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Set rules for your form

You can create rules that people have to follow when they fill out your form. For example, if you ask for email addresses, you can make sure that people can only submit properly formatted email addresses.

Set up rules for a question

  1. Open a form in Google Forms.
  2. Add one of the following types of questions:
    • Short answer
    • Paragraph
    • Checkboxes
  3. Click More More.
  4. Click Response validation.
  5. Choose the type of rule you want.
  6. At the far right, type an error message that people will see when they enter an answer that breaks your rules.

Types of rules

Each question type that allows response validation has different settings.

Short answer
  • Number
    • Example: A whole number between 21 and 42.
  • Text
    • Example: Make sure that answers contain the word "candy," or are formatted as an email address or URL.
  • Length
    • Example: Limit answers to 500 characters or require at least 200 characters.
  • Regular expression: Require text answers to match certain formulas that you choose. Learn more about regular expressions.
Paragraph
  • Length: Require a maximum or minimum character count.
  • Example: Limit answers to 500 characters or require at least 200 characters.
  • Regular expression: Require text answers to match certain formulas that you choose. Learn more about regular expressions.
Checkboxes
  • Select at least: Set a minimum number of boxes that can be checked. Make sure that at least a certain number of boxes are selected.
  • Select at most: Set a maximum number of boxes that can be checked.
  • Select exactly: Specify the number of boxes that must be checked.

Regular expressions

You can require answers to match a particular set of criteria called regular expressions. Regular expressions search for patterns in the answers.

Examples of regular expressions
The table below shows a sample of just some of the expressions that Google Docs supports. There are, however, many other supported expressions users can employ.
Expression Description Example Matches Does not match
. A period signifies any character in the given position. d. do, dog, dg, ads fog, jog
* An asterisk after a character signifies a search for that preceding character repeated 0 or more times. do*g dog, dg, dooog dOg, doug
+ A plus after a character signifies a search for that character displayed 1 or more times. do+g dog, dooog dg, dOg, doug
? The previous expression is optional. do?g dg, dog dOg, doug
^ A caret must be placed at the beginning of a regular expression and signifies that the string starts with the character(s) or sequence placed after the caret. ^[dh]og dog, hog A dog, his hog
$ A dollar sign must be placed at the end of a regular expression and signifies that the string ends with the character(s) or sequence placed before the dollar sign. [dh]og$ dog, hog, hot dog dogs, hog, doggy
{A, B} The previous expression is repeated between A and B times, where A and B are numbers. d(o{1,2})g dog, doog dg, dooog, dOg
[x], [xa], [xa5] A character set indicates that just one of the given character(s) should occur in the current position. For the most part, any characters are valid within brackets, including characters mentioned previously in expressions: [xa,$5Gg.] d[ou]g dog, dug dg, dOg, dooog
[a-z] A character set range signifies a search for a character within the given range of characters. Common ranges include a-z, A-Z, and 0-9. Ranges can be combined into a single range: [a-zA-Z0-9]. Ranges can also be combined with character sets (mentioned previously): [a-zA-Z,&*]. d[o-u]g dog, dug, dpg, drg dg, dOg, dag
[^a-fDEF] A character set beginning with a ^ signifies a search for a character that is not within the given set. d[^aeu]g dog, dOg, dig, d$g dg, dag, deg, dug
\s Any white space character. d\sg d g, d[TAB]g dg, dog, doug

NOTE: When trying to search for actual instances of any character that has a specific meaning in regular expressions, like ^ and $, you need to "escape" the character in your search query by placing a backslash in front of it. For example, if you wanted to search for an instance of the $ character, you'd write \$.

Below are a couple of examples of how regular expressions could be used to search a spreadsheet:

Search for cells that contain dollar amounts

Enter the following in the Find bar: ^\$([0-9,]+)?[.][0-9]+

This signifies a dollar amount where the first number is any number 0-9 or comma occurring zero or more times, followed by [.], followed by any number 0-9 repeated one or more times. This search would return any of the following: $4.666, $17.86, $7.76, $.54, $900,001.00, $523,877,231.56

Search for cells containing US zip codes

Enter the following into the Find bar: [0-9]{5}(-[0-9]{4})?

This signifies a U.S. zip code consisting of five numbers with an optional hyphen and four-digit add-on.

Search for cells containing names beginning with a lowercase letter

Enter the following into the Find bar: ^[a-z].*

This signifies a cell input that contains a lowercase letter followed by another character 0 or more times. This search would return any of the following: bob, jim, gEORGE, marTin

Mary is a Docs & Drive expert and author of this help page. Leave her feedback below about the page.

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