How do I Write a Questionnaire Cover Letter?

Mark Wollacott
Mark Wollacott
A cover letter is typically attached to the questionnaire and explains how answers will remain confidential.
A cover letter is typically attached to the questionnaire and explains how answers will remain confidential.

There are a couple of different ways to approach a questionnaire cover letter, but in almost all cases you’ll want to include an introduction of the project, why you’re asking for information, and a brief summary of what you’ll do with the data that’s collected; it’s also usually a good idea to provide some reason or explanation that can encourage people to continue through and answer all the questions. Including instructions and any special guidelines is also usually a good idea, and providing a phone number or address people can contact for more information can be helpful, too. The overarching format of the letter can be formal or casual depending on the audience and subject matter, though many people choose more of a business letter format. This can help the packet look official while imparting a degree of confidence and professionalism to the project as a whole.

Understand the Letter’s Purpose

It’s often a good idea to take a few moments to think about your questionnaire and its goals before sitting down to write your cover letter. You’ll want to consider why you’re sending the questions out in the first place, as well as who is receiving them. If everyone who is going to be getting the questionnaire is expecting it, you can assume a bit more familiarity than would be appropriate for recipients who are more or less random, or who don’t necessarily know you, your company, or the project at all.

Set Out Basic Information

Once you’ve given some thought to the audience and how recipients are likely to view the materials, it’s time to get started. Most letter writers start with very basic information, including the date, your name and address, and the contact information for the company commissioning the survey. Some companies write their own questionnaires, in which case this can of course be skipped; in the event that the survey has been contracted out, though, introducing these details is usually important right at the beginning. p>

Outline the Project

In general, it’s a good idea to use the first paragraph to introduce yourself and the commissioning company. Include details on the philosophy and outlook to help familiarize the recipient with the goals of the company and the scope of the project. Then, in the next paragraph, introduce the questionnaire itself. Use the space to explain the objectives and why it has been commissioned. If the company is looking to develop new products, receive feedback or develop policy, then let the respondent know. It’s also important to discuss how the responses will be used, and if they will be kept confidential.

Provide Instructions

The third paragraph should contain details about how to complete the questionnaire and any pertinent instructions. This includes any time limit on responding, how the questionnaire can be returned, and the nature of the questionnaire’s format. If all or part of the questionnaire is online, you’ll want to be sure to provide the right web address and any needed passwords or user codes.

You will probably also want to take a few sentences to discuss the sort of responses you’re looking for, and what recipients can do if they want to provide additional information or feedback. You might explain if the survey is all multiple choice or if it requires detailed answers, for instance. At some point it’s also usually necessary to state that returning the survey serves as the giving of consent to use the details provided.

Express Appreciation

It’s common to use the final paragraph to express your appreciation for the recipient's response. Acknowledging the time the respondent will take to fill out and return the questionnaire is usually a good idea, and if there are any prizes or drawings associated with completed submissions, this can be a good time to let respondents know about them.

Most people end the questionnaire cover letter with a closing such as “Sincerely,” and you should usually repeat your name and job title here. Once finished, check the document for spelling and grammar errors, re-read it, prepare it for distribution.

Discussion Comments


I think writing in general is a lost art. Cover letters seem to be particularly suffering. I review resumes as part of my job, and the cover letters are often crude at best, or just plain missing. I can't imagine that the average questionnaire cover letter is much better.

It makes sense to have one on a survey, especially if it is sent to a targeted group of people. If you just hand someone a list of questions, why would they take the time to answer it? A little explanation is always good.


@Greenweaver - I agree and I have to say that there are plenty of examples on how to put together a sample cover letter on the internet, so there is really no excuse for forgetting to do it. I wonder if people that don’t send a resume with a cover letter just not know that it is standard business practice to do so, or are some people just lazy and don’t want to do it?


I think that a questionnaire should definitely have a cover letter explaining the purpose of the questionnaire. Most people that receive questionnaires or surveys just throw them away because they don’t want to be bothered.

I also think that a cover letter for a resume is a must because most companies receive hundreds of resumes and really one of the few ways that you can stand out is by providing cover letter with a resume.

It shows your professionalism and demonstrates an attention to detail that a lot of applicants miss. I used work as a recruiter and I got all kinds of resumes, but I did not always get a cover letter to go with it.


It’s really hard to find good cover letter samples for these kinds of letters, but most of the time common sense can guide you through the process of it simply enough.

I typically write mine with the basic cover letter in mind, but I also make sure to address what the questionnaire is about and why it is important the recipient participate.

It’s also a good idea to be polite and to try to sale your questionnaire, but don’t overdo it. People can see that overdone car salesmen’s pitch from a mile away.

Common courtesy is a really good concept to keep in mind right along with common sense when writing a questionaire cover letter.


It seems like we have gotten away from niceties and such in our society today, but I’ll tell you what; if you want somebody to do something for you (like fill out your questionnaire) you really should be appreciative of their time.

I think that by taking the time to write a decent questionnaire cover letter, you are definitely making sure that they know what they are doing is something you appreciate.

There is nothing I hated more when I worked for our local school system than to be handed a piece of paper with all of this stuff for me to fill out on it, but the administrators never taking the time to properly address the process in a letter form.

Niceties or not, some things should just be done.


@CaithnessCC - You are probably going to have quite a decent return rate because the questionnaire is linked to work colleagues. Generally though I think it's a good idea to include mention of some kind of incentive in the cover letter.

I know that I'm more likely to return something like this if I'll be entered into a draw or have a chance of some other kind of prize.


I've seen some examples of a cover letter to be used when sending a questionnaire, but they weren't very good. This article has saved my bacon as I was struggling to know exactly what should be included, and how it should be set out.

See-ing as its fallen to me to poll every worker in my company on the subject of changes to our staff uniform, I need to make sure I get it right.

I'm going to leave aome space for people to add comments, which will hopefully avoid anyone complaining they had no chance to share their ideas and opinions.


With an at home business that is doing a bit of research for their product, do you think that the questionnaire cover letter should contain any images?

For myself I am not certain if everyone will be familiar with the item and would really like to add a picture so that families have more than just a text description to go from.

If an image is acceptable, how large do you think it should be?

If possible I would like to add the image to the main cover letter and not add an entirely extra sheet for just an image. I am sure if I do it all in one shot I will save money.


If you are in any kind of social studies program there is a good chance you are going to be asked to make a questionnaire cover letter at some point. When I was taking sociology we had to gather data for one of our final projects so my group figured out it would be easiest to just use a questionnaire to get the information needed.

If you are making a questionnaire cover letter it is vital that you put what the data is being used for and any privacy notes you may wish to add. A lot of people are very concerned about where their information is going so burying this information at the back is not a good idea.

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    • A cover letter is typically attached to the questionnaire and explains how answers will remain confidential.
      By: nito
      A cover letter is typically attached to the questionnaire and explains how answers will remain confidential.