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MAXqda logo Coding with MAXqda

Authors of this page: Graham R. Gibbs and Celia Taylor

Affiliation: University of Huddersfield

Date written: 30th June 2005





Symbols and Conventions


It is possible to establish codes without any reference to the text. This suits the situation where you have a good idea about what kinds of phenomena and concepts you are likely to find before analysing the data. You can then select sections of text and assign or link them to these a priori codes. On the other hand MAXqda also support developing coding directly from the text, where you select some text and then assign a new or existing code to it. One special case of this is in vivo coding where the term or phrase you select is not only coded to the new code but also becomes its name.

Coding in MAXqda is supported by the Code System pane. All codes in MAXqda are hierarchically arranged. As a temporary measure, if you don't know where in the rest of the hierarchy to put new codes, you can create a parent, placeholder code called 'New Codes' and keep them as its children as you create them. Move them elsewhere in the hierarchy later.

MAXQDA allows create, delete, merge and move codes and change the text to which they refer. At any time you can browse or display the coded text and change the coding or view it in context. Codes can also be searched and in this way, along with an inspection of linked data, like memos, the researcher can ask questions of the data and build and test theories.

Create a new code

Use this approach where you want to create codes without referring to the text, perhaps because you are guided by some existing theory as to what you expect to find. As you create codes (by whatever approach) don't forget to keep a record, either as a comment or in a memo, of what the code represents and what your thinking about it is.

To create a new code

  1. In the Code System window, right click the name of a code you want to be the new code's parent,
  2. click New Code.
  3. Type in a name.
  4. click OK.

Create new codes from the transcripts, including in vivo codes

This is the common, inductive approach. You read the text, get an idea for a code and create a new code and code the text immediately.

To code in vivo

  1. Select just a word or short phrase in the Text Browser.
  2. click the In-Vivo-Coding button (MAXqda In-Vivo-Coding button) in the toolbar.

Just the word or phrase you selected is coded and this becomes the name of the new code.

Otherwise you must create a code first.

To create a new code as you code the text.

  1. Select the text you want to code in the Text Browser.
  2. Create a new code for it - as above
  3. Drag the selected text onto this new code name in the Code System window.

To examine existing codes

Once you have created some codes and/or done some coding, use this approach to explore what codes you have created.

Codes are listed in the Code System pane. See Figure 1. click the minus signs or the plus signs to open and close the hierarchy.

MAXqda Code System pane

Figure 1 MAXqda Code System pane.

Using existing codes for coding

This is the most common situation, where you have developed most codes and are simply working through the documents coding their contents.

To code with existing codes.


  1. Select the text you want to code in the Text Browser.
  2. Drag the selected text from the Code System window onto the code name.


  1. If the code name you want is already highlighted in the toolbar (or you can choose it from the pull-down list),
  2. click the 'Coding with Quicklist' button (MAXqda Coding with Quicklist button) in the toolbar.