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REDCap Tips & Tricks

Options for Customization

  1. Multiple Choice Fields: Copy Existing Choices

When building your forms where you are using the same set of choices for different multiple choice fields, you can click on the link “Copy Existing Choices” (found above the Choice dialogue box in the “Add New Field” popup). This will ensure consistent coding among questions.

  1. Add several matrices on a single survey page with the survey configured for multiple pages

To accomplish this, you can create a Section Header at the top of the group of matrices, then create the matrices with no matrix header. Leaving out the matrix header will suppress the forcing to a new page in surveys. If each matrix needs a header, you can opt for the Descriptive Field prior to the beginning of each matrix and style it with HTML.

  1. Email Notifier Plugin

The Email Notifier tool can be found in Applications section of all REDCap projects. You can set up a trigger that will generate an email to anyone on the project when a form instrument has been saved. Good for cross team communication for workflow.

  1. Survey Progress Bar

Since REDCap does not provide a progress bar, a fellow REDCap user from Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Australia provided this clever solution:


<div style=”width:100%;border:0;margin:0;padding:0;background-color:#A9BAD1;text-align:center;”>

<div style=”width:33%;border: 0;margin:0;padding:0;background-color:#8491A2″><span style=”color:#8491A2″>.</span>



Determine how many surveys you have and then place this at the top of each survey instructions and adjust the “width:33%” part to the appropriate proportion. Also, feel free to change the colors as well.

Best Practices:

  • Always keep a copy of your Data Dictionary (Downloaded to Excel)
  • Do not change variable names or values of categorical field types once you begin collecting real data
  • Group variables together that follow the data entry work flow
  • Keep forms fairly short to minimize risk of data loss
  • Use categorical field types (yes/no, multiple choice, etc.) whenever possible
  • When using text fields, add field validation to minimize data entry errors
  • Involve a statistician early during the development of the database
  • Using the multi-page surveys feature will allow the participant to complete the survey in sections with each completed page uploading to REDCap
  • Enable the Save and Return later feature for large surveys


Allowable HTML Tags

  1. Text Formatting





  1. Additional Tags Supported

<p>  <img>  <td>

<a>  <span>  <tr>

<h3>  <div>  <th>

<h2>  <em>  <acronym>

<h1>  <strong>  <table>


  1. Font Sizes

<font size=1>text</font>

<font size=2>text</font>

<font size=3>text</font>

(any # for the font size)


  1. Alignments

<center>center text</center>


  1. Font Colors

<font color=”red”>text</font>

<font color=”blue”>text</font>

<font color=”green”>text</font>

<font color=”yellow”>text</font>

(insert any color to test if it will work)


  1. Indented Text

<div style=”padding-left: 3em”> This is a question with indented text </div>