Applies to

  • Pro
  • Business
  • Enterprise

Use a URL query string to prefill default values on a form

Customize form links with query strings to provide different default values for each recipient.


  • Smartsheet
  • Pro
  • Business
  • Enterprise

When someone accesses a form with a custom link, information from the URL prepopulates fields in the form.


Imagine a sales manager wants their team to log all client phone calls in a central, easily accessible sheet, and wants each call to include the name of the sales rep logging the call. The manager creates one base form, then gives each person on the team a different URL with a query string that prefills their name. Each team member can easily log information without having to enter the same basic details every time, and they can see all the information in one place.

Prefilled strings do not work when you require users to log in to use the form. Authentication clears any customization from the URL.

Sales calls form example

If your team needs to submit the same data again, they can use the browser's back button to reload the form with the last submitted values, including prefilled values. Then, they can overwrite anything they need to change and resubmit the form.

Consider adding this tip in a description field on your form for your team to learn this shortcut.

Add a query string to a form URL

The links included in the following steps are just examples for you to see, and they don’t actually work.

To build the query string for a form URL:

  1. In the menu bar, select Forms > Manage Forms.
  2. Hover over the form you want to distribute with custom URLs.
  3. Select Copy Form URL Copy Form URL icon .
  4. In a spreadsheet or any word processing application, paste the URL.
  5. At the end of the URL, type a question mark (?)

    For example:

      Use a question mark to add the first query string to a URL.
  6. Type the value for the form field that you'd like to populate.

    For example, you want to populate the Rep field with the name of one of your sales reps: 

    • Form fields are case sensitive.
  7. Type an equal sign (=):

    For example: 
  8. Type the value you want to set as the default.

    For example, you want to set the rep's name to Sally Smart:

    URLs can’t contain spaces. To include a space, use %20. For other characters, refer to the special characters list at the bottom of this page.
  9. If you’ve enabled the Allow submitter to email a copy of form submission option in your form settings, you can use query strings to automatically select this option on your form and enter a default email address. Use ECA to pass information into this field. 

    For example:
  10. To include multiple fields in the URL, join them with an ampersand (&). 


    For example, use: Rep=Sally%20Smart&


    Keep in mind the values are editable but not private. You can hide fields from appearing in the form, but the values will still appear in the URL, and anyone with the link can see the URL and the data of the prepopulated values.

    Include special characters in the query string

    You can see a full list of special characters (referred to as escape characters) here.

    To include a space or other special character in your URL, you'll need to use URL percent encoding. 

    The following table includes a few common special characters you can use and their percent encoding values.

    To populate this Type this in the URL
    Character space %20
    Equal sign (=)  %3D
    Percent symbol (%)  %25
    Number symbol (#)  %23
    US dollar symbol ($)  %24
    Ampersand (&) %26
    Grave accent (`)  %60
    Colon (:)  %3A
    Left angle bracket (<)  %3C
    Right angle bracket (>)  %3E
    Left bracket ([)  %5B
    Right bracket (])  %5D
    Left brace ({)  %7B
    Right brace (})  %7D
    Quotation marks (“ ”)  %22
    Plus sign (+)  %2B
    At sign (@)  %40
    Slash (/)  %2F
    Semicolon (;)  %3B
    Question mark (?)  %3F
    Backslash (\)  %5C
    Caret, circumflex (^)  %5E
    Pipe, vertical bar (|)  %7C
    Tilde (~)  %7E
    Apostrophe (')  %27
    Comma (,)  %2C

    Advanced scenarios

    There are lots of different ways to use query strings. The following list provides a series of ideas for which you can use query strings. 

    • Dashboards: Create a dashboard with different links to the same form. Each link has query strings that use fields that control conditional logic in the form to create quick links for different types of requests that are all processed centrally. 
    • Formulas: Use formulas to automatically create a prefilled form and generate follow-up items, like an automated alert to send the URL to the original requestor.
    • QR codes: Create different QR codes that use the same base form but have different URL query strings, and print those QR codes on stickers on different pieces of equipment. Have people scan the QR code and enter their details to create an easy equipment usage log.
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