Coding Data

Video Tutorial: Coding Data

“Coding means that we attach labels to 'segments of data' that depict what each segment is about. Through coding, we raise analytic questions about our data from […]. Coding distills data, sorts them, and gives us an analytic handle for making comparisons with other segments of data” (Charmaz, 2014:4).

“Coding is the strategy that moves data from diffuse and messy text to organized ideas about what is going on” (Richards and Morse, 2013:167).

"Coding is a core function in ATLAS.ti that lets you “tell” the software where the interesting things are in your data. ... the main goal of categorizing your data is to tag things to define or organize them. In the process of categorization, we compare data segments and look for similarities. All similar elements can be grouped under the same name. By naming something, we conceptualize and frame it at the same time" (Friese, 2019).

Creating New Codes without Coding

You can create codes that have not (yet) been used for coding. Such codes are called "free" codes. This can for example be useful when ideas for codes come to mind during normal coding work and that cannot be applied to the current segment but will be useful later. Sometimes you also need free codes for expression conceptual connections in networks. If you already have a list of codes, possibly including code descriptions and groupings elsewhere, you can use the option: Importing A List Of Codes.

Click on the Code button in the toolbar and select New Code(s) from the drop-down menu. The short-cut key combination is Cmd+K.

Create Free Code

You can also create new codes in the Code Manager by clicking on the + button.

Coding with a New Code

Open a document and highlight a data segment, i.e., a piece of text, audio or video data, a rectangular area in a graphic document, or a location in a geo document.

Right-click and select Apply Codes, or use the short-cut Cmd+J, or click on the 'Apply Codes' button in the toolbar.

Creating and applying new code

Enter a name and click on the plus button or press enter.

Coding Dialogue

You can continue to add more codes, or simply continue to select another data segment. The dialogue closes automatically.

for more information on working with data other than text, see Working With Multimedia Data and Working With Geo Docs.

Display of Coded Data Segments in the Margin Area

The coded segment is displayed in the margin area. A blue bar marks the size of the coded segment (= quotation), and the code name appears next to it. When coding data in this way, a new quotation is created automatically, and the code is linked to this quotation.

Coded segment

Display of Codes in the Project Explorer and Code Browser

In the Project Explorer under the main Codes branch, all codes are listed. If you only want to see the list of codes, click on the code icon in the toolbar.

The number behind a code, e.g., (23) means that the code has been applied 23 times.

Display of codes

If codes are linked to other codes, you can expand the code subtree further. This is not a hierarchical display of codes. Linkages you create between codes are usually of a conceptual nature and can be directed and non-directed links. For more information see: About Links and Nodes.

The following video tutorial shows more about the meaning and purpose of linking codes in ATLAS.ti: Did you ever wonder what's behind the ATLAS.ti network function.

Display of Codes on the Code Manager

There are three View Modes: You can view codes in list view (default), as cloud or in form of a bar chart:

Code Manager view options

Code List as Bar Chart

Select the Bar Chart to visualize your code list in form of a bar chart.

Code Manager Bar Chart View

The codes in the bar chart view also have a context menu. Thus, also from here, you can start the same actions as in the standard view.

Code Manager Bar Chart context menu

Code Cloud

Select the Cloud option to visualize your code list in form of a word cloud:

Code Manager Cloud View

If you right-click on a code, the same context menu opens as in 'List' view. Thus, in the cloud view you can start the same actions as in the regular view. You can for instance rename codes, set a color, split codes, or open a network on one or multiple codes.

Applying Existing Codes

Existing codes can be applied using the Coding Dialogue or via Drag & Drop.

Using the Coding Dialogue

Highlight a data segment, right-click and select Apply Codes.

Applying an existing code

Select one of the existing codes, click on the plus button or press Enter. If you type the first few letters in the entry field, only those codes are presented that match the letter combination.

Code density is not a value that is calculated by the software. It goes up, when the researcher begins to link codes to each other. See Working With Networks.

Drag-and-Drop Coding

Drag-and-Drop Coding is possible from the following locations:

  • the Codes branch from the Project Explorer
  • the Code Browser in the navigation panel.
  • the Code Manager

Coding per drag and drop

Below you find More Drag-and-Drop options.

To use drag-and-drop coding highlight a data segment, select one or more codes in the above mentioned lists or windows and drag the code onto the highlighted data segment.

Code Browser in the navigation panel: To open the Code Browser, click on the Codes icon. The search field in the Code Browser facilitates handling a longer code list. Rather than scrolling the list, you enter the first letters of a code.

Code Manager: When using the Code Manager, it is recommended to place it next to the text you are coding. If you click on the pin on the top right-hand side of the window, the Code Manager stays on top.

You can quickly access codes using code groups to filter the list, or using the search field.

Coding via the Code Manager

Add Last Used Codes

Applying the last used code(s) to the current data segment is an efficient method for the consecutive coding of segments.

Highlight a data segment or click on an existing quotation.

Add Last Used Code

Right click and select Add Last Used Codes from the context menu.

Code In Vivo

Use in-vivo coding when the text itself contains a useful and meaningful name for a code.

In-vivo coding creates a quotation from the selected text AND uses the selected text as the code name. If the selected text's boundaries are not exactly what you want for the quotation, modifying the quotation's "spread" is often the next step after creating the in-vivo code. See Working with Codes > Modifying the length of a coded segment.

Select a segment in a text document, right-click and select Code in Vivo.

Code in Vivo

In-Vivo coding can only be applied to textual primary documents.

More Drag-And-Drop Options

  • You can drag-and-drop quotations in the Quotation Manager to a code in the side-panel in the Quotation Manager.

  • You can drag-and-drop quotations from the Quotation Manager to a code in Code Manager.

  • You can drag-and-drop one or more codes to a quotation in the Quotation Manager.

  • You can drag-and-drop one or more codes to a quotation in the Quotation Browser in the Navigation Panel.

  • You can drag-and-drop quotations from the Quotation Browser to a code in Code Manager.

  • You can drag-and-drop quotations from the Quotation Browser in the Navigation panel to a code in side panel of the Quotation Manager.

Keyboard Shortcuts For Coding

Create Free CodeCmd+K
Apply CodesCmd+J
Apply Last Used CodesCmd+L
Code In VivoShift+Cmd+V