled out a survey and submitted it to the SurveyStack database, you now also have the option to download the finished results as a PDF, with all of your answers included. 

Where to find it: 

After hitting ‘Submit’ from the survey review page, you now have two option buttons beneath the Results box. 

‘Download Submission’ will save your results as a PDF directly to your device. You can also select ‘Email Submission’ to have a PDF copy of your results emailed to the address associated with your SurveyStack account. Depending on how the survey questions have been designed, you’ll see your individual answers either as stand-alone entries, or as a checked box on a list of potential answers:

User view of finished survey questions in PDF

We’ve also made it possible to save a copy of your survey answers, even if you’re unable to submit due to error messages. We can now avoid the pain of taking the time to fill out a full survey, then worrying that all that information is lost due to an error at submission. By saving your answers as a PDF directly from the submission window, you can make sure you have everything you need to resubmit, and help us improve our error reporting and fixing process–a double win! 

You can also download a blank version of any survey from the title screen – just select ‘Print Blank Survey’ beneath the ‘Start Survey’ button. 

Find the Print Blank Survey option on the title page of any survey.

For Survey Builders 

We’ve also added options to the survey builder that allow you to create PDFs of blank surveys to your specifications. These can then be passed around and reviewed as you’re designing a survey with a group, or handed out as paper surveys to fill out in the field–and all the options you’ve built into your SurveyStack survey are captured. 

Here’s where the power of SurveyStack really stands out: The logic you’ve written for your survey also translates to the PDF version output for users, so they’ll see only the questions that are relevant to them. We’ve also built in flexible options to hide or show information like instructions, lists, and images, depending on your needs. 


As the survey builder, you now have options when creating your survey to specify how it will appear when exported. From the builder, you can set global options for your survey by selecting ‘Print Settings’. 

Select ‘Print Settings’ from the vertical menu on the edit screen.

Here you can decide if you’d like Instructions text to show up in both blank and completed survey submissions, and whether unanswered questions should appear in the final PDF for users. 

You can also set specific preferences for Matrix questions, File/Image questions, and single- or multiple-choice questions on a case-by-case basis. 

For example, there’s a question in the Common Profile that asks users what country they live in, with a dropdown list of hundreds of options. Rather than having these options show up in the printed copy, we can open up ‘Print Layout’ and uncheck ‘Show all resource list options.’ for blank surveys.

For other questions, users need to be able to choose from a designated list. We want those answers to appear in a blank PDF, so we can leave this box checked in cases like this: 

In the Print Layout box for each question, we also have the ability to select ‘Show all resource list options’ for filled submissions. This impacts how a list shows up when users export a PDF of a completed survey. If you leave the box unchecked, only the option the user chose will appear in their exported PDF. If you’d rather give users the option of seeing all the possibilities in a list, with their own answer highlighted, checking this box will make that change.

We’re so excited to share this new ability with our communities! Take a look and let us know how you’re using this feature, as well as additional ways we can build to support your projects. The GOAT forum is a great place to talk with our team, or email us at info@our-sci.net

Additional updates: 

  • Fixed a bug related to proxy survey submission from drafts – proxy status should now correctly persist when returning to an unfinished survey. 
  • Pushed an update to surveys so they only load the most recent (or specified) version – this should substantially improve load times, and supports upcoming improvement to the way Drafts work. 
  • Fixed an issue to ensure group surveys would load appropriately in the Call For Submissions section of a group.