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Copy and paste when you have long lists in Google Forms

Long list imageWhen you ask a question on a Google Form that has many response options, you don't need to enter each one manually.

For instance, if you ask the question "Which ND county do you live in?" you don't have to type in each of the county names for the response options. You can just copy and paste from a list online or in a document right into your form.

See YouTube video (3:48) about long lists in Google Forms.

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

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Like Ag Comm Web Services on Facebook

You can keep up with the latest in social media and web technology by liking NDSU Ag Comm Web Services on Facebook.

Recently we shared information on changes Facebook has been making that could affect how many people see your Facebook posts, tips on strengthening your passwords and recommendations for word processing options on iPad.

Bob Bertsch, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-7381
Sonja Fuchs, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-6403

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Social Shares on Ag CMS

AddThisYou may have noticed the small Facebook and Twitter icons next to a "Share" button on your Ag CMS content (see image). They are part of the social sharing bar that is automatically added to each of the main content items in the Ag CMS. The social sharing bar allows people viewing an item on your website to quickly share it on Facebook, on Twitter, by email or any one of almost 300 other ways.

Over the past year, people viewing our web content have used the social sharing bar to share 2,813 times, and those shares have led directly to 1,947 visits to our websites. That's almost 2,000 visits that would have not taken place, if someone had not shared our content with their friends, family and co-workers.

You can make your content more shareable by using a short, descriptive title; by including images that will make for a more interesting social media post; and by posting content that is timely and relevant.

Let me know if you want to learn more about the social sharing bar or about making your content more shareable.

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

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Web Services Offers 1-on-1 Meetings

Ag Communication's Web Services team will be offering "1-on-1" days February, 19, 20, 21 and 24.

Admit One"1-on-1" days are set aside for individual meetings with people who have an in-depth question, need guidance with a new tool, want some help with a project or just want to talk about technology.

You can sign up to meet with either Sonja Fuchs or Bob Bertsch about Ag CMS, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, eXtension resources, personal learning networks, online meetings, web analytics, social media metrics or anything else you want to talk about.

Just go to to sign up for a 30-minute block of time (or 2 if you need more time).

We look forward to talking with you!

Bob Bertsch, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-7381
Sonja Fuchs, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-6403

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Write the Right Word: Possessive vs. Descriptive Phrase

The difference between a possessive and a descriptive phrase is that the first takes an apostrophe when you add an “s” and the second does not.

You must add “’s” when you are indicating that something belongs to someone or something. For example: “We found five of the neighbor’s cows in our pasture.” Or this: “The cat’s paws were very muddy.”

However, you do not need to add an apostrophe to a word ending in “s” when that word is being used in a descriptive sense. For example: “The new leaders guide will be available next month.” Or this: “We agreed to the Elks request for funding.”

Here’s a good way to determine whether you need an apostrophe: You don’t need it if you can rewrite the sentence and use the words “by” or “for.” Because you could say “the new guide for leaders” or the “request by the Elks,” you wouldn’t need an apostrophe.

Another test is whether the item belongs to someone or something. The guide doesn’t belong to the leaders and the request doesn’t belong to the Elks.

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

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NDSU Cloud Storage Provides Opportunities to Work Remotely and Share Data

Cloud-based storage -- the ability to store and share data online -- is a very useful tool to those who find themselves working from a remote location or collaboratively. NDSU now has two cloud storage options: Google Drive and Microsoft SkyDrive Pro. These two options are very similar and provide a reasonable amount of storage space: 30GB for Google Drive and 25GB for SkyDrive Pro.

Google Drive is just one in a set of tools created by Google for online use. This 30GB of space can act as a storage area accessible from both work and home, and as a space to share documents with others. Google Drive can be accessed by either a Web browser or a client installed on your computer/portable device. To access from the Web, visit the Google home page, click on the "sign in" button in the upper right corner and log in with your NDSU credentials. If you have not yet set up your NDSU account with Google, follow the NDSU instructions.

Learn more about Google Drive. If you've used Google Docs or other Google services with a gmail account, you'll be asked to choose your or account at login.

Microsoft SkyDrive Pro offers 25GB of space that also can be used for both online storage and file sharing. It can be accessed from a tab in your Office 365 Webmail, through a downloadable app on your computer/portable device or through features integrated into Microsoft Office 2013. As with Google Drive, files can be shared with and edited by others. Due to its utilization of SharePoint, the SkyDrive Pro integration inside MS Office may appear somewhat confusing.  When saving a document in Office 2013, SkydriveSkyDrive Pro will appear as a SharePoint icon titled "North Dakota University System."

For additional information, visit the MS Office SkyDrive Pro site or the information on how to start using your team site, SkyDrive Pro, and Newsfeed to share documents and ideas.

While both options are similar in operation and offerings, how you currently use online tools will be the best barometer as to which one will fit your needs. If you primarily collaborate with others using Google Docs or other Google tools, Google Drive may be your best choice due to its familiarity and integration with other Google products. If you are more accustomed to using SharePoint and/or Microsoft Office to work with others or are not using any Google tools, SkyDrive Pro may be the better bet. With direct access to it from Office 2013 and the online NDSU email portal, SkyDrive Pro is easy to access and one less password to remember.

However, the real benefit is that you don’t’ have to choose; you can have both. Even if you only use one for collaboration, the other can be used for storage. With a combined total of 55GB of storage space, you can easily do your work and also keep backup copies of your most important files.

Learn more about Collaboration and Storage options and how to choose one.

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

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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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