Download This Chapter


The Crosstab function has some similarities to the Code Matrix Browser, except that documents are analyzed grouped by document variable. Social groups, such as men and women, or people with different personal background, etc. can be compared based on variable values. All of the variables that are in your project can be used to set up a group.

Crosstab is a visualization of the relationship between document variables and codes. The following example displays the number of times each code occurred in interviews in rural and interviews in urban areas.

Crosstab example based on regions

Creating a Crosstab

1. Choosing your codes

As usual in MAXQDA, the selection of codes is done via activation. The selection should be completed before using the Crosstabs function, otherwise all codes will be displayed in the Crosstab.

Tip: You can open the crosstab function by right-clicking on a code from the context menu. In this case, only that specific code is shown in the cross table.

2. Define columns

The definition of the columns is done by defining appropriate variable conditions (formulas) in the dialog window, which is similar to the Activate Documents by Variables dialog window.

To do this, open the Crosstab function in the Mixed Methods tab.

After activating codes and selecting Crosstab, you will have the option to create logical conditions that will be used to assign documents to each column. The window is broken up into the following sections:

  • A list of all the document variables in the project.
  • A section for the definition of logical conditions.
  • Buttons for selecting operators and values.
  • Buttons for opening and saving logical conditions.
The Crosstab dialog window

All logical conditions in the middle column “Columns” must have the following components:

variable name / operator / value

If you have created a variable called “Region” and used the value “urban” for urban regions and “rural” for rual regions, we would use the following formula in order to create a crosstab that compares the code frequencies for the two types of regions:

>[Region] = urban
[Region] = rural

Tip: If you want to create columns by all values of a variable, follow these steps:

Select the option Insert all variable values as conditions.

Double-click the desired variable in the left pane of the window.

MAXQDA then lists the formulas for all variable values in the middle pane of the window. If you double-click on the variable Region, MAXQDA will automatically insert two rows, one with “urban” and one with “rural”, as in the example above.

The Crosstabs created in this way would look as follows:

Crosstabs comparing the number of coded segments for each code by region

You can also save formulas, so that you can have quick access to them at a later time and don’t have to reenter them one by one. Just click on the Save button at the bottom of the dialog window. You can then give it a name and choose where you want to save it.

Files for saved formulas are saved by MAXQDA as .LOA files. To open a saved set of formulas, choose Open and navigate to the place you saved the .LOA file.

Functions in the toolbar

The Crosstab toolbar at the top of the window offers the following in addition to the usual export functions:

Interactive Quote Matrix – Displays the coded segments from the table in an interactive window.

Display codes with hierarchy – If the option is activated, the codes are displayed in the tree structure of the code system. Even if the “Only activated codes” option is selected, non-activated upper codes are also included to preserve the tree structure (for these, however, all frequencies will be set to 0, even if coded segments exist; that is, no symbols or numbers will be displayed on the nodes for these rows). If the option is deactivated, all codes are displayed on one level. If the “Only activated codes” option is activated, then only the activated codes are displayed.

Number of segments – Displays absolute frequencies, meaning the number of segments of the selected codes in the documents of the respective column.

Row percentage – The percentage share of the cell calculated across the row (horizontal percentage calculation).

Column percentage based on the sum of coded segments (row “SUM”) – The percentage share of the cell calculated across the column (vertical percentage calculation).

Column percentages based on the number of documents “N (documents)” – The column percentage in terms of the number of documents in the column (the option Count hits per document only once will be selected automatically).

Count hits per document only once – The unit of analysis is set to Document. Each document is analyzed based only on whether the code has been assigned or not; the frequency with which a code occurs within a document is not taken into account.

Sum – displays the sum of rows and columns.

Highlight highest values – For better interpretation of the results higher values are highlighted in green (depending on the evaluation function, the color intensity refers to all cells, each row, or each column).

Refresh – Reopens the dialog window to recreate the table with different settings.

Interactive connection to source data

The cells in the crosstab are interactively linked to the data in your project:

  • Double-click on a cell to list its segments in the "Retrieved Segments" window. This action automatically activates both the documents and codes connected with the cell.
  • Right-click on a cell and choose Activate Documents from the context menu. This activates the connected documents without changing your current code activation selection.

Crosstab suitability

Crosstabs are well suited for the analysis of sub-categories and their distribution in sub-groups of the sample. Imagine you have asked how students prepare for examinations, and the different options (e.g. reading books, working together with colleagues, etc.) are defined as codes. With the Crosstab function, you can compare various groups with each other. Are female students participating more in training groups? Do male students read more text? The options to view the values as row or column percentages make the interpretation of the data even easier.

Was this article helpful?