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NewsQuiz.js - Make quizzes using Google Spreadsheets

Sample screenshot


NewsQuiz.js turns data from a Google Spreadsheet into a nice quiz, with lots of flexible options and a fluid layout. Uses Tabletop, Bootstrap, jQuery, and Google Spreadsheets. It's easy!

Examples in the wild

Basic Demo

Advanced Demo

[Which Bundy Said It: Cliven, Al, Ted, or McGeorge?] (

[Quiz: Who's More Metal, the Cat or the Owner?] (

[Quiz: Match the Political Scandal to the Apology] (

How it works

MoJo staffers: get started by following these instructions.

This tool offers a simple way to create quizzes using only a little bit of code and a Google spreadsheet. The quizzes work well with text and photos, and you can embed source links at your pleasure. Also works well on mobile. Let's get started.

Set up a Google Spreadsheet

Start a new Google Spreadsheet with the following column headers:

question title	question text	right	right text	wrong	wrong text

MoJo staffers: Make sure you move the spreadsheet the relevant beat folder in the Mother Jones Google Drive. Rename the spreadsheet appropriately. Change owner to MoJo Data in Share > Advanced

(Don't sweat if you want to include extra goodies like images, videos, or additional titles—we'll get to that later).

Write in all of your questions and answers. Want to include links? Stick anchor tags right in the cells.

In Google Docs, go up to the File menu and pick Publish to the web. Fiddle with whatever you want, then click Start publishing. A URL will appear, something like

Copy that! In theory you're interested in the part between key= and & but you can use the whole thing if you want.

Demo spreadsheet

Modify your project files (required)

Set up your index.html page (this is the html page that has to go up on S3). Use the following (don't forget to grab your spreadsheet key):

<!DOCTYPE html>
        <link href="" rel="stylesheet" media="screen" type="text/css">
        <link href="css/style.css" rel="stylesheet" media="screen" type="text/css">
        <div class="container-fluid">
            <div id="quiz"></div>

            <script src="js/jquery.js" type="text/javascript"></script>
            <script src="js/tabletop.js" type="text/javascript"></script>
            <script src="js/script.js" type="text/javascript"></script>
            <script type="text/javascript">
                var quiz = jQuery('#quiz').quiz('YOUR SPREADSHEET KEY GOES HERE'); //your published spreadsheet key or URL goes here


After you get your index.html page on S3 and get the distribution URL, you'll use this code in the Source view of your CMS:

  <div id="graphic"></div>
  <script type="text/javascript" src=""></script>
        var pymParent = new pym.Parent('graphic', 'distribution URL here', {});

If you've followed the setup correctly, that should be all you need!

Advanced Quiz

Let's get fancy.

Want to mix pictures and video into your questions and answers? Want to add an extra title to some of your answers, but not all? We've included lots of flexible features.

See a demo of an advanced quiz with extra bells and whistles here. The spreadsheet driving this advanced demo is here.


Add question, answer, right, or wrong before any of these options in your column headers to apply to the right portion of your quiz item. See the demo spreadsheet to see these options in action. You don't have to include all of these values for each item; see the section on Defaulting below.

top image puts an image above the title.

top video embed puts a video embed above the title, but below the top image, if you have one

title is the headline of each item.

middle image puts an image below the title.

middle video embed puts a video embed above the text, but below the middle image, if you have one

text is a blurb.

bottom image put an image below the text.

bottom video embed puts a video embed below the text

background image puts an image behind the text.

Multiple wrong (or right) answers

If you want to have more than two possible answers, you can define multiple wrong or right answers in your spreadsheet. Fill them out as before, but add a number, 0-9 after right or wrong. So for instance you'd have wrong 7 or right 1 top video embed

On Defaulting

Since it is a huge hassle to have to fill in multiple cells with the same information, we fail over to more generic cells if a specific value is not filled in.

right 0-9 defaults to right, and wrong 0-9 defaults to wrong value. Both right and wrong will default to answer, and answer will default to question.

While this makes writing the quiz significantly less tedious, this does mean that you should bear the following in mind:

Do Not Mix Different Types of Image Values for a Single Question.

If you do you will find yourself in the ugly position of having multiple images all over your answer. Yuck.

How to Turn Off Defaulting

There are two ways to do it.

  1. To turn off defaulting for the entire quiz: In your project, add an options object as the second argument in your call to create the quiz. In the options argument, have the key defaulting_behavior_on set to false.
var quiz = jQuery('#quiz').quiz('public_spreadsheet_url', {defaulting_behavior_on : false});

  1. To turn off defaulting for a single cell in your spreadsheet (or JSON), or turn on defaulting for a single cell if you've turned off defaulting for the whole quiz, simply enter the value !default. In other words, !default operates like a switch that enables or disables defaulting for a single cell depending on the defaulting status of your entire quiz.

If you don't care for the term !default, you can change the flag like so:

var quiz = jQuery('#quiz').quiz('public_spreadsheet_url', {defaulting_flag : 'REPLACE !DEFAULT HERE'});

Writing your quiz in JSON

Writing your quiz in JSON is supported, though discouraged if you don't know JSON. The quiz object is formed like this:

        possible_answers: [
                answer: 'Newt Gingrich',
                backgroundimage: '',
                bottomimage: '',
                bottomvideoembed: '',
                correct: true,
                middleimage: '',
                middlevideoembed: '',
                subhed: 'Correct!',
                text : 'This is from a <a href=",+females+have+biological+problems+staying+in+a+ditch+for+thirty+days+because+they+get+infections+and+they+don%27t+have+upper+body+strength.+I+mean,+some+do,+but+they%27re+relatively+rare.+On+the+other+hand,+men+are+basically+little+piglets,+you+drop+them+in+the+ditch,+they+roll+around+in+it,+doesn%27t+matter,+you+know.+These+things+are+very+real.+On+the+other+hand,+if+combat+means+being+on+an+Aegis-class+cruiser+managing+the+computer+controls+for+twelve+ships+and+their+rockets,+a+female+may+be+again+dramatically+better+than+a+male+who+gets+very,+very+frustrated+sitting+in+a+chair+all+the+time+because+males+are+biologically+driven+to+go+out+and+hunt+giraffes.&source=bl&ots=50_wPjH9uW&sig=zBLha-mcVau4vaimBVsL6Ve93TQ&hl=en&sa=X&ei=ZiwwT7C9KcOWiQL_3I3hCg&ved=0CDsQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=If%20combat%20means%20living%20in%20a%20ditch%2C%20females%20have%20biological%20problems%20staying%20in%20a%20ditch%20for%20thirty%20days%20because%20they%20get%20infections%20and%20they%20don\'t%20have%20upper%20body%20strength.%20I%20mean%2C%20some%20do%2C%20but%20they\'re%20relatively%20rare.%20On%20the%20other%20hand%2C%20men%20are%20basically%20little%20piglets%2C%20you%20drop%20them%20in%20the%20ditch%2C%20they%20roll%20around%20in%20it%2C%20doesn\'t%20matter%2C%20you%20know.%20These%20things%20are%20very%20real.%20On%20the%20other%20hand%2C%20if%20combat%20means%20being%20on%20an%20Aegis-class%20cruiser%20managing%20the%20computer%20controls%20for%20twelve%20ships%20and%20their%20rockets%2C%20a%20female%20may%20be%20again%20dramatically%20better%20than%20a%20male%20who%20gets%20very%2C%20very%20frustrated%20sitting%20in%20a%20chair%20all%20the%20time%20because%20males%20are%20biologically%20driven%20to%20go%20out%20and%20hunt%20giraffes.&f=false">controversial lecture</a> on the military that Gingrich delivered while teaching at Reinhardt College. He also said that "females have biological problems staying in a ditch for thirty days because they get infections and they don\'t have upper body strength," when referring to women participating in combat missions.',
                title: "1. Who said it?",
                topimage: '',
                topvideoembed: '<iframe width="420" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>'
        question: {
            backgroundimage: '',
            bottomimage: '',
            bottomvideoembed: '',
            middleimage: '',
            middlevideoembed: '',
            subhed: '',
            text: '"Men are basically little piglets...Males are biologically driven to go out and hunt giraffes."',
            title: '1. Who said it?',
            topimage: '',
            topvideoembed: '<iframe width="420" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>'

You can pass that in as an argument instead of a Google Spreadsheet key, if you prefer.

Customizing the end-of-quiz message

If you don't like the default result messages, you can change them. Create a second worksheet with the special name, Results. The first column should be number of right answers and the second should be html. Then add one row per potential number of correct answers: 0, 1, ... up to the total number of questions.

If you're using JSON to set your quiz data, and you want to use custom results, then pass them as the second argument when you create your quiz. For instance:

$('#my-element').quiz(quiz_data, [ 'all wrong', 'one right', 'two right', ... ], options);

End-of-quiz message before the quiz is finished

You may want to hide the end-of-quiz message until the user has completed it. Alternatively, you may want to show a prompt, such as "keep answering questions!".

Use the option not_finished_html. That is, pass an options hash like: { not_finished_html: "" }, or { not_finished_html: "keep answering questions!" }.

The default is undefined, which means the result messages will always be displayed.


Make a quiz from data in a Google Spreadsheet. Requires jQuery and Tabletop.







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