Coding Write-In Responses in a Census

Publication Date: June 2020

Publisher: UNFPA, U.S. Department of Commerce, United States Agency for International Development


All census instruments include questions that require respondents to provide write-in answers. Write-in fields allow respondents to answer in free text format rather than with predetermined response categories. Write-in responses empower respondents by allowing them to answer questions freely, unconstrained by preset answer categories. However, the inclusion of write-in fields in a questionnaire poses particular challenges for National Statistical Offices (NSOs) during data collection and processing.

This Select Topics in International Censuses (STIC) technical note provides NSOs with information on internationally recognized standards on automated coding of write-in answers in a census.


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