About codes

Codes are central to understanding and working with NVivo—they let you gather related material in one place so that you can look for emerging patterns and ideas.

You gather the references by 'coding' your files. For example, you could select content in an interview transcript, video and dataset and code it at Economy.

When you open the code Economy, you can see all the references in one place.

Coding content from multiple sources at the node Economy. 

Types of codes

  • Nodes—themes or topics that you find in your files. These nodes might be descriptive (this text is about that topic) or more analytical (this issue matters because...). Create theme nodes manually
  • Relationships—the connection between two project items. For example, you could create a relationship node to record the relationship between two theme nodes to show evidence of causality, or between two case nodes to indicate that two people are married to each other. Relationships
  • Node matrices—a collection of nodes showing how the contents of different nodes relate to each other. This cross-tabulation of nodes results from a Matrix Coding query. You can run this query when you have enough nodes (and content coded at them) to make meaningful comparisons. Node matrices
  • SentimentPositive and Negative nodes are created by NVivo when you auto code sentiment. Automatically detect and code sentiment


  • The terms 'code' and 'node' are often used interchangeably.
  • If you want to gather references about a particular 'unit of analysis', such as a person, place, site or organization, you may want to use cases instead of nodes. You can assign demographic attributes to the cases in your project and use them as the basis for comparison. Cases