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 code

  • Codes—themes in your data, memos and other codes. Codes can be descriptive (this text is about that topic) or analytical (this issue matters because..). Create codes manually
  • Sentiment—codes for content that expresses attitude, on a scale of very positive, moderately positive, moderately negative and very negative. You can code manually or automatically. Automatically detect and code sentiment. (Sentiment coding is only available in NVivo installations with coding enhancements.)
  • Relationships—for identifying relationships between different elements in your projects. For example, you could create a relationship code to record the relationship between two codes to show evidence of causality, or between two cases to indicate that two people are married to each other. Relationships


  • Previous versions of NVivo used 'node' for 'code'.
  • If you want to gather references about a particular 'unit of analysis', such as a person, place or organization, use cases instead of codes. You can assign demographic attributes—in classifications—to the cases and use them as the basis for comparison. Cases