Software to help do guided outlines with automatically populated fields from previous answers?
June 28, 2009 1:20 PM   Subscribe

I'm trying to construct a digital worksheet that will walk someone through an outlining and drafting process for creating a report. Basically, the user should be able to answer the questions I put forward (either in a textfield, list, or textarea) and what would come out is an outline for a technical paper, grant proposal, etc. Is there software or features of software to support this? Microsoft Office or exportable formats are preferable.

I could sort of do this right now in Word or PowerPoint. In Word, I simply would put questions and the user could answer them. I would then say something like "Copy and paste your answer to Question 6 here. Name 3 things that would constitute a risk to this item." Unfortunately, that requires alot of cut and pasting on the part of the user. Also, Word kind of lets someone go on and on and on and I'd like to have them focus on outlining and using brief statements.

Alternatively I could do this in PowerPoint, and ask someone to make a new slide with the title of a bullet point from the previous slide. This would force brief statement, but again, lots of instruction and cut and pasting. I would like it if I could automate this process someone. Sort of like how in Excel you can take the data from one cell and put it in another.

So, does some Holy Grail of software exist that supports guided outlining / worksheets with automatic data population from previous answers? Or does someone have a nifty approach I could use instead within Word or PowerPoint? I guess I might be able to construct it with Access with Forms, but that seems a bit complicated.
posted by miasma to Writing & Language (2 answers total)
Someone I work with made a questionnaire in Google docs that exported the data into a form... I'm sketchy on the details but might be worth looking into. As a bonus, it's web-accessible.
posted by Billegible at 2:06 PM on June 28, 2009

@Billedgible I didn't know that Google Docs has forms, but it totally does, and it could hook it up to a spreadsheet to produce summary results or individual results. Very cool, but unfortunately I don't see a way to have one question impact the data in another question.

Definitely a cool feature of Google docs, but I'm looking for more of an outlining program and not a form / survey / data collection program.
posted by miasma at 2:30 PM on June 28, 2009

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