4 Tip for Writing Inclusively Demographic Survey Questions – A Guest Post

I’m hosting a guest on the blog this week. Thank you Chi Whitley for sharing these insights:


4 Tip for Writing Inclusively Demographic Survey Questions


In 2021 and beyond, it is essential that your writing be culturally aware and inclusive, especially when writing demographic survey questions for internal or external purposes. When phrasing your questions, consider if you’re being inclusive to everyone and if your answer choices are making assumptions or misaligned with previous answers given.


See the tips below for how to write demographically inclusive survey questions that will make your business appear more professional.

1. Have Open-Ended Responses When Applicable

Many surveys contain simple yes or no type questions. These yes or no questions devise a binary data point, which has its use. However, in demographic surveys, your answer choices must contain an open-ended response, which might be “other” or “not applicable.”


Having open-ended questions allows surveyees to not feel boxed or to select an option they do not completely feel comfortable or truthful in assigning. Even though you won’t get your binary data point, you will get more accurate responses. So, not only are you being inclusive, but you are also receiving more reliable data.

2. Disclose Data and Personal Information Use

In today’s society, many survey respondents are wary of what personal information will be sold or given to third parties. You should always be upfront with what your intentions are with your surveys, especially with external demographic ones that are geared towards either a general or targeted audience.


To proactively counteract this skepticism, be upfront at the beginning of your survey. Explicitly assert how you mean to use these surveyees’ information and data. Work to answer the following questions respondents might have about the data usage from the survey at the beginning through a short paragraph or two.


  • Which companies will have access to my data?
  • Will you sell my personal information to third parties or anyone else?
  • Exactly how long will my personal information be kept on file?


3. Allow Respondents to Skip Questions

Allowing surveyees to skip questions might seem counterintuitive from a data collection standpoint, but it’s recommended to let your surveyees skip questions for certain demographic questions. If your survey is lengthy (more than 3 minutes to take) many surveyees will simply get frustrated with the survey’s length and will select answers randomly. Or, they won’t put as much thought into their responses.


To make sure surveys are finished with accuracy allow respondents to skip certain questions that don’t apply to them or that they might not feel comfortable answering. By allowing surveyees to skip questions, you will receive more accurate responses and information to go off of. Also, you don’t want to make respondents feel uncomfortable answering a specific question. This leads to the next tip, use skip logic.


4.  Employ Skip Logic

Skip logic is using logic-based commands so that respondents who answer a certain question skip or move past other non-relevant questions. For example, if your demographic survey asks about being a certain religion such as Jewish then later asks if they celebrate Christmas that can be both offensive and irritating to the respondent. A skip logic algorithm will take respondents to a different question that is more appropriate and relevant to who they are based on their previous answers.


When creating your next demographic survey, try to use these tips. Demographically inclusive surveys can give you key insight into your internal team and employees. Or, if used externally, a better understanding of both your current and new clients.


For more tips on how to write demographically inclusive survey questions visit Chattermill and see their infographic below.




Please include attribution to https://chattermill.com/ with this graphic.


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