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Write the Right Word: Incidents vs. Incidence

“Incidents” and “incidence” are not interchangeable, even though they sound alike.

“Incidents” are events or occurrences. For example: “Researchers have found no evidence that the two incidents of foodborne illness are related.”

“Incidence” refers to the range or rate of occurrence of something, especially something unwanted. For example: “The high incidence of heart disease in men 40 and older is alarming.”

“Incidence” also can refer to an affecting occurrence. For example: “The incidence of stem rust in wheat in 2013 prompted Extension specialists to warn producers.”

Ellen Crawford, information specialist, (701) 231-5391

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Write Good Survey Questions to Get the Most Meaningful Responses

Many of us have attempted to complete a survey that was confusing or too long, and in general, just a pain to finish. If you want to get good data or feedback, it’s important to understand the user experience and not make it a painful process.

When helping with the evaluation forms for the 2013 Fall Conference, I noted there were more than 60 breakouts/activities to evaluate. Even if you didn’t attend a particular one, it was necessary to at least choose “did not attend”.  Using the “drop down” menu was very painful because first you had to click on the arrow to get to the options, and then the second step was to click on your choice. When there were more than 60 activities to rate, this became very cumbersome.

 drop down




I suggested using “radio buttons” (circles) instead which involves one click, making it easy for the user. The committee felt it was a good move.

radio button


Recently I was invited to complete a form, where the organization asked which date I was interested in volunteering. They used the “open text” box format, so I could type in anything I wanted.

text field


I typed in "Oct. 10". But there are many ways to type in that particular date:

  • 10/10
  • 10-10
  • Oct 10
  • Oct. 10
  • October 10
  • 10/10/13
  • 10-10-13
  • Oct 10 2013
  • Oct. 10, 2013
  • October 10, 2013
  • Otcober 10
  • and so on

Information including the date available to volunteer will be nicely captured in spreadsheet. But since everyone has their own way of entering a date, the person analyzing the data is going to have a headache in trying to make sense of it. Some start with words. Some start with numbers. There's no easy way to sort the date. In the bullets above, there are 11 ways to say "October 11" and it could get really messy without a consistent format to answer in. Instead of using a text box, I would have used a drop down in this case with a month and a date. Then it would be easy to sort the data by standard replies.

Here are some of the more commonly-used question types for forms. Some offer close- ended responses while others offer open-ended responses.  

Closed-Ended Responses

1. Radio Buttons

  • Use only when one option can be chosen
  • Works well for “Yes” or “No” questions
  • Example: Will you be able to attend? Yes or No

 2. Checkboxes

  • Use when more than one option can be chosen
  • Works well when for “choose all that apply” questions
  • Example: Which electronics do you own:
    X Toaster
    X TV
    X Game console
    Mobile phone

3. Scales

  • Use when you want to give a range of at least 3 measurements
  • Works well to provide a range of responses
  • Example: How useful was this presentation?
    1= very useful
    2= somewhat useful
    3=not so useful
    4= not useful at all

Open-Ended Responses

Text Boxes

  • Use when you want the respondent to have freedom to add information in their own words.
  • Works well when you’re not able to anticipate responses or there are too many to choose from.
  • Meant for short responses.
  • Example: What band would you like to see play next year?

Paragraph Boxes

  • Same as Text Boxes, but you’re allowed longer responses.
  • Example: having a comments section under any previous question so that a person can elaborate or comment on the option they chose.

Further Reading on Survey Design

Basics of Survey and Question Design (from
How to Choose Survey Questions (from eXtension)
Examples of “bad” survey questions

If you need help designing your survey, please contact me or Bob Bertsch (701) 237381

Sonja Fuchs, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-6403

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Always Link to Public URLs in Ag CMS

When you are sharing a link to an item in your Ag CMS site, it can be difficult to tell the difference between the web address (URL) of the item as you see it when logged into Ag CMS and the URL of the item as the public sees it. The two URLs can be similar but the place each of them leads is very different.

Whenever you share a link to an item on your Ag CMS site, whether you are posting a link to Facebook, sending it by email, printing it in a newsletter or creating an external link to it on your site, your should always use the public URL, not the URL you see as a logged-in Ag CMS user.

If the URL starts with "https://" and/or has "misc-sites," "rec-sites," "county-sites" or "academic-sites" in it, it is a URL intended only for Ag CMS users, not the public. In most cases, if you share that URL with someone they will be redirected to the Ag CMS login page when they click it.

Ag CMS URLs intended for the public start with "http://" and should never contain "misc-sites," "rec-sites," "county-sites" or "academic-sites." For example, when I am logged in to Ag CMS and view the NDSU Extension website, I see it at this URL, If you click that link, you will probably be prompted for an Ag CMS username and password. When you view the NDSU Extension website, you are seeing it at the URL, At that URL, anyone will be able to see published items in the site without logging in to Ag CMS.

Always use the public URL when sharing published Ag CMS items, even if you are sharing them with other Ag CMS users. It's the best way to be sure the people you are sharing with will be able to see what you want them to see.

Bob Bertsch, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-7381

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How to Change Your Password for Ag CMS

Once logged into Ag CMS, go to the gray tab in the upper right of your screen and choose "Preferences".



Click on the "Password" tab and enter your Current Password.

Type in your new password, and then type it in again to confirm it.

Password tab

Check out these tips from eXtension on how to create a strong password.

Sonja Fuchs, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-6403

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Use Correct NDSU Logos

NDSU green 2 linesSure, we all want to support the NDSU Athletics teams, but the bison logo is to be used only by the Athletics department. According to University Relations' logo use guidelines, bison mascot logos are trademarked and are the property of Athletics. They are to be used only for materials related to Athletics or with permission from Athletics.

An NDSU logo should be prominent on all NDSU communication with the public. The "NDSU" logo is a graphic, not just the four letters typed, so be sure to use an official University, department, AES or Extension logo.

A clear space equal to the height of the “NDSU” lettering is required on all sides of departmental logos. No text, patterns or other graphics should appear within this space.

If you need help creating a logo that meets Facebook, Twitter or other requirements in addition to NDSU's, contact Ag Comm Graphic Designer Dave Haasser at (701) 231-8620.

Becky Koch, Ag Communication Director, (701) 231-7875

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Facebook Page Set Up

We've posted a lot about Facebook Pages like how to schedule posts or adding multiple photos.

If you need to know how to get started, or need help with branding or how to add Admins, check out my recent presentation:  Facebook Page Set Up .

While you're at it, go here to Like us on Facebook

Sonja Fuchs, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-6403

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Write the Right Word: There, Their, They’re

Even though “there,” “their” and “they’re” sound the same, they don't have the same meaning, and they cannot be used interchangeably.

  • There - indicates a place. For example: Are we there yet?
  • Their – a word to show something belongs to someone. For example: The cows in the small pen are their cattle.
  • They’re – a contraction for “they are.” For example: They’re going to start the wheat harvest tomorrow.

Ellen Crawford, information specialist, (701) 231-5391

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New Feature in Ag CMS: Upload Multiple Files

so many filesThis new feature will save you time if you need to upload multiple items to Ag CMS. All you need to do is add a portlet and upload your files. Find out how to use the Quick Upload portlet.

Photo courtesy of Business Insider

Sonja Fuchs, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-6403

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Ag Google Custom Search Explained

The Google Custom Search box on Ag CMS and some other Ag websites searches only the Web servers that Ag Comm is aware of that host content for NDSU Agriculture and Extension. It is not a full Google function that searches the entire Web. The box is in the upper right on computers and tablets, and in the black footer on mobile devices

Here are the sites the Ag Google Custom Search now includes:

If you’re aware of sites that should be added, let Roger Egeberg know.

Search is usually a quicker way to find information than navigation. Just be sure to use words that are as specific as possible. For example, searching for “mold” in our Google Custom Search will provide results on mold in homes, white mold on vegetables and mold in stored corn. But searching for “white mold soybeans” gets you right to that information.

Also, write Web documents so keywords are in headlines and subheads and at the beginning of paragraphs. Writing for the Web is much different than writing for print, so follow these guidelines.

Another useful Google Custom Search is that searches Extension websites from around the country.

Becky Koch, Ag Communication Director, (701) 231-7875

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Resources Help You Continue Working

Here are a few handy resources you can use to continue working while out of the office:shared_drives

NDSU Departmental Drives

NDSU has implemented a way to access on-campus departmental and shared drives (sorry – no county or REC shares) from MOST Internet service providers.Follow these step-by-step instructions.

Note that the folder location (also known as he drive path) you need to enter will look the same as a secure website address (starts with https://). Entering it in a web browser will not work.

Cloud Storage

NDSU has contracted with both Google and Microsoft to provide additional storage (30GB and 25GB respectively) for each employee. However, while the services are currently available for use, they are not yet fully supported by NDSU IT. At this time, we strongly advise against storing any export-controlled data or data protected under HIPAA or FERPA on these drives as some servers may be located outside of the United States. Visit the U.S. Department of Commerce information on export restrictions.

Information about NDSU's SkyDrive and Google Drive are on the ITS collaboration and storage page.


You can access a Web version of Outlook from a computer or tablet connected to the Internet by visiting or clicking on Webmail under Online Services on the NDSU home page. All stored email, folders, contacts and calendar appointments are accessible. To log in, use your full email address and email password.

Setup of these resources can sometimes be a challenge. If you find yourself stuck, contact the Help Desk.

Jerry Ranum, Desktop Support Specialist; ITS Help Desk, (701) 231-8685

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