Coding brings together in one place all the references to specific themes, emotions, relationships or people, from your data.

 Content coded at the node Economy from an interview transcript, video focus group and survey dataset.

Coding file content

Most coding is for selected content in data files (including externals), and you can also code content in memos, codes and cases. There are multiple ways to code content selections in NVivo including automatic options. For manual coding methods, see Manual coding techniques and Create codes manually.

Coding whole files

You can code entire files to new or existing codes or cases. For example, if a file has interview responses from a single person you can code it to a case you create for that person. This can be done automatically when the file is imported, too. See Code whole files.

Coding from queries

You can use queries to automatically code files based on words or phrases they contain. This can be a useful starting point for reviewing data.

  • Run a word frequency query to see the words that occur most often. Right-click on any of the words returned to create it as a code.
  • Run a text search for a specific word or phrase and you can save the resulting references, including some surrounding words for context, as a code or case.


NVivo offers a range of autocoding options. These can be based on speakers' names, heading styles, paragraphs, previous coding, or NVivo can use machine learning to automatically detect themes or sentiment. See Autocode datasets, Create cases automatically and Create codes automatically.

NOTE  Not all autocoding methods are available to Mac users or Windows users on enterprise accounts.

Coding consistency in teams

If multiple researchers are coding the same material, you may be interested in the consistency of their coding (remembering that inconsistency is not necessarily negative—it can prompt productive debate).

One way to compare coding is to display coding stripes for users. For a convenient overview of the codes in a project, create a codebook to list all the codes and their descriptions. Alternatively, use the coding comparison query to check 'inter-rater reliability' using the Kappa coefficient.

'Coding on'

You can further code content from codes or cases when they are open in the Detail View—this is called 'coding on'. The new code references you create within the codes are shown in the original data files when they are opened.