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Basic Terms

In the following section, some important and frequently used terms will be explained:


Here, “text” refers to text, PDF or table documents in the MAXQDA Document System.

Please note: MAXDictio only analyzes the text itself, therefore it is irrelevant which font is being used, or if words appear in bold or italic.

Text section/text unit

Similar to a book, texts can be subdivided into chapters and subchapters. Chapters may not overlap, just as chapters 3 and 4 may not overlap in a book. During import, a text can already be subdivided into sections (text units) with the text pre-processor. But it is also possible to make the text units in MAXQDA simply by coding text passages. The MAXDictio function “Frequencies for dictionary categories” can analyze text passages separately. Each text unit will appear individually in a line of the table of results.


For MAXDictio, a word is any string of characters which are situated between two blanks or cut-off punctuation characters (such as , ; . :).

Word combinations

A word combination is understood by MAXDictio as a string of words which follow one another directly.

Word stem

With a modification of the general terminology, in MAXDictio a word stem is to be understood as any part of a word. This means it is not only the left part or the stem form of the word; the “word stem” can also be situated in the middle of the word (so “go” would be a word stem of “going,” “bingo,” and “undergoes”).

Stop list

Stop lists contain collections of words that are supposed to be ignored in the word frequency analysis. Generally, these are indefinite and definite articles, numerals, and so on.

Go list

A go list functions pretty much conversely to a stop list. It contains words to which the frequency analysis should be confined, i.e. only words that are on the list will be considered in the analysis.


An index is a list of words that includes their references, i.e. the passages where they can be found in the text(s).


A dictionary is composed of categories and words or character strings which are assigned to the categories. For instance, the words “Italy,” “Great Britain,” “Germany,” “Belgium,” “Netherlands,” and “Spain” could be assigned to the category “Europe.”

In principle, dictionaries are not project-dependent. They can be used again for other projects. For qualitative content analysis, the dictionary presents a classification scheme on the basis of which the frequency of the categories is determined.

Search item

A search item is a string of characters, one or more words, which are attached to a category in a dictionary.

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