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Including or excluding the 'Not Answered' row from tables and charts: what does this mean?

Jess Henderson -

Display options

When analysing your data in 'Responses Organised by Question', you can select different display options:

  • If you choose 'Include row for 'Not Answered' in tables and charts' then percentages are based on the total number of survey responses.
  • If you choose 'Do not include 'Not Answered' row in tables and charts' then percentages are based on the number of responses to that particular answer component.

Responses Organised by Question screen with radio button Display options to either 'include not answered' or 'do not include not answered'in tables and charts. Screenshot.

For example

Let's say 100 people have completed a survey. One of the questions in the survey is: 'Who is your favourite Beatle?'

It is a radio button question so respondents can only choose one favourite Beatle, but it is optional so users don't have to provide an answer.

Here's a breakdown of how they answered:

  • John - 29 people
  • Paul - 35 people
  • George - 8 people
  • Ringo - 11 people

Out of the 100 respondents, a total of 83 people answered this question, while 17 submitted the survey without answering this question.

With the 'Not Answered' row shown, percentages will be out of 100 — the total number of people who completed the survey, whether or not they answered this particular question. The report table would therefore look like this:

Responses organised by question chart showing answers and corresponding response numbers and percentages including 'not answered'. Screenshot.

Option Total Percent
John 29 29.00%
Paul 35 35.00%
George 8 8.00%
Ringo 11 11.00%
Not Answered 17 17.00%

With the 'Not Answered' row omitted, percentages are out of 83 — the number of responses for this question. The report table would therefore look like this:

Responses organised by question chart showing answers and corresponding response numbers and percentages excluding 'not answered'. Screenshot.

Option Total Percent
John 29 34.94%
Paul 35 42.17%
George 8 9.64%
Ringo 11 13.25%

Grouping

When you group answers by another quantitative question, the percentages are still calculated as above — therefore as a percentage of all answers to the survey or question (not as a percentage of the row or the column).

If any respondents answered the current question (Who is your favourite Beatle?') but did not answer the grouping question ('How old are you?'), then a 'Not Answered' column will be shown even if you've chosen to omit the 'Not Answered' row. This is to ensure that all answers are accounted for in the percentages.

For example if the Beatles question was grouped by another question asking respondents their age, the results would look like this:

Responses organised by question chart showing answers and corresponding response numbers and percentages for grouped question excluding 'not answered'. Screenshot.

Option Total 30 or Under 31-45 46-65 66 or Over Not Answered
John 29 (39.94%) 3 (3.61%) 9 (10.84%) 8 (9.64%) 7 (8.43%) 2 (2.41%)
Paul 35 (42.17%) 9 (10.84%) 8 (9.64%) 9 (10.84%) 9 (10.84%) 0 (0.00%)
George 8 (9.64%) 2 (2.41%) 1 (1.20%) 1 (1.20%) 2 (2.41%) 2 (2.41%)
Ringo 11 (13.25%) 2 (2.41%) 3 (3.61%) 2 (2.41%) 3 (3.61%) 1 (1.20%)

This tells us that 2 respondents who did not answer the age question selected John as their favourite Beatle.

Here, all the percentages in the table are based on the 83 respondents who answered the question 'Who is your favourite Beatle?'.

Filtering

Where filters are applied, percentages are based on the number responses (to the survey or the question) after responses have been filtered.

For example, if a filter is applied to the Beatles question to include only those that answered 'John', and then the grouping by age was applied, the numbers will be percentages of the total number of respondents who answered 'John'. The results would look like this:

Responses organised by question chart showing answers and corresponding response numbers and percentages for grouped question with filter applied

Option Total 30 or Under 31-45 46-65 66 or over Not Answered
John 29 (100.00%) 3 (10.34%) 9 (31.03%) 8 (27.59%) 7 (24.14%) 2 (6.90%)
Paul 0 (0.00%) 0 (0.00%) 0 (0.00%) 0 (0.00%) 0 (0.00%) 0 (0.00%)
George 0 (0.00%)  0 (0.00%)  0 (0.00%)  0 (0.00%)  0 (0.00%) 0 (0.00%)
Ringo 0 (0.00%) 0 (0.00%) 0 (0.00%) 0 (0.00%) 0 (0.00%)  0 (0.00%)

In this instance the percentages in the table will not change regardless of whether or not you have chosen to include 'Not Answered', because in choosing to filter by 'John' you have already chosen to filter out 'Not answered'. 

Watch our short video explaining how to include or exclude not answered.