Test Formatting

From Paper to eTest

Moving tests from paper to an electronic format might seem daunting, but, it’s really not that hard. It’s a matter of editing! Let’s get started!

First things first. Let’s start with question formats. Each question type has a specific formatting requirement that needs to be followed in order to have the test import properly.

Step 1: Copy and Paste

The first step is to copy and paste the test questions from the original document (probably a MS-Word document) to Notepad. Notepad is a free tool found on all Windows-based computers. Not sure where to find it? On Windows 10 machines, you’ll find it by clicking the Start button > Windows Accessories > Notepad.

Get Notepad by going to Start button > Windows Accessories > Notepad

Question Formatting

Let’s start with the most common and easiest. Multiple Choice.

Multiple Choice and True/False

  • Each question must begin with a question number, followed by either a period “.” or a parentheses “)”. Example: 3) or 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? or 3. Who determined the exact speed of light?
  • Each answer must begin with a letter (A-T) followed by a period “.” or a parentheses “)”.
    3) Who determined the exact speed of light?
    a. Albert Einstein
    b. Albert Michelson
    c. Thomas Edison
    *d. Olaus Roemer
  • Place an asterisk (*) directly in front of the answer choice (do not put a space between the asterisk and the answer choice).
    3) Thomas Edison determined the exact speed of light?
    a. True
    * b. False

Multiple Answers

Similar to Multiple Choice, but with more correct answers! Here’s the format.

Type: MA

2. Which of the following individuals are credited with determining the exact speed of light?
a. Albert Einstein
*b. Albert Michelson
c. Thomas Edison
*d. Edward Williams Morley


The first line of formatting must begin with “Type: MT“. This is followed by the question number, and the question wording.
Each answer (which consists of both parts of a correct match) must begin with a letter (a-t) followed by a period “.” or a parentheses “)”. The two parts of the match must be separated with an “=” symbol and there should not be any hard returns or blank lines within either parts of the answer.

Type: MT

  1. Match the correct name to the discovery or theory.
    a. Michelson-Morely = Speed of light
    b. Einstein = Theory of Relativity
    c. Marconi = radio waves

Spaces before or after the “=” symbol are optional, but it is important that an answer only uses the = symbol for the purpose of separating the two parts of the match. If you plan to list correct answers for other questions at the bottom of the document, simply skip the number for all questions that are of the matching variety.

Watch a video on creating Matching questions.


Fill-in-the-Blank questions have their own special format. The biggest challenge with them is making them self-grading. It’s virtually impossible to come up with every possible answer the students will guess. That said, they’re easy to format and use. Here’s how you format them in Notepad.

Type: F

  1. Who is known as the “father of television”?

Respondus allows only one correct answer per question, but it does permit you to enter multiple forms of that answer. Here’s what the entire question and acceptable answers would look like:

Type: F

  1. Who is known as the “father of television”?
    a. Zworykin
    b. Vladimir Zworykin
    c. Vladimir Kosma Zworykin

Multiple Fill-in-the-Blanks

You may have a question with multiple Fill-in-the-Blanks. The format for that is similar to above.

Type: FMB

5. A [rose] by any other [name] would smell as [sweet].

The correct answer must be inserted in the square brackets. If there are multiple possible answers, you would separate them by a comma.

5. A [rose, Rose, red flower] by any other [name] would smell as [sweet, fragrant].

Essay Questions

Essay questions require the least amount of work. There’s just the question. Because of the range of possible answers, there’s really no point providing an answer. These can’t be auto-graded. Here’s the format.


Type: E
4. How is the Michelson-Morley experiment related to Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity?

Questions with images

Formatting questions containing images is just a little more challenging. A reference to the image file needs to be added to the question, along with the ADA-compliant alternative text, which is used by screen readers.

Formatting a test question with an image looks like this:

40) Use Figure 10-1 to answer the following question:
[img: “10-1-Skeletal_Muscle_Fiber.jpg” “Picture of Skeletal Muscle Fiber”]

What is released from the structure labeled “9”?
A) sarcoplasm
*B) calcium ions
C) acetylcholine
D) acetylcholinesterase
E) protein

It’s important to note that the file name contains no spaces. It must be all one word. The ALT text, however, should be as descriptive as possible and contain appropriate spacing. Check out this video to see the formatting in action. The image file must be saved to the computer. It’s best to save the test file and the images in one folder.

Upload a test with images to Respondus

Once the test is created, upload the test and the images to Respondus to create the upload file to Blackboard. The video below will show you how.

Last Step!

Once the test is in Respondus, a few easy clicks will allow you to create a download file for importing into Blackboard. Click here for those directions.