Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.


Coding and Codes


  • The act of transforming raw data into workable order.

  • In coding, you look for patterns. You are creating manageable and relevant categories for yourself.

Codes in MAXQDA:

  • Can consist of one or more letters, and can go up until 63 characters. 
  • Can be assigned a color. This can be useful in visualizing your code system easily. For example, if all your codes that have to do with gender are yellow, you can look at a document and see this easily.
  • Can also have subcodes.

Some suggestions for coding in MAXQDA:

  • You want to code more than one word or phrase.
  • You want to code enough that you have some context to understand what is going on in a segment, so when you retrieve it/run reports that include it, you can understand what is going on without having to return to the original document. This will make your use of MAXQDA more efficient.

New Codes

To code with a new code:

  • You want to highlight the text you want to code and then click on the code with a new code tab,  .

  • The new code box will appear, where you will write in the new code name. You can also choose a color for your code, here purple, and also write an attached code memo.

  • Click OK.
  • You now have coded with a new code. Addiction is a new code in the document open in the Document Browser.

  • This code also appears in the Code System at the top.
  • The number one next to the code addiction lets you know that there is one instance of that code. 



Coding with Existing Codes

To code with an existing code:

  • You first want to highlight the text you want to code.
  • Because this code already exists in your Code System, all you need to do is to to drag the highlighted text into the Code System window and into the code you want. (You can also drag the individual code into the text you have highlighted.)
  • Once the code is dragged into the Code System, it will show up in the Document Browser.

Coding PDFs and Images

  •  You want to highlight the text that you want to code. You can draw a box around images and code them too. 
  • Then drag and drop into an existing code or create a new code.

Organizing Codes

To organize your codes, go to the Code System window on the lower left hand-side of the screen, and right click on the Code System. The below box will appear and then you can sort by frequency or name. 

Generating Subcodes

To create a subcode, you want to hover your cursor over a code and click the + button.

The new code box will appear. Write in the name of the subcode and Click OK:

Equal Rights is now a subcode of Equality and is listed under it in the Code System:

Deleting Coding

To delete one code from a document in the Document Browser, you need to:

  • Go to the one instance of the code.
  • Right click on its name and a box will pop up. One of the options in this box is Delete.

  • Once you click on Delete, a confirmation box will appear that will ask you whether you want to delete coding.
  • Once you click OK, the one instance of that code will be deleted.

If you want to delete a code from the Code System (deleting all instances of the code in all your documents):You hover your mouse over the code and an x will appear. click that X. Once you click that, a confirmation box will pop by. To delete the code, you click OK and it will be deleted from the Code System and all instances of it will be deleted from documents in the Document System.


MAXQDA operates through activation

  • You activate the codes and/or documents that you want to work with.
  • In order to use the Retrieved Segments window, you must activate at least one code and one document. 
  • Whatever you activate turns into a red arrow sign.

To activate:

  • Click on the circle next to the name of the code.

Here the first three codes in the Code System have been activated and have changed into red arrows:

  • If you want to reset your activations, you click on the Reset Activations tab,  , on the top of the Code System menu. 
  • Activating documents works the same way. You click on the gray circles and they change into red arrows. Below, the first two documents are activated. 

  • On the top row of the Document System, the Reset Activations tab,, resets the activations. 

In order to use the Retrieved Segments window:

  • You need to activate at least one code and at least one document. 
  • Once you do that, the relevant coded segments will appear in the Retrieved Segments window. 
  • Here one document and one code has been activated and you can see the results in the Retrieved Segments window. 

  • If you click on the code symbol, you will be taken to that coded text in the Document System.

  • You can always export the results of your activations in the Retrieved Segments window as a word or excel document. In word, it looks like this: 

It excel it looks like this:

You can now work with this material or share it with your team. 

Reset Activations

When you run the analysis of your codes and documents, you want to make sure that you are activating what you need to. An easy thing to do is to Reset Activations, which resets across all windows at once.

To do a reset:

  • Go to the Analysis menu.
  • Then go to Reset Activations.