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Import and Group your Data

Importing data via the ”Import” menu tab 

The Import tab provides numerous functions for importing different data types. When you create a new project, the tab is automatically opened so that you can start importing data directly:

Importing data via the ”Import” tab

How to import standard data such as texts, PDF documents, tables, images, or audio / video files:

  1. Go to the Import tab and click on the appropriate icon for your data type, e.g. Transcripts to import interview transcripts and Texts, PDFs, Tables to import Word files, PDF documents or Excel files.
  2. A dialog window will appear, in which you can select the files to be imported. Press Ctrl (Windows) or ⌘ key (macOS) to select multiple files at the same time.

After making your selection, the files are inserted into the open MAXQDA project and displayed in the ”Document System” window. The following image shows that several texts (”Arne”, ”Amadi”, ”Chris”, etc.) have been added.

Display of documents in your ”Document System” window after import

By default, all inserted texts, PDF documents, tables and images are saved in the project file. This means that you can modify or delete the source file with no effect on the file in the project. Conversely, you can make changes to a file in MAXQDA, e.g. improving typing errors, without changing the source file. Exceptions are audio and video files, they are not stored in the project because of their size but in a special folder for external files. The same applies to PDF documents and images that exceed an adjustable file size. For more information, see "External Files".

When inserted, MAXQDA takes the filename as a document name, it can be modified later, avoiding duplication. Depending on the type of document, the documents are given different symbols.

Please note: Using the other icons on the tab, special data types, such as focus group transcripts, survey data, or data from Twitter can be imported. The specifics of these imports are described in detail in their own sections.

Ordering the documents in document groups 

Once you’ve imported your documents, you’re ready to start your analysis. Most people don’t start with the analysis immediately, though, and prefer to organize the documents in folders, as they might do on their computer’s hard drive. In MAXQDA, these folders are called ”document groups”. They work just like folders do on your computer – you can name them and drag documents into them.

Display of documents in your ”Document System” after import

There are two ways to create a new document group:

  • Click the New Document Group icon in the ”Document System” toolbar.
  • Right-click on the root folder in the ”Document System” and select New Document Group from the context menu.

MAXQDA then creates a new document group at the current position and automatically assigns a name and number. To give the document group a meaningful name, click on it with the right mouse button and select Rename. Alternatively, click the name once with the mouse button to select the line, and then click the name again.

Suitable names for document groups are, for example, the data types (individual interviews, group discussions, document analyses, etc.) or differentiation criteria resulting from the sampling (first survey wave, second survey wave, ecclesiastical organizations, public-law organizations, etc.).

Please note: You can create document groups on up to two levels. This means that each document group at the top level can contain subgroups. These subgroups cannot contain any further subgroups.

You can change the order of the document groups at any time using drag-and-drop.

Please note: You will often be working with documents or document groups whose names consist of numbers or whose names contain numbers, e.g. Interview 1, Interview 2, Interview 3. In the case of more than ten documents or document groups, it is recommended to use double-digit numbers for their description, so that the documents are sorted according to the order of numbers, e.g. Interview01, Interview02, ..., Interview48. In the case of more than 100 documents or document groups, corresponding three-digit designations should be used, e.g. Interview001, Interview002 etc.

Moving and sorting documents

Moving individual documents

You can arrange the order of the documents in the ”Document System”. Just click and drag the document to the desired position.

Moving multiple documents

You can select multiple separate documents by holding down the Alt key (Windows) or ⌥ key (macOS) and then move this selection while holding down the mouse button. To select a range of documents, first click on one document and then click on a second document while holding down the Shift key ⇧. This then selects all the documents between these clicked documents.

Moving multiple documents by activating them

To move multiple documents at once, first activate these documents by, for example, clicking on their document symbol before their docuemnt name (the names will then turn their color to red). Now click on a document group with the right mouse button and select Move Activated Documents Here.

Move all activated documents to a document group at once

Sorting documents

To sort the documents in a document group, choose Sort Documents from the context menu of the document group and then the required sorting order in the drop-down menu. Sort criteria include Document Name, Last Action, and Text Length (only text, table, and PDF documents are taken into account).

To sort document groups by their names, right-click on the root folder of the ”Document System” window, and choose Sort in Ascending Order to sort them from A - Z or Sort in Descending Order for the reverse order.

More import options

You can import documents not only from Import tab but also using several other ways:

  • Click the Import Documents icon on the toolbar of the ”Document System”.
  • Or use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+D (Windows) or ⌘+D (macOS).
  • Or click on the root folder in the ”Document System” with the right mouse button and select Import Documents.
  • Or right-click the document group to which the document is to be assigned. From the context menu, choose Import Documents.
  • Or you can copy and paste your documents and even document folders to your MAXQDA project file using the keyboard shortcuts Ctrl+C + Ctrl+V (Windows) or ⌘+C + ⌘+C (macOS).
Import documents via the context menu in the document group

As described above, a dialog window opens in which you can select which file to import.

Please note: The imported documents are imported into the selected document group, i.e. marked in blue. If no document group or root folder is selected in the ”Document System”, MAXQDA inserts the new documents at the top of the document "tree".

Importing documents via drag and drop

Files can be imported via drag and drop: Select one or several documents in the Windows Explorer or Mac Finder and simply drag the documents into the ”Document System” with the mouse. Then drop the documents in the desired position.

Tip: To import the documents of a whole folder into MAXQDA, drag the folder from the Windows Explorer or Mac Finder to the ”Document System”. MAXQDA then creates a new document group with the same name of the file folder at the top of the document “tree” and imports all documents that MAXQDA can import. If the folder contains subfolders, these are also created as separate document groups.

Document sets

MAXQDA makes it possible for you to create and save a temporary grouping of documents. While each document can only be in one document group, it can be in as many document sets as you wish, because document sets are only made up of shortcuts to the documents. In other words, a document set can be deleted without it having any effect on the document. If that same document were deleted from a document group, however, it would be deleted from the project along with all of its memos, coded segments, links, etc.

Document sets are very convenient in case you want to analyze a certain selection of documents. Forming a document set is also an easy way to save the result of a complex variable activation process.

Document sets may be used like document groups; you can activate all the documents in a document set at the same time and request all the overview table options for working with document groups (codes, memos, variables, links, etc.).

How to create a document set

  1. Left-click on the symbols of all documents to be included in the set (the activated documents are displayed in red). You can actiavte all documents in a document group at once by clicking on the folder icon.
  2. Right-click on the word Sets at the bottom of the “Document System” window.
  3. Select New Set form Activated Documents.

MAXQDA then creates a new set with the name “Set 1” and adds all activated documents to this set. You can click on the name with the right mouse button and choose another that is more appropriate. Document sets may be used like document groups; you can activate all the documents in a document set at the same time and use all the options for working with document groups (Codes, Memos, Variables, Links, etc.).

Modifying document sets at a later stage

Individual documents can be deleted from a document set: Right-click on a document in a set and select Remove Document from Set. Or drag and drop documents to move them from one set to another.

Tip: You can drag documents into a set at any time with the mouse. Drop the documents into the desired set and MAXQDA will insert them directly at the top of the set.

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