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10 tips for arranging the NVivo workspace

14 July 2013 - BY Guenther Krueger IN coding, models, NVivo, trees, visualizations, word, workspace

Here, Guenther Krueger outlines his top tips for organizing the NVivo workspace.

The default workspace that opens when you begin working in an NVivo project may not be the optimal view for the task at hand.

Learning to customize the workspace is an effective way to be more productive, save keystrokes, and visualize more information at one time.

Here are some suggestions you might want to consider:

1. Expand the Quick Access Toolbar

Add any command to the Quick Access toolbar:

Not only can you create a quick one-click icon for those things you commonly use, but you can also rearrange your workspace.

I have Detail View right/bottom available since I use that all the time, as well as icons for toggling on things such as the annotation and See Also Link window. I am also always expanding my node list, so I include the command for that.

Think of how you use the program and consider placing the appropriate command into this feature—instead of two clicks it will now be one click away.

I keep mine below the ribbon but that’s optional.

I also have all my icons in a logical order so that I’m not searching for something randomly. You can place them in any order you wish. Remember, this toolbar is available even when no project file is open.

2. Turn the ribbon off for more space

Right clicking on the ribbon and then ticking “Minimize the Ribbon” gives you more space instantly but does not reduce its functionality. Clicking on a tab still opens it temporarily and shows you what you need.

And remember, if for any reason you are unable to use a mouse you can also simply press the “ALT” key and you will see letters and numbers assigned to all your ribbon elements, minimized or not.

3. Undock

Undocking Detail View, allows you to work across mulitple items or expand one particular item to full screen.

Go to View and untick Docked or click Undock All.

Undocking is particularly useful for visualizations which may need more real estate:

An undocked Mind Map

Having separate undocked windows is also a terrific way to take advantage of two monitors if you have that luxury.

4. Turn off features you are not using

Not using the Find bar? Never use the Quick Coding toolbar? Turn them off from the View>Workspace ribbon option.

You can also expand and collpase Navigation View which gives you a nice wide space in which to view things:

Click arrow to expand or collapse Navigation View

5. But I love the Quick Coding toolbar

If you are a fan—and the ability to type in the beginning of the name of a node you know and get a Google-like fill-in is a fun feature—remember that you can float it.

Place it above your source or anywhere you like for that matter. Just go to View>Quick Coding>Floating.

6. Redo List View

List view can be extensively customized.

If your list of Sources consists of images, consider creating thumbnails which may be more useful to visualize:

You can display image thumnails in List View

In List View of Nodes, you can re-arrange things to suit your own project needs rather than accepting the standard default (which you can always get back with one mouse click).

Go to List View from the View tab with list view open. Then click Customize and experiment.


For example, if you are the sole researcher, maybe you don’t care about when the node was created or modified. But perhaps you want to have the descriptor handy (not in the default). Or you may wish to see if the node is aggregated or not (also not in the default). Remember, not only can you customize the view but you can also order it from left to right so you can see exactly what you need to.

And last but not least, remember that columns in List View can be ordered by clicking on the headers. Want to quickly see which nodes have the most references? Just click on the References header to find out.

7. Page Layout

Sometimes it’s preferable to see your pages as pages, not as continual text. Go to View>Window>Layout>Page Layout to change the view.

8. Customizing an open node

There are extensive modifications you can make to the open node view.

Perhaps you don’t want to share things like percent coverage or the hyperlink to the source when you view or share open node content.

Just choose an option from the Node ribbon:


9. Slide the divisions

Many divisions in NVivo such as the separation between Navigation View and Detail View, or the division between Detail View and the coding stripes, or even the columns in List View can be dragged right or left to size things to fit better. Hover over the division until you get a “splitter bar” and customize it.

10. Adding visual content to your project journal or any other internal source

Remember that most things in NVivo can be exported (for someone who has the software so they can replicate it, or for someone who does not so that they can open it in a browser to software application they are likely to have such as Word or Excel), but you can also paste visual and other information into your own internal NVivo work or project log.

For example, you can Right Click or use Ctrl+C to copy many visual elements such as charts or tree maps and paste them into a document for reference.

You can even use the Snapshot Tool to capture portions of a screen to paste into your documents. For example, you might wish to do this for your list of nodes in order to paste a screenshot into a coding memo to capture how your node list is evolving. In order to do this you must have the node list (or anything else) open exactly the way you want to see it in the preview pane. Then go to File>Print>Print Preview and click on the little camera icon (Snapshot Tool), select what you wish to capture, and then paste it into your document.

You only have one chance to get it right, but with a little practice you’ll get it the first time every time.

There are lots of other customizations and options available.

Try exploring the File>Options for modifications to the application or File>Info>Project Properties for project-specific changes.

Do you have any workspace tips to share?