Using a Word Processor to Tag and Retrieve Blocks of Text

Published in: Field Methods, v. 16, no. 1, Feb. 2004, p. 109-130

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2004

by Gery W. Ryan

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Sophisticated text management software is currently available for doing thematic or code-based analysis, the principal procedural approach to qualitative data analysis. Such packages allow researchers to tag and retrieve contiguous blocks of data, maintain complex codebooks, manage large corpora of data, and display search results in interesting ways. For simple projects, however, with a few themes and a small number of texts, a complex program that requires a large investment of time to learn may be more technology than one needs. This article provides tips for making better use of the humble word processor, in this case, Microsoft Word. The use of text formatting features, find-and-replace command, and Microsoft Word's macro programming language can be used to mark themes in texts and retrieve exemplars of themes on demand.

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