Field Question Type

Field question types use a predetermined list of responses. With FIELD questions the program saves the answer exactly as entered. FIELD questions allow single or multiple responses per question.

PREPARE will assign sufficient data columns to accommodate the maximum number of responses allowed. The default is no subtype, and one response. Existing data in the location of the FIELD question will be overwritten when it executes.

Since FIELD questions store the response code, the default width is the width of the response codes times the maximum number of responses. The response code can be up to nine characters. There is an overall limit of 5000 columns.  The overall limit for the maximum number of response codes is over 10,000. The actual limit is dependent upon how much text is on each response. The responses are stored in the order entered. All answers are stored in consecutive columns.

The syntax for a FIELD question type is:

!FIELD,subtype(s),number of responses

Valid Subtypes

  • Add_Responses
  • Blank_OK
  • DBR_File_Name=
  • Hide_Response_List
  • Include_Exclude
    • Excluded_Labels
    • Included_Labels
    • Excluded_Responses
    • Included_Responses
    • Web_Survent_Exclude_Response
  • Match_Text_When_Highlightcats
  • Maximum_Responses
  • Show_Text_Responses_Only
  • Sort_By_Code
  • Sort_By_Text
  • Use_Previous_Answer


Shortform: FLD,ADD

The ADD_RESPONSES subtype allows you to re-enter responses to a FIELD question and not overwrite existing codes.   You may use +code or -code to add or subtract codes.  It also displays any codes that were already in the data. The +code or -code string can combine codes such as +123-45 to add codes 1,2, and 3 and remove codes 4 and 5. This is most useful for after-the-fact Coding mode questionnaires, where you are coding open-end responses into existing code lists. In Highlightcats and Echocats mode, the items that are already in the data are marked as chosen when the question is presented. For these modes, it will highlight the responses already chosen and you can then add or subtract codes.

To add or subtract codes, the second question must use the same data location as the first. In regular mode it displays (010406)→ in the prompt to show that codes 01, 04, and 06 are already chosen; you can then say -01+05 etc. to subtract the “01” and add an “05” code.

NOTE: This subtype allows you to leave the question without making any changes, even if the question is initially blank. If this is a concern, put a question after the FIELD,ADD_RESPONSES to reset if the location is blank.


Shortform: FLD,BLKOK

The BLANK_OK subype allows the question to be unanswered (and thus blank in the data). Use this with caution as it is difficult to track the interviewers’ movements if some questions are blank.

This is useful in webSurvent grids, when you want to allow blanks in some fields, but require answers in others. With a FIELD,BLANK_OK no data will be recorded, so nothing will be in the answer array.   


Shortform: DBR=

Disk-based field questions allow you to have an unlimited response list set up in levels, and allow you to modify the list while interviewing is in progress. (See Disk-Based Field Questions for Large Response Lists).


Shortform: FLD,HIDERESP 

The HIDE_RESPONSE_LIST subtype hides the response list during the interview. This is used when a series of questions uses the same response list or if you want to format the screen differently from the default response list format. 



The INCLUDE_EXCLUDE subtype allows you to include or exclude responses from prior questions with the same code list or include/exclude particular codes in the list.  This is typically used for unaided/aided groups of questions with the same response list.

  • Allows you to include responses from some questions and exclude responses from others.
  • Does not require moving data into the location first with a GENERATE statement.
  • Records the new answers only.

The syntax for a FIELD question subtype INCLUDE_EXCLUDE is:

!FIELD,INCLUDE_EXCLUDE,# responses,suboptions

Valid Suboptions

    • Controls which question answers to exclude from the questions’ code list.
    • Multiple questions’ answers can be excluded.
    • Controls which question answers to include as allowable for this questions’ code list.
    • By default all answers are allowed.
    • Multiple questions’ answers can be included.
    • Controls which responses to not allow in the questions’ code list, even if mentioned previously.
    • Controls which responses to also allow in the questions’ code list, even if not mentioned previously.
    • Used for multi-mode surveys.
    • Controls which responses to allow in questions from a Survox Phone mode survey but does not allow in questions from a Survox Online mode survey.
    • Controls which responses to also allow in the questions’ code list, even if not mentioned previously.


Which one of the following colors is your favorite?
1 Red
2 Blue
3 Green
4 Orange
5 Yellow
6 Purple
7 Pink }
Which color is your second favorite?
1 Red
2 Blue
3 Green
4 Orange
5 Yellow
6 Purple
7 Pink
9 None of the above }

In this example, the color chosen in QCHOICE1 is EXCLUDED from the colors in QCHOICE2 and the response NONE OF THE ABOVE is INCLUDED in QCHOICE2.


Exclude the Don’t Know answer from the online survey.
1 Yes
2 No
9 Don’t Know }

In this example, the DON’T KNOW response will be EXCLUDED from online surveys but INCLUDED in phone surveys.

FIELD questions that use the subtype INCLUDE_EXCLUDE can also use ranges to define the responses that are used in the INCLUDED_RESPONSES and EXCLUDED_RESPONSES lists.




  • Specify options in order shown; while not required, they indicate the precedence given.
  • If there is no INCLUDE question, the default is to include all responses in the list.
  • The lists from question to question do not have to match but must have the same response code width.
  • Unmatched codes from list items are ignored.



When using Highlightcats mode to mark responses on the screen, the MATCH_TEXT_WHEN_HIGHLIGHTCATS subtype causes the interviewer’s text to match the TEXT of the response rather than the default, which is to match the response code. This is especially useful for very long, alphabetically-sorted lists. You may also use the header statement option HCAT_MATCH_TEXT to have the questionnaire use this feature whenever Highlightcats mode is used.  This subtype is used with terminal mode phone surveys.

Highlightcats Mode

If you use the HIGHLIGHT_CATS compiler command prior to a FIELD question, the response list will be displayed with the first response highlighted. You can use the arrow keys on a monitor; use Ctrl-U,D,R,L on a terminal to move around on the list or you can type a response code and the highlight bar will move to that position on the list. ESC or Enter will accept the response for single response questions (+/- or Ins/Del for multiple response questions). (See HIGHLIGHT_CATS) for more information on this command.)


  • Questions in this mode should not use the caret (^) as a response code.
    • When the interviewer presses Enter, the program will back up to the previous question instead of entering the appropriate punch as a response.
  • The study header option ECHO_CATS overrides Highlightcats mode.
  • Using Highlightcats mode will also cause questions that are too big to fit on one screen to display on multiple pages.
  • This is used mainly for terminal mode phone surveys.

Echocats Mode

If you use the ECHO_CATS header option, the ECHO_CATS compiler command, or have Echocats capability assigned to you in the employee file, you will be able to enter multiple responses to FIELD questions one at a time, pressing Enter in-between responses. Each time you press Enter, the chosen response(s) will have its response code(s) highlighted so you can more easily identify the responses already entered. This happens only on multiple-response questions unless the ECHO_CATS option specifies to do it on single-response questions as well.  This options is used mainly for terminal mode phone surveys.


Shortform: MAX=

The FIELD type question allows for either a single response or multiple responses.  The MAXIMUM_RESPONSES= defines how many responses are allowed to be answered.


This is a single response FIELD type question.
1 Yes
2 No }
This is a multiple response FIELD type question.
1 Red
2 Blue
3 Green
4 Orange
5 Yellow }



The SHOW_TEXT_RESPONSES_ONLY subtype will only show response codes with text.

This is designed so that you can have a question with back-references on it, and only the ones that have been filled will be displayed. This is similar to the FIELD,INCLUDE_EXCLUDE,INCLUDED_LABELS feature except that you don’t have to have a controlling label filled in order to determine what to do on this question.


1 This always shows
3 }

In this example, the text for response code 1 will always display.  The text for response code 2 will only display if there is an answer to PRIORQ.  Response code 3 will never display since there is no associated text. 



The SORT_BY_CODE subtype displays the response list in alphabetical order, sorted by response code. 



The SORT_BY_TEXT subtype displays the response list in alphabetical order, sorted by response text.



The USE_PREVIOUS_ANSWER subtype applies response text to a code in the data without presenting a question to the interviewer (i.e., the question is hidden from the interviewer). The FIELD,USE_PREVIOUS_ANSWER may be placed on a prior question to get the data it needs, or the data may be copied to it by a previous GENERATE, SPECIAL, or PHONE statement. The response text corresponding to the filled codes in the FIELD,USE_PREVIOUS_ANSWER response list can then be displayed in subsequent questions.

NOTE: You will be aborted from the Survent interview with error #108 if this executes and there is no data in the field matching a response code unless you have used the caret (^^) response code as one of your codes to allow blank.

FIELD_USE_PREVIOUS_ANSWER response lists may include a catch-all category at the end consisting of question marks (eg. ?? text), where there are as many question marks as needed to match the number of characters in the response codes of other items. This category will then allow unmatched items in the data and assign them the corresponding text.

Using Combinations of Subtypes

  • Combinations of subtypes may be specified by entering the two keywords in any order, separated by a comma.
  • Options USE_PREVIOUS_ANSWER, HIDE_RESPONSE_LIST, SORT_BY_CODE, and SORT_BY_TEXT cannot be used or combined with each other.
  • Subtype INCLUDE_EXCLUDE can be specified in addition to subtypes HIDE_RESPONSE_LIST to hide the list, SORT_BY_CODE or SORT_BY_TEXT to order by response code or text.
  • You can combine subtypes USE_PREVIOUS_ANSWER and BLANK_OK to have an auto-fill response that also allows blanks.



NOTE: Use this with caution because no data is recorded and it may be hard to determine whether this is due to logic skips or skipping through the question.