Collect & Share Data with Google Docs

March 9, 2008 – 12:33 pm by Gabe Anderson | 2 Comments

Microsoft Word and Excel are great for creating and emailing around documents, but what if you want to collaborate and share your documents with others online? If you have a Gmail address or Google account, you probably already know about Google Docs. My wife and I have used it for years to safely store our contact list online — and we can both easily add or edit addresses.


I volunteer for UPH Saratoga and we’re working to plan a big fundraiser event in a couple weeks (UPH University). Someone asked in our Google Groups discussion list yesterday if we were tracking the names of our “professors” and their guests to whom we had offered complimentary tickets. We weren’t, so I decided to take the initiative.

I went to create a new Google spreadsheet and noticed a cool new feature that would perfectly suit our purpose: Form Collection. One of the drawbacks of Google Docs has always been that in order for someone to collaborate with you, she has to be signed into her Google account, too. This new feature is pretty cool because you can now solicit and collect data from people without their having to be signed into or even owning a Google Account.

Using it is really easy:

  1. Visit Google Docs.
  2. Click New -> Spreadsheet to create your new spreadsheet:


  3. Add some rows for the type of data you want to collect (e.g., name & job title).
  4. Click the Share tab in the upper-right corner.
  5. If you haven’t already done so, you’ll be prompted to save your spreadsheet with a name.
  6. Click Invite people and select the radio button to fill out a form:


  7. Click the Preview and send form button, which launches a new window.
  8. Confirm or edit your existing column names, or select the link to Add a new question.
  9. Click the button to Preview and send.
  10. Optionally, send the link to your form as an email — or just copy the link.

You can view the sample input form I created right here:

First Name
Last Name
Job Title

powered by Google Docs

Optionally, you can even click the Publish tab to give people the link to view your spreadsheet.

By the way, you may have noticed that I embedded the form directly in this blog entry. How’d I do that?

Here’s how:

  1. Installed the EmbedIt WordPress plugin.
  2. Viewed the source HTML of my input form.
  3. Copied the relevant form submission code into a custom field of this blog entry, according to the EmbedIt instructions.


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  1. 2 Responses to “Collect & Share Data with Google Docs”

  2. Gabe,
    A number of Arts and not-for-profit blogs have been discussing the idea of a “Google Office” recently. Here’s the link to one of them, but there are many.

    I don’t think google spreadsheet is quite sophisticated enough to completely replace excel, but it may be soon. I can’t wait!

    By Matt Kopans on Mar 10, 2008

  3. Snap! I think I have an idea as to how I can use this for my web site. Hmmmm. Thanks, Gabe!

    By Dave on May 27, 2008

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