Quick start guide - LimeSurvey 2.50+

From LimeSurvey Manual

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Help.png Note: Please note that this is just a basic quick start guide. Its aim is to get new users accustomed to the main functions and features provided by LimeSurvey. If you would like to know more about LimeSurey and its capabilities, continue reading our manual. If further questions arise, please post them on our forum or join the IRC channel. We are looking forward to hearing from you!

Introduction - what is LimeSurvey?

LimeSurvey is a free and open source online survey application written in PHP, and distributed under the GNU General Public License 2. The software enables users to develop and publish online surveys, collect responses, create statistics, and export the resulting data to other applications. You can either install LimeSurvey on your own server (LimeSurvey CE) or you can directly start utilizing it via one of our hosting services (LimeSurvey Pro).

The following start guide relies on the usage of LimeSurvey Pro. To install LimeSurvey on your own server, check our installation section from the LimeSurvey manual.

Create a free LimeSurvey account

LimeSurvey allows every user to create a free account in order to test its features and core functions. To try it out, hover the mouse over Editions & Pricing that is located on the top toolbar of LimeSurvey website and look for the Editions & Pricing button located under the LimeSurvey Pro tab:

Editions and Pricing - LimeSurvey Pro.png

Help.pngCheck the following link for a short comparison between LimeSurvey Pro and LimeSurvey CE.

Four options will emerge: free, basic, expert, and enterprise. Click on the Register Now button from the FREE option box:

Free LimeSurvey Pro.png

The next step includes filling in the following fields:

  • Username: the username of your account which will also be used to access your LimeSurvey installation;
  • Email: the email where the activation link will be sent to;
  • Password: the password of your account which will also be used to access your LimeSurvey installation.

Join LimeSurvey pro.png

As you hover the mouse over each field, text boxes will pop up with further details about each field. Optionally, you could also subscribe to the LimeSurvey newsletter in order to get help, tips & tricks, service discounts, and the latest news.

Help.png Note: You can unsubscribe at any time by accessing your profile menu and un-ticking the LimeSurvey newsletter option from your mailing list, located under your community profile.

For a faster registration process, LimeSurvey allows each user to sign up via their own Twitter, Gmail or GitHub account. LimeSurvey will gather the basic information we require from your selected source.

After creating your LimeSurvey account by clicking on the SIGN UP button, you will receive an email from us. This email contains the account activation link you should click on to access your newly created account. Once clicked, you will be redirected to the LimeSurvey website, getting automatically logged in to your LimeSurvey account.

To access your survey link, you have to first create an installation. Click on your username from the main toolbar, and then go to your LimeSurvey profile:

TestLimeSurveyNow profile.png

Choose Installations from the Profile Menu located on the left side of the screen and create an installation:

Installations - Create an installation.png

You will be asked to:

  • type in the Domain name (the URL link of the questionnaire);
  • choose the Server location – you can pick up one of the four server locations that will suit most of your needs.

Profile Menu - Installations.png

When the domain-related fields are completed and saved, the installation process will start. This will take up to 10 seconds. The installation settings page will look like this:

LimeSurvey Pro - your installation settings.png

You can now access your server by clicking on the administration URL. To sign in to your LimeSurvey installation, use your credentials:

Sign in to your LimeSurvey installation.png

Start using LimeSurvey

Once logged in, you will find yourself on the home page of your LimeSurvey installation. It contains a toolbar located on the upper-right part of the window and a set of boxes, each of them corresponding to six LimeSurvey functionalities shortcuts, situated in the center of the home page.

The toolbar contains the following options:

Home Page toolbar Limesurvey.png

  • Configuration: Once selected, a dialog will show up from where you can administrate your LimeSurvey installation.
    • Settings: Under this tab, you may find options that can help you customize your LimeSurvey installation.
      • Home page settings: Users can use this option to tweak the settings of the home page according to their needs;
      • Global settings: The changes done here affect the entire LimeSurvey installation, influencing also the setting of non-superadministrator users for all users;
      • Plugin manager: It allows every user to activate a series of plugins that are supported by the LimeSurvey team. New plugins can also be added to your installation.
    • Users: Under this tab you may find options related to the users and survey participants' management.
      • Manage survey administrators: New administration users can be added from here;
      • Create/edit user groups: This function is meant to group administration users in individual groups;
      • Central participant database: It permits every administrator to store the participants' information to a central table that is independent of any token table.
    • Advanced settings: It includes options that are non user or settings-related. They can be used to enhance your LimeSurvey installation.
      • Template editor: If you would like to add/edit/delete templates, access this option. The templates allow control over the look and feel of pages of your survey;
      • Manage label sets: Label sets are basically list templates where each list has a set of codes with labels and it can be used in most question types either as answers or as sub-questions;
      • Check data integrity: It checks the consistency and the redundancy of the data;
      • Backup entire database: It is used to backup the LimeSurvey data when important LimeSurvey upgrades are pushed or when you move your LimeSurvey installation to another server;
      • ComfortUpdate: It is a tool utilized to easily update your LimeSurvey installation from your web browser with just a few mouse clicks (instead of performing a manual LimeSurvey reinstallation).
  • Surveys: A survey includes via different interconnected databases: languages, question groups, questions, question attributes, answers, subquestions, default answers, assessments, quotas, quota members, and quota language settings. By clicking on the green arrow, a window with the following options will load up:
    • Create a new survey: New surveys can be created and added to the surveys list;
    • Import a new survey: If you want to import a survey to your list of surveys, use this function;
    • Copy a survey: It allows the user to quickly copy a survey. This will appear in the surveys list from where it can be edited;
    • List surveys: It allows you you to get an overview on all the existing surveys.
  • Response balance: It shows the number of responses left from your subscription. Because you have access only to a free account at the moment, 25 responses per month are available to you. If you run out of responses, purchase more from the following link;
  • Storage: it represents the amount of MBs that are at your disposal to store your surveys and answers.Because you created a free account, you get 10 MB storage space. If you would like to receive more storage space, choose one of the following options from here;
  • Username: By clicking on it, you can either access your user preferences or sign out from your account;
  • Notifications: Different notification related to your LimeSurvey installation will be displayed here.

There are six default boxes on the home page of your LimeSurvey installation:

LimeSurvey home page 2.67.png
  • Create a new survey
  • List available surveys
  • Edit global settings
  • ComfortUpdate
  • Label Sets
  • Template editor
Help.png The boxes act like shortcuts for different LimeSurvey functionalities. The boxes and their number can be changed from Configuration -> Home page settings.

Create a survey

To create a survey group, click on the Create a new survey box:

Create a new survey - Example.png

The Create survey page will be displayed:

Create a survey - model 2.67.png

The following options will be displayed:

  • Base language: It is the main language of the survey. Additional languages can be added later from the settings of the survey;
  • Survey title: The title of the survey has to be typed here. It can be later changed;
  • Sample question: It comes disabled by default. If you enable it, a question group and question examples will be added to your survey.
  • Description: A short description of the survey can be added her;
  • Welcome message: The survey participants will be prompted by this welcome message if something is typed in;
  • End message: Type in a message that will be displayed to the survey participants when they submit the answers to the questionnaire.
In the right part of the window, you will observe five options: General options, Presentation & navigation, Publication & access control, Notification & data management, Tokens. By clicking on each of them, more advanced menus will show up. They are used to enhance your survey. We will not insist on them because they can be later edited from the settings of the survey once it is created.

If you are done completing the fields, click on the Save and close button located in the upper-right part of the window. You will be redirected to the home page of your recently added survey:

General view Survey 2.67.png

Create a question group

A question group is used to group different elements of a survey like descriptions, questions, and answers.

To create a question group, you have to first access the survey to which you want to add the question group. To do that, click on the Surveys button located on the top toolbar from the LimeSurvey home page:

Quick start guide - Surveys list.png

Click on the survey you wish to add the question group to. The survey page will show up. Look for the Add group button located on the left menu - Questions and groups -> Question explorer -> Add group:

Quick start guide - add group.png

The following page will be displayed:

Quick start guide - create group.png

  • Title: The name of the survey group;
  • Description: A short description of the question group can be typed in. It can be displayed to the survey participants if the corresponding option is enabled from the settings of the survey;
  • Randomization group: This function is used when you would like to randomize certain question groups (the same has to be allocated to the respective question groups);
  • Relevance equation: It is used to make survey participants answer only to certain question groups, according to their prior answers.

Once done, click on the Save and close button located in the upper-right part of the window.

The last two fields from the screenshot are left empty because knowledge about the expression manager of LimeSurvey is required. If you would like to read more about it, start with our wiki on question groups.
  Warning : You must create a question group first in order to start adding questions to your survey.

To get an overview on all question groups, go to the Survey menu and click on: Questions and groups -> List question groups:

Quick start guide - List question groups.png

Create a question

To create a new question, you need to first create a question group. Please check the steps presented above to see how you can add a question group to a survey. Once done creating the survey group, select the List question groups button from the survey menu:

Actions - question groups list.png

A list with the all the survey question groups will show up. Now, look in the last column. It shows you four buttons, representing the available question group actions:

  • Add new question to group: It is used to start adding questions to the correspondent question group;
  • Edit group: It allows the user to edit the respective question group;
  • Group summary: If clicked, a summary page of that question group will be displayed;
  • Delete: One option to delete the question group is to click on the red trash button.

Click on the first button and start adding your question to the desired question group. The Create question page will load up. It contains the following options:

Quick start guide - Create question.png

  • Code: It represents the name/code with which the survey is saved in the database and can be used further in more complex and advanced types of questions;
  • Question: The name of the question that will actually appear in the survey for the survey participants;
  • Help: A short text can be provided in order to help the survey participants better understand the question;
  • General options: The functionalities located under this option allow you to modify the most important question-related settings. It includes four options:
    • Question type: Many question types can be used in LimeSurvey. To better understand them, hover the mouse over each option or read our wiki on questions;
    • Question group: You can choose here to which question group you would like to add the question to;
    • Validation: This feature is available on all free text type or numeric questions. It is used for response validation. If the response is not validated, the user will be prompted to try again before they can progress;
    • Mandatory: It is available for all question types. This setting allows you to require users to answer the question before they can move on to the next question;
    • Relevance equation: It is a setting for advanced users. It is recommended to use the default value of "1" (it means that the item will be always shown);
  • Advanced settings: The advanced settings are different for each question type. Please consult the documentation for your particular question type.

Click on the Save button. Once done, you will be redirected to a page that contains the summary of the recently added question:

Quick start guide - See question summary.png

To add more questions, click on the Add new question button located in the Question quick actions menu.

Add subquestions and answers

Different types of questions require subquestions, predefined sets of answers, both or none. For example, a question that requires the age of a survey participant does not require any subquestion or predefined set of answers. On the other hand, a simple array question requires both subquestions and set of answers.

Help.png The lack of subquestions and/or sets of answers is emphasized in the question summary if they are absent.

The next screenshot contains an array-type question:

Quick start guide - answers and subquestions.png

Add subquestions

To add subquestions, go to the top toolbar and click on Edit subquestions. Type in the subquestions you wish the survey participants to answer to:

Quick start guide - edit subquestion.png

Help.png Click on the green plus sign located under the Action column to add more fields.

Add answers

To add a set of predefined answers, go to the top toolbar and click on Edit answer options. Type in the answers:

Quick start guide - Edit answers.png

Help.png Click on the green plus sign located under the Action column to add more fields.

Save the set of answers and preview the question (look for the Preview question button located on the top toolbar).

Quick start guide - Toolbar Preview question.png

Quick start guide - Preview question.png

Congratulations! You have successfully created your first array-type question.

Organize questions

If your survey already contains dozens of questions, it is a time-consuming process to access each of them and edit the one-by-one the order and question group of each of them. Therefore, to quickly reorganize your questions and question groups, use the Question organizer function (Survey menu -> Questions and groups -> Question organizer).

To reorder them, just drag the question/group with your mouse to the desired position. Do not forget to click on the Save button to save your changes.

Quick start guide - Question organizer.png

Activate/Stop survey

Now that you have at least one question and question group added to your survey, you can activate it. Go to the home page of your survey by clicking on the Survey button, located on the top of the survey menu:

Quick start guide - survey home page.png

Check the toolbar. The Activate this survey option should be available:

Quick start guide - activate this survey button.png

Before activation, a window will be displayed, asking you about some general survey settings:

Quick start guie - Before activating a survey.png

  Attention : If you decide to activate a survey, no edits can be done to the groups, questions, subquestions, and their correspondent codes.
  • Anonymyzed responses: This options allows you to determine whether responses to your survey are matched up with information from your surveys tokens table, or kept 'anonymous'. If you decide to enable it, then your survey is set to anonymize responses - there will be no way to connect answers and participants;
  • Save IP address: If enabled, the IP address of the survey respondent will be stored together with his/her answers;
  • Save timings: If enabled, the time spent on each page of the survey by each survey participant is recorded;
  • Data stamp: Turn it on if you would like to see the time when the answers were submitted;
  • Save referrer URL: If enabled, the referrer URL will be stored together with the answers.

Once you are done enabling the desired functionalities, click on the Save & activate survey button. The following message should be displayed:

Quick start guide - Survey has been activated.png

Select the option not to enable the closed-access mode! In this way, everyone will have access to your survey.

Congratulations! You have activated your first survey! If you want to start sharing the survey URL, go to the home page of your survey, and look for the survey URL in the Survey summary:

Quick start guide - Survey URL.png

Copy the link and start sharing it.

If you want to stop the interview, access the home page of the survey and look for the Stop this survey button located on the top toolbar:

Quick start guide - Stop this survey.png


To quickly see your survey statistics, click on the Survey button located on the top toolbar of your LimeSurvey home page. A list with all the available surveys will be displayed. Now, go to the last column and click on the Statistics button (Quick start guide - see Statistics survey.png) that corresponds to the row of the survey you wish to analyse:

Quick start guide - survey.png

A new window with a set of graphs will be loaded up. If you want to use them in a report, scroll down and click on the Export images button located on the bottom-left part of the page. All the charts will be separately saved as .png files and archived in a .zip file.

On the upper-right part of the window, you can see the Expert mode button. Click on it in order to access more statistics-related filters.

Once you select the filters according to which you want to analyse the data, click on the View Statistics button located on the upper-right part of the window.

Quick start guide - View statistics.png

According to the chosen output, the results are displayed in HTML, Excel or PDF.

Exporting the questions and responses

If you want to export the results in a different format in order to produce statistics and graphs using other apps such as SPSS, R, STATA, etc., access the survey you want to analyse. Click on the Responses button located on the top toolbar, and then on Responses & Statistics:

Quick start guide - Responses & statistics.png

Now you are on the Browse responses page. Look at the top toolbar for the Export button and select the desired format you wish to export to. If you select the first option, all the availalbe formats in which you can export the data will be displayed:

Quick start guide - export function.png

Quick start guide - Export different formats.png

Once the filters are set, click on the Export button located in the upper-right side of the window.

Other LimeSurvey features - advanced users

Check the features of LimeSurvey Pro package by clicking on the following link:

If further questions arise, please post them on our forum or join the IRC channel.