Teacher Tech blog with Alice Keeler

Paperless Is Not a Pedagogy

Alice Keeler

5 easy steps to pre-populating fields in a Google form

5 easy steps to pre-populating fields in a Google form

I am loving using a Google Form to have students turn in work.  No more papers to tote around is amazing. However I require student to fill out information about the assignment such as the title and assignment number and how many points it is worth. I thought it would be nice if when the kids opened the form it would automatically fill out the fields for that assignment.  Not only will it make it easier for my students to turn in work, but I can have more accurate assignment numbers and consistency of assignment titles.

It was pretty easy to do.

Step 1: Create a Google Form

Step 2: Go to the Form

Step 3: Copy the Form URL
(Sample: https://docs.google.com/a/acelfresno.org/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dFZGY3hyOWZQRXRuOFJOeXhQSlJFNGc6MQ Notice the sample is totally blank, student has to fill everything out).

Step 4:  Append to the end of the URL an ampersand (&) symbol, the word entry, Underscore (_) and the field location (starts at zero instead of 1, so be warned), an equals sign, the value you want in the field NO SPACES (use a plus sign if you want spaces).

Step 5: Share the edited URL


So if I want the form to be pre filled out for assignment “concentric circles project” and the assignment number is 36 and it is worth 25 points I will append to the end of the URL


Notice the nested &entry_ action I have going on.

Notice there are NO spaces in my URL.

Hint: Test out the pre-populated form before you send it out. If you created fields after your first saved your form. Your 3rd field on the form might be entry 10. 
I keep modifying my form to fit my needs. Part way in I realized I wanted to capture email addresses and I moved the field up under their name. So it LOOKS like the 3rd field (entry 2 though since counting starts at zero) but really it is entry_8 

Now… I am going to teach my students how to do this.  Then they can make their OWN customized turn in form if they want.  Now, their form will not pre-populate the assignment title and points… but it would auto put in their SID, First and Last name and Email (I actually have several more fields on my homework turn in form than on the sample form).

However…. if they were to save the  &entry_3=Alice+Keeler&entry_7=alice@alicekeeler.com&entry_0=12388 and just append that to the end of the URL for my pre-populated forms… then it would populate almost the whole thing automatically 🙂

One last note… I can make a QR code from the pre-populated URL

Google’s Tutorial: https://docs.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=160000

5 thoughts on “5 easy steps to pre-populating fields in a Google form

  1. Are you sure this is how it still works? I noticed on my form, the attributes’ names were not “entry_1”, “entry_2” etc. but something more like: “entry.2082246950” etc.

    1. The old forms is like this. It only works for legacy forms. If you want to do it with the new forms you need to choose pre-filled URL and then you can edit the URL.

  2. Alice, how do I have a Google form field auto-filled based on an answer selected for the previous field? That is, do you know if there is a way to auto-fill a field with an email address based on the name selection? The ideal result would be that when someone selects a specific name from a drop-down menut/list on the Google form, an email address, for say their mentor/coach, auto-populates in the next field, which is used for the “Yet Another Mail Merge” add-on functionality of automatically sending an email to (in this case) the coach of the person whose name was selected from drop-down menu on the form. Thanks for any advice/help you can give! Thanks!

    1. Not easily. Use quiz making tools for things like this. Google Forms is a quick and easy way to do Formative assessment, but it is a survey tool, not a quiz maker. If you want advanced features, I recommend you use something else.

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