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Importing Questions through Respondus

Why Do This?

You can create or edit quiz questions comfortably in a Word document and then use Respondus to import the Word document into Canvas as a Quiz or as aQuestion Bank. You can always manually copy/paste the questions from Word into a new question directly in Canvas, but if you have quite a few questions, it can be faster to use Respondus.

This guide covers multiple choice questions. For more information on importing other question types, see pages 47 through 55 of this Respondus User Guide.

For more information on using the Respondus Text Bank Network see page 7 in this Respondus User Guide.


Importing a Word document is a multi-part process that involves:

  1. Formatting the questions in your word document.
  2. Using CougarApps to run Respondus.
  3. Importing questions into Respondus.
  4. Previewing questions to confirm accuracy.
  5. Publishing questions from Respondus into your course in Canvas.

Formatting the questions in your Word document

Respondus will import multiple choice, true-false, essay, short answer, matching, and multiple response questions. The plain text, rich text, or MS Word file must be organized in the “Standard Format” before it can be imported into Respondus. The Standard Format for multiple choice questions has required elements and optional elements, each of which is described below.

Multiple Choice and True/False

You must use the list and number functions in Word.

number icon on toolbar in Word

Each question begins with a question number, followed by either a period “.” or a parenthesis “)”.

Example:  3)

Example: 3.

The question wording must follow the question number. Note: at least one space should be between the question number and the question wording.

Example: 3) Who determined the exact speed of light?

Example: 3. Who determined the exact speed of light?

Each answer choice (distractor) must begin with a letter (A-Z) followed by a period “.” or a parenthesis “)”.


3. Who determined the exact speed of light?
a. Albert Einstein
b. Albert Michelson
c. Thomas Edison
d. Guglielmo Marconi

Create an answer key

First option: The more reliable and easier option is to place a list of correct answers at the end of the file. The list must begin with the word “Answers:” and the answers should start on the following line (no blank lines are allowed). Note that any text after the answer list will be ignored.


1. a
2. b
3. c

Second option: Place an asterisk (*) directly in front of the answer choice (do not put a space between the asterisk and the answer choice).


3. Who determined the exact speed of light?
a. Albert Einstein
*b. Albert Michelson
c. Thomas Edison
d. Guglielmo Marconi

This can be difficult to do in Word which wants to auto-number the answer options, which is why we recommend the first option.

Other Question Types

For more information on importing other question types, see pages 47 through 55 of this Respondus User Guide.

Running CougarApps

You will need to use CougarApps to access the Respondus software. Please visit CSUSM’s page on CougarApps to access CougarApps and learn more about using it.

Once in CougarApps, click on Apps at the top.

Apps tab

Click the All tab in the upper left.

All tab

Scroll down and click on Respondus.

Respondus icon

Importing questions into Respondus

Once you are in Respondus, the next step is to import your Word document.

WARNING: Prior to August 22nd the default LMS will be Moodle. If you are importing into Canvas, change the "Current Personality" from Moodle to Canvas before beginning.

1. From the Start menu, Select Import Questions.

import option to upload quiz questions

The following dialog box will appear.

import questions dialog box

2. Choose the file type of the file that will be imported. It must match the file format of your document containing the questions. Supported files include .txt, .rtf, .doc, and .docx.

3. Click the Browse button to locate and select the file to be imported. When navigating keep in mind you are within the virtual desktop in CougarApps. To make finding your file easier, use a flash drive.

4. In Step 2, select Create a New document, and enter a name. Later this will be the title of the category. For example, “F17 BIOL 233 Chapter 1.”

5. Click the Preview button to check for error warnings.

6. The preview results pane below will indicate if there are any errors detected. If there are errors, check "Cancel this import" and check your document for formatting errors.

7. If the preview is successful, click the Finish button.

Previewing questions

1. Towards the top of the screen, select the Preview & Publish tab.

preview the file prior to uploading it

2. In the center menu, select Preview.

preview questions uploaded to Respondus

3. Notice the total number of questions being displayed. Does this number match the number of questions in your original document? If not, pay close attention as you click through each question. Some questions may have been erroneously combined into one.
4. Select Next to view each question one at a time. Confirm the question text, the answer choices, and the correct answer are all accurately displayed.
5. If you find any errors, you may select Modify Item to fix the question in Respondus.
6. When you’re satisfied, select Close.

Publishing to Canvas

1. Remain on or navigate back to the Preview & Publish tab towards the top of Respondus.
2. Select Publish from the left menu, then click on the Publish Wizard link.

Select publish, then Publish to Moodle

3. Leave the default settings on the first page of the Publish Wizard. Select Next.

Publish Wizard with Next button on the bottom


4. A small pop-up window will appear. Click OK.

Ok button in small pop-up window

5. Another pop-up window will open. You will first be prompted to enter your CSUSM email, and then your CSUSM password. Finally, you will need to authenticate using Duo.

enter campus email and click Next

You might be prompted to authorize access to your Canvas account. Click Authorize.

Authorize button

Return to Respondus and click OK in the small pop-up window.

Ok button in small pop-up window

6. Select if you want either a Graded Quiz or a Question Bank created. Make any changes to the Quiz/Question Bank name. Click Next.

publish wizard with assessment type and name

7. Choose the course. Click Next.

List of Canvas courses in Publish Wizard

8. Verify the questions were uploaded successfully and click Finish.

Finish button in Publish Wizard