Desktop User Guides > Professional > Interview scripting > Writing interview scripts > Questions and responses > Setting default answers
Setting default answers
If you allow respondents not to answer certain questions, you must either include the special na (No answer) response in the list or define a default response. The interviewing program can then assign one of these responses as the answer when the respondent does not choose one. You can set a default answer in the metadata or the routing section. In the metadata section, append the following to the question definition:
where Answer is a valid answer to the question.
In the routing section, type:
Qname.Response.Default = Answer
Qname is the name of the question.
Answer is a valid answer to the question.
Categorical values must be enclosed in { } braces. If the question allows more than one response and you want to specify several default answers, separate those answers with commas and enclose the whole list in { } braces.
Here are some examples:
Gender "Are you ..." categorical [1..1]
GenderNA "No Answer" na
} defaultanswer({Female});
Pets "How many pets do you have?" long [0..9]
If you prefer to set the default answers in the routing section, you could type:
Gender.Response.Default = "{Female}"
Pets.Response.Default = 0
If the metadata and routing sections define different default answers for the same question, the definition in the routing section overrides the metadata setting. If the metadata defines an na response and a default answer, the default answer overrides na.
Whether you specify a default answer or define an na response is up to you and depends on what you want the respondent to see in the interview. When MustAnswer is False and the response list contains na, the interview scripting program does not display this response. If the respondent does not answer the question, na is set as the response, but if the respondent goes back to this question or it is displayed with .Show(), it appears to be unanswered. In contrast, in categorical response lists, the default answer is always displayed the same as all the other responses and, if the respondent goes back to the question or it is displayed with .Show(), that response will be marked as the chosen response.
MustAnswer should always be set to False. Default answers are not typically presented to the user. For information on presenting default values to the user, see Setting initial values.
See also
Questions with categorical responses