Frequency Tables and Charts for Subcodes

With MAXQDA you can create frequency tables and charts for subcode frequencies. You can open this function in the ribbon menu via Codes > Subcode Statistics.

The following dialog box appears: on the left side, all existing top-level codes that have subcodes are listed; on the right side your selected codes appear. In the middle, arrow buttons allow you to transfer codes from one window to the other. You can also do this by double clicking on a code. Click on the column header of either list in order to alphabetize content.

Please note: To select multiple variables at once, hold down the ⇧ Shift key, or Ctrl key (Windows) or key (macOS)
Statistics for subcodes: choose codes

For codes containing subcodes, this function can also be called up directly from the “Code System” window. Right-click on the code and select Subcode Statistics. This allows you to access the statistics functions for codes that are not at the top level of the code system.

The analysis can be restricted to currently activated documents and subcodes. To do so, check the appropriate boxes.

The option Aggregate subcodes is selected by default. If the option is selected, the chosen level subcodes of the subcodes will be included in the analysis. They will be aggregated with the top-level code, and only this code will be displayed in the results table. If the option is deselected, only the direct subcodes of the selected code will be included in the analysis.

Selecting units of analysis for statistical evaluations

At the bottom of the screen, you will find options for the unit of analysis. The following options are available:

Documents (count all subcodes) – This option corresponds, in principle, to an evaluation of multiple responses. In this case, the analysis is performed assuming that when several subcodes can be coded in a document, the subcodes are not mutually exclusive. MAXQDA analyzes the number of documents to which a subcode has been assigned. All subcodes that occur in a given document will be counted, on a per-document basis. This type of analysis would typically be employed to answer the question “What percentage of cases (= documents) mention the theme (= code) XY ?”.

Documents (count most frequent subcode only) – In this case, the analysis is performed under the assumption that subcodes are mutually exclusive, meaning that subcodes can be interpreted as categorical variables. On a per-document basis, only the subcode that occurs most frequently is taken into account. If two or more subcodes occur with the same frequency within a document, a new “not defined” category will appear.

Coded segments – This option analyzes the number of coded segments per subcode.

Once you click OK, MAXQDA begins the statistical calculation, after which the results will be displayed as frequency tables and diagrams.

The window shows the table view of the first selected variables:

Frequency Table

The first column of the table lists the different subcodes of the table; the second column, the absolute frequency; the third column, the corresponding percentages. The fourth column shows the percentages based on valid values, meaning documents without analyzed codes are not taken into account. If there are no missing values, then the percentages will be identical in the third and fourth columns.

Tip: Click on the column headers of the first two columns in order to define row order. For example, you can sort in descending or ascending order of category frequency.

Table values

The meaning of the table values depends on which unit of analysis has been selected:

Unit of Analysis: Documents (count all subcodes) – The table will show the number of documents in which the respective subcode was assigned. For each document, all subcodes that occur in the document will be counted. At the end of the table, the number of documents is displayed in which none of the analysed subcodes occur.

Unit of Analysis: Documents (count most frequent subcode only) – The table will show the number of documents in which the respective subcode was assigned. Subcodes are mutually exclusive. For each document, only the most frequently occurring subcode will be counted. At the end of the table, the number of documents is displayed in which none of the analyzed subcodes occur.

Unit of Analysis: Coded Segments – The table will show how often a subcode was assigned, meaning how many coded segments exist for this code.

Unit of Analysis: Coded Segments

If you instead select the unit of analysis “Documents (count most frequent subcode only)” a new column “Percentage (valid)” is displayed. As you can see below 5 of the analyzed documents don’t have any of the subcodes in question assigned to them. The last column calculates the percentages based only on the 30 documents with any of the selected subcodes. The first line tell us, that in two documents the subcode “Current work-life balance” is the most frequently assigned subcode. For another two document the subcode “Siblings” is the most frequent subcode and in one document “Parents” is the most frequently assigned subcode.

Unit of Analysis: Document (count most frequent subcode only)
If you select the option “Document (count all subocdes)”, MAXQDA counts for each subcode, in how many of the documents it occurs. Once again you can see that only 30 of the documents have any of the subcodes assigned to them. The subcode “Current work-life balance” occurs in 30 documents, the subcode “Dissatisfaction” occurs in 10 documents, and so on. The percentage columns show how large the percentage of documents with the subcode in question is.
Unit of Analysis: Document (count all subcodes)
The following table explains the structure of the last table schematically:
Subocde “A”Number of documents in which Code “A” occurs.
Subcode “B”Number of documents in which Code “B” occurs.
Subcode “C”Number of documents in which Code “C” occurs.
DOCUMENTS with code(s)Number of documents in which at AT LEAST ONE of the analyzed subcodes occurs.
DOCUMENTS without code(s)Number of documents in which NONE of the analyzed subcodes occurs.  
ANALYZED DOCUMENTSNumber of documents total.

Toolbar functions

You will see a toolbar at the top of the results window. Here you can:

  • call up charts by clicking the  icon
  • flip forward  or back  between main codes
  • print results, or
  • export results as an Excel file or as a Website in HTML format.


Once you have switched to the Chart view by clicking on the  icon, a bar chart of the subcodes appear in the place of the table view.

Vertical bar chart representation for the subcode frequencies
Please note: The order of columns, bars, and segments is determined by row order in the frequency table.

You will see two toolbars at the top of this window. The upper toolbar is the same as the frequency table, and you can switch at any time to the table view. On the right side of the lower toolbar, you will see three buttons, with which you can choose between pie chart, horizontal and vertical bar chart. The chart can be customized using the options in the lower toolbar.

Display labels – show categorical labels of bar and pie charts on the x-axis.

Display data values – show the data label, meaning frequency of variable values or subcodes.

Display percentages – show relative, rather than absolute frequencies.

Display missing values – show missing values category.

Display legend – show the legend, which is switched “off” by default in bar charts.

Display scale – show the scale axis in bar charts.

Display title – show diagram title.

Display text – show textual description of diagram.

Change color scheme – opens window for color scheme selection.

Save current design as default – saves the current design and automatically applies this design to new diagrams.

Apply current style to all created diagrams – applies the current style to all currently created charts.

Customizing chart captions, colors and font sizes

When creating charts, MAXQDA sets an initial color scheme. To customize your charts, double-click on the selected segment and choose your desired color. Click on the Change color scheme  button to select from among three preset color schemes.

Double-click on the title, the description, or the category label to customize the text and its font.

Double-click the bars, circle segments, or axes to customize them.

Customize text, color, and font

Printing and exporting charts

In the toolbar in the upper right corner there are three icons that can be used to export and print the frequency tables and charts:

Copy – The whole window content is copied to the clipboard, so you can copy the results into a report or presentation without any detours, for example, by using Ctrl+V (Windows) or ⌘+V (macOS).

Pint – Prints the whole window content.

Export – Exports frequency tables as Excel files or as web pages in HTML format. Exports charts as image files in PNG or SVG format or in EMF format (Windows only).

Tipp: If you export a frequency table in Excel format, all currently created tables will be exported to a file as one worksheet each.

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