Learn NVivo in a minute

Lyn Lavery We know how busy researchers are, so we’ve designed a special video series to help you learn some of the basics of NVivo – in a minute! Each video in our new ‘NVivo in a Minute’ series covers a specific function in 60 seconds or less – learn how to create a project, import a transcript or export a codebook, just to name a few.

Our YouTube channel has playlists set up for NVivo 12 for Mac and NVivo 12 for Windows, as well as the new NVivo (both Windows and Mac). We'll be adding additional videos in the coming months, so make sure you subscribe to our channel to keep up-to-date. If you have a request for a specific video, contact us to let us know (just keep in mind it has to be something we can cover in a minute!). Some of our favourite features in NVivo are already on our YouTube channel, read on to find out why they’re our favourites!

Of course there’s only so much you can learn in a minute, so if you would like more detailed instruction in NVivo, don’t forget that we offer a range of online and face-to-face training courses.


Memos are a great place to store your own thoughts, thinking and reflections. They’re incredibly helpful in a qualitative project to help you remember all the decisions you’ve made along the way! For example, you might like to create a ‘Research Journal’ memo, where you record all the actions and decisions you’ve made – this then acts as an audit trail of your analysis, which can be really useful when you’re at the writing up stage of your research. This is just an example of how memos can be used – consider using memos to write reflections on your coding, thoughts on reflexivity, reflections on an interview you’ve conducted or anything else you’d like! Watch the video to see how to create a memo.

Drag and drop coding

We love that there are lots of different methods to code in NVivo, but our absolute favourite coding technique is drag and drop. This technique can be used to code either at existing codes in your project or to create a new code. Simply select the text and drag and drop it onto the code (watch the video to see how) – the hard part is deciding which code the text relates to! Note that if you're using the new NVivo, there are several different ways to perform drag and drop coding.

The codebook

A codebook is a list of all codes for your project, along with a description for each code (it’s sometimes referred to as a coding framework or analysis framework). Codebooks are extremely useful when you’re engaged in the coding process, they help ensure you’re coding consistently and act as a memory aid when you forget what a particular code relates to (they’re especially helpful if you’re working in a qualitative team). If you’ve taken the time to enter descriptions for each code, it’s a super simple process to export your codebook. Not sure how to enter descriptions or export a codebook? Watch the video to see how!

Word clouds

Some researchers see NVivo’s word clouds as being a tad gimmicky, but we think they’re an incredibly useful part of the analysis process. We like to use them as a data familiarisation technique at the start of a project – they’re a quick way to get up to speed with some of the key ideas in the data. Word clouds are also really helpful once you’ve finished your coding, as a quick check to see if anything has been missed. They’re also great for PowerPoint presentations of course, but we don’t recommend including them in a more formal piece of academic writing! Watch the video to see how to quickly create a word cloud.