Getting started – Organize

Once your data is in NVivo there are many options as to how to proceed. We categorize these broadly as 'organize'—coding, creating cases and writing notes—and 'explore'—running queries and creating visualizations to get preliminary insights into your data.

It's up to you what you want to do first, but it's highly likely you'll need to code and make notes at some point—covered in this tutorial. And while not all projects require that you create cases (the units of analysis in NVivo), they open the door to powerful analysis—especially when matched with demographic-style metadata in case classifications.


With your data in NVivo, you can begin coding.

Help links

Coding, Manual coding techniques


Essential to any research project is note keeping—for observations, ideas, reminders to yourself (and others), and keeping a journal so you have a record of how the project, and your thoughts, have developed. NVivo offers a range of ways to keep notes. Foremost amongst them are memos.

Help links


Annotations and see-also links

Annotations are another way to keep notes, but linked to specific content selections within data files. See-also links also link from content selections but point to other files or content selections in other files.

Help links

Annotations, Links


One of NVivo’s most powerful features is its ability to represent the people, institutions and places involved your inquiry. In NVivo, these are called ‘cases’.

Help links

Cases, Create cases manually, Create cases automatically

Case classifications

Cases don’t just serve to bring together all the content for the subjects of your inquiry.

By recording demographic or other data for the cases you create—e.g. age, gender or population—you set yourself up to be able to make a whole range of analyses. Is there a difference between how younger and older people feel about an issue? Is education a factor? Are there relationships between population size and the factors you’re investigating?

Case classifications, as they’re called in NVivo, give you access to this type of analysis.

Help links

Classifications, Create case classifications, Classify cases (set attribute values to record information)


See how to explore your data: Getting started – Explore