Advanced text recoding

Updated at June 4th, 2020

Protobi has a few features to simplify the process of coding text verbatims, the Recode dialog and Recode (BETA).

The Recode (BETA) page is particularly helpful for coding open-ends with many responses. At the top of the page the project name and the element key are displayed. 

The main components of the page are:

  • Values/ tags: The values and their corresponding tags
  • Codes: Every tag that is added to the element will show up here
  • Search bar: Look up key words to limit the values that appear
  • Toolbar: Allows you to save, select values, add tags, etc...

How to access

To get to an element's Recode (BETA) page, press on the heading of the element you want to recode. It will turn blue to indicated it's selected. Then, from the "Advanced" button on the toolbar choose "Recode (BETA)."


Under the search bar, values from the element appear on the left, and each tag that is assigned to the value is on the right. 

  • Press on value(s) to select (yellow highlight)/ press again to deselect (white)
  • Press Esc on your keyboard as another way to deselect values
  • Press "+": brings up the add tag dialog 
    • You can choose an existing tag or create a new one. Press ok.
  • Press a tag: limits the view to only values that have the tag
    • Press the tag "none"  to see all uncoded values
  • Press "x": removes tag from value


The codes box on the far right of the page contains every tag that appears in the element. 

  • Press a tag: limits the view to only values that have the tag
  • Press "x": deletes ALL instances of the tag 
  • Drag a code: press on a code in the codes box, and drag it to a value as another way to tag it

Search bar

The search bar allows you to limit the view to values that mention a key word. Search "difficult," and only values that contain the word will appear in the view. 

You can also right click on a word and it will automatically be added to the search bar.


Clear (Esc)

Press (or use Esc button on keyboard) to clear your search.

Save (S)

Press (or use keyboard shortcut: S) to save your work.

Toggle (f)

Press to switch between raw and formatted values. 

The toggle button is particularly helpful for open-ends where respondents answered in a foreign language: 

After translating the element, on the Recode (BETA) page the toggle button allows you to switch the view between Chinese (raw) and English (formatted) values.

Select all (e)

Press to select all the values in the view. 

Below, we've used the button to select all values that mention "difficult." You can then add tags to many values at once. Press again to deselect all.

Add tag (t)

Press to add tag to selected values.

This button is an alternative to pressing the "+" sign next to values. Pressing will bring up the add tag dialog. You can choose an existing tag or create a new one. Press ok. 


CSV (E C) or XLSX (E X)

You can download the coded values in CSV or XLSX format. Below we see the downloaded Excel for an element (Q7_chinese). 

  • Column A: raw values
  • Column B: formatted values
    • If values were not formatted, the raw values will also be under fmt
  • Column C: the tags assigned to each value



If you prefer to do your coding in Excel, you can do so and upload the file. 

In order for this to work, use the column names seen in the downloaded file: value, fmt, (element key). If you do not have fmt (formatted) values, delete the column.

See related

Code text verbatims using the "Recode" dialog from the context menu.

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