An Efficient Way To Collect & Store Mailing Addresses With Google Forms
The holiday season is upon us and that means it's time to start thinking about those holiday cards!
Whether you and your family are into matching pajamas and smiles for your annual photo or not, don't let the amount of time and effort you're putting into making the perfect holiday card go to waste by not mailing them out on time (or at all!)
The United States Postal Service (USPS) estimates that they handle close to 20 billion pieces of mail during the holiday season. That's a whole lot of letters to Santa, and a whole lot of holiday cards!
One thing is for sure - if you want your cards to arrive on time (and not in January), now is the time to get organized! Don't be one of the many people who wait until December to start thinking about their holiday cards.
Firstly, you need to decide what your plans are for your holiday cards. Will you be having family photos professionally taken for photo cards? Remember, photographers get very busy at this time too. Booking in advance is always a great idea.
Another thing you might want to do as early as possible is to make a list of recipients you would like to send cards to. Then you also want to have all their mailing addresses ready to use.
You can get a jump on things by collecting addresses and getting your cards ready to go now! To get started, all you need is a personal Google account. If you have a Gmail email address, then you already have a Google account! With Google Forms, you can easily collect addresses from your friends and family and store them all in one place.
Below is a step-by-step guide on how to get started.
Set Up Your Google Forms File
From your laptop or desktop computer, open up your favorite web browser, go to the url: drive.google.com and sign in with your Google account credentials.
This opens up Google Drive homepage. On the top left corner of the page, find and click the New (plus sign) button. A fly-out menu of options will pop up.
Next, click on Google Forms. A new tab will open, displaying a blank form template.
Now, you’re going to name your file and give the form a title.
Currently the file name, which becomes editable when you click on it, is Untitled form as seen in the upper left corner of your screen, preceded by a purple rectangular, Google Forms icon. By clicking on the words, you’ll be able to delete “Untitled form” and type in a new file name. Google Forms regularly saves all your edits as you go along.
To give your form a title, repeat the previous editing steps, but this time you will be editing Untitled form under the Questions tab. Form description also becomes editable by simply clicking on it.
Build Your Form
Now we’re ready to build a simple form to collect names and mailing addresses. We will create a total of 5 form fields for: Full name, Street address, City, State and Zip code.
Since your form’s users will be typing in their information rather than selecting responses from a list of options, we won’t be needing the default multiple choice question format. We can change this format by selecting one of the options given in the question format pull-down menu.
Select Short answer from the pull-down menu.
Click on Untitled Question and replace it with “Full name”. This is what your form users will see when completing the form. We will go over how to preview the form later.
Next, we're going to create another form field for the street address. On the right side of your screen, you’ll find a group of icons displayed vertically. The Add question button (first icon in the group - a plus sign enclosed in a circle) is used to create a new form field. However, we are going to use a shortcut and replicate our previously created form field by clicking on the Duplicate icon at the bottom right of the “Full name” form field.
After you replicate the “Full name” field, edit and replace “Full name” with “Street address”.
We’ll repeat the step above for the other form fields.
Duplicate and rename “Street address” to “City”.
Duplicate and rename “City” to “State”. If you want to emphasize that the states be abbreviated, you can add “abbreviation” in parentheses like this: “State (abbreviation)”.
However, this does not guarantee that everyone will abbreviate their state (They may overlook your emphasis in the parentheses). But there’s a way to force the form users to abbreviate by limiting the number of characters they can enter. We can set the “State” form field to accept exactly two characters for the abbreviation using the response validation feature.
To ensure two characters are entered for the state, click on the vertical ellipsis (three dots) icon and select Response validation.
From the resulting pull-down menus, select length, then maximum character count, and for where it says Number, enter 2. You can leave custom error text blank.
Lastly for the zip code field, replicate the “State” field by clicking the Duplicate icon. Next, remove the response validation area by clicking ‘x’, then rename “State” to “Zip code”.
Now we’re done building the form and ready to take a look at what your users will be seeing on their end. One more thing before we preview: Note that you have the option to toggle on Required on all of your form fields. This prevents your form users from submitting responses if they skip any questions.
Test Your Form and View Responses
In the top right corner of your form builder page, find and click the preview (eye) icon. A new tab will open displaying your form.
You can test the form by filling it out and submitting your responses.
To view the responses you just submitted, go back to the form builder page, switch from the Questions tab to Responses tab and you’ll find the form responses there. To view the responses in an organized, tabular format, clicking the green icon on the top right corner lets you View responses in Sheets (Google’s web-based spreadsheet).
Once you click on the green Google Sheets icon, a spreadsheet will be automatically generated in a new tab and its file will reside in the same location as your form builder file in Drive.
The file name of the Sheets document will be identical to your form file with (Responses) appended to it. For example, if you named your form file Mailing Address List, its corresponding Sheets file will be automatically named Mailing Address List (Responses)
Share A Link To Your Form
On the form builder page, click Send in the upper right corner.
Click on the link icon tab. This generates your form’s URL.
Click in the checkbox to shorten the URL. Now you can share this URL (the link to your form) with others via email, text message, social media etc.
Get A Head Start On Your Holiday / Christmas Cards This Year
Don't wait until the last minute to start thinking about your holiday cards! By getting organized now, you can avoid the rush and stress of trying to get everything done at the last minute. We hope you found this little tutorial helpful and easy to follow, and that it inspires you to get started with Google Forms; an easy and organized way to collect addresses from your friends and family and store them all in one place!