Qualitative research data analysis with ATLAS.ti

ATLAS.ti is a computer program that can be very useful for research. It is mostly used to analyze qualitative research data, for example to analyze written interviews or for literature research

Current news: license renewal and switch to version 9. See also: What's new in ATLAS.ti 9

Download the ATLAS.ti FAQ (for staff / for students).

Explanation of installation of ATLAS.ti 9 on private computers.

General information

ATLAS.ti is a computer program that can be very useful for students and staff conducting research. It is mostly used to assist the analysis of qualitative research data, for example an analysis of interviews or literature. SPSS is a widely used program to assist quantitative research while ATLAS.ti supports qualitative research.

ATLAS.ti is software supporting the analysis of qualitative data e.g.:

  • Literature research
  • Document analysis
  • Analysis of (transcripts of) interviews

Research steps

Functions within ATLAS.ti

structuring documents (research data)

group manager

reading, analysing, tagging

coding; code manager

writing comments and research notes

comments; memos

creating various overviews


The number of users is increasing every year. ATLAS.ti is being used:

  • by researchers and graduate students in the research group teams
  • by lecturers teaching on subjects involving qualitative research, research methodology, interview analysis, or during graduation preparation
  • by students in various courses and during research for their theses
The Hague University of Applied Sciences has a campus licence for ATLAS.ti. The licence allows all students and staff to use the complete version of ATLAS.ti on fixed THUAS computers, laptops, in PC rooms as well as on computers at home. Personal licences do not need to be purchased.

There are desktop versions of ATLAS.ti for Windows and Mac with equal functionality. There is also a simplified Cloud version and tablet version for the iPad and Android. The THUAS campus license allows for unlimited use of all available versions, see http://atlasti.com/product/. Updates are available frequently.

All desktop pc’s at the university have ATLAS.ti version 9 installed. That’s also the case for IT managed laptops.

Starting the program: Windows start menu -> ATLAS.ti

Version 9 is 64-bit software and requires a minimum of 4 GB internal memory, which means that it cannot be installed on older 32-bit computers. (Windows see: Settings -> System -> About: Device specifications). See also: What's new in ATLAS.ti 9 or this more extensive document What's new.

Attention: projects can be transferred from an older version of ATLAS.ti to a newer version, but the other way around is not possible! There is only backward compatibility. So projects created in version 9 cannot be used in version 8.

University computers (desktops and laptops)
ATLAS.ti s standard software and installed on all desktop computers at THUAS. The licence is renewed annually at the beginning of April. Staff members do not need to do anything and can continue to use the program, even if a warning appears towards the end of the licence period that the licence will expire. Note: with these IT managed computers, the automatic update function is disabled, unlike software that you install yourself. If ATLAS.ti is not yet on your THUAS laptop, you can request it from Frontoffice FZ/IT.

Private computers
Staff members and students can download ATLAS.ti for Windows or Mac. See this explanation. The required invite key is on page 2 of the ATLAS.ti FAQ (see at the top of this webpage).

Using ATLAS.ti on laptops and computers that are not managed by the THUAS is at the risk of the user. The university offers no technical support. For the technical requirements, see: https://atlasti.com/product/technical-info/

Securing safe storage of ATLAS.ti projects
THUAS desktop and laptop computers have been configured to store projects on the H: disk. However, this can cause problems with laptops if the Internet connection at home to the network environment is less stable. We recommend changing the storage location setting to the default setting: local storage (C: disk). Please refer to this instruction.

Backup and exchange of projects
It is wise not only to make a backup of the project data in a secure location (e.g. secure USB stick or OneDrive) before an update, but also to make a backup of the project data on a regular basis. For example, after each work session. You can do this via the menu: File à Export à Project bundle. In this way you can also exchange projects between computers.

Working with ATLAS.ti

Open: Windows Start menu - ATLAS.ti

1. Create a new project
Starting screen or File - New: Create New Project
Give a project name e.g. the title and date of the research conducted

2. Import the documents
Tab Home – Add documents
Small triangle: Add files or Add folder contents
Select the files and click open

3. Create Document groups
Tab Home – Documents – Small triangle: Document Groups
New Group; give a name and click on Create

For example:
- Scientific articles
- Newspaper articles
- Interviews

Select the files at the right hand side and click on the left arrow in the Document Group Manager

4. Saving the project without research data
File – Save (hidden file)

5. Saving the entire project including research data
File - Export - Project Bundle (file extentension:  .atlproj)

We recommend saving a Project bundle regularly as backup!
See the online "HowTo" for projects exchange and mixed Windows / Mac teams

1. Coding document fragments

Select a fragment of the document (= quotation). You can add one or more codes using the icons or the right mouse button:

Open coding: add a new code
Coding in vivo: the text selected becomes a code
List coding: pick the codes from a list made beforehand
Quick coding: use the previously applied code
Auto coding: automatically code the documents based on a query

2. For list coding, create new codes in advance
Tab Home – Codes – Free code(s)

For example:
"human impact"

At the right margin of a document you can see the quotations and codes applied. You can add a Comment (displayed as a small yellow marking) to them using the right mouse button. Comments can be added to documents or the entire project as well.

4. The codes appear in the Code Manager (Tab Home – Codes)

1. You can access the fragments by code in the Code Manager
Go to the Code Manager (Tab Home – Codes) and doubleclick on a code

2. How often do codes occur?
Go to the Code Manager: check the number at “groundedness” next to the code name

3. Compiling reports, output
Create a report of all the marked quotations
Tab Home – Quotations – Report – All items – Grouping: none

Create a report of all quotations sorted by document order
Tab Home – Quotations – Report – All items – Grouping: documents

Create a report of all quotation by code
Tab Home – Quotations – Report – All items – Grouping: codes

4. How often do themes occur?
Tab Analyze – Code Document Table
Select Codes or Code groups and Documents or Document groups
You can export to Excel

5. WordCloud
Open a document and click on WordCloud in the Document tab
To omit non-relevant words: click on a stop word list next to Exclude.
Add stop word list: click on the icon "Edit Stop and Go Lists" next to Exclude.
Click on Import Lists, select the Excel file with the desired language and click Open: Dutch English French German Spanish


  • In ATLAS.ti itself: Tab Tools & Support – Useful Links
  • Windows Start / Scientific Software / ATLAS.ti 8 Quicktour & What’s new in ATLAS.ti 8
  • Online user manuals, how-to's and sample projects: http://atlasti.com/manuals-docs/
  • Video tutorials: http://atlasti.com/video-tutorials/
  • YouTube videos: https://www.youtube.com/user/ATLASti01
  • Friese, S. (2019). Qualitative data analysis with ATLAS.ti. Third edition. London: Sage.
    Central location university library, shelf mark 527.9/FRIE
    Accompanying website
  • ATLAS.ti video blog Susanne Friese
  • Woolf, N.H. & Silver, S. Qualitative Analysis Using ATLAS.ti: The Five-Level QDA™ Method. London: Routledge.
    central location university library, shelf mark 527.9/WOOL and as e-book

Introduction ATLAS.ti - THUAS library presentation with audio

Stop word lists: Dutch English French German Spanish
Example project Children and Happiness: stage1, stage2, survey and ATLAS.ti website
Example documents Sea Turtles: newspaper, WWF, article1, article2, article3, video
Example transcripts from Dutch master thesis: Annabelle, Lisa, Maaike, Petra, Roos

In ATLAS.ti version 7.5: menu Help; version 8.1: Tab Tools & Support – Useful Link

For questions about installation and licence codes for ATLAS.ti, staff members and students can go to the FrontOffice F&IT, Ovaal 1. desk, iFrontOffice on the intranet / tel: 7777.

For questions about the functions and operation of ATLAS.ti, staff members and students can go to the THUAS Library, functional managers Niloufar Soekhai and Francesco Izzo. Help desk Library on ground floor, bibliotheek@hhs.nl / tel: 7888.

The library also offers support by giving presentations and workshops about ATLAS.ti. Target groups are students who come into contact with qualitative research in the run-up to and during their graduation research; teachers/researchers; assessors and PhD students. The ATLAS.ti introduction presentation with audio comments can be downloaded.