Import documents and PDFs


This topic explains how to import document and PDF files.

What do you want to do?


Understand document and PDF import

You might have interview transcripts or field notes in Word files, OpenDocument files, rich text files or plain text files. You can import these materials into NVivo. When you import these files into NVivo, the content of the file is imported into NVivo as a 'document' source. You can edit the content of the document within NVivo.

You may have source materials such as government reports in PDF format, or a collection of archival material that has been scanned and saved as PDF files. You can import these materials directly into NVivo. When you import PDF files into NVivo, the PDF is imported into your project as a 'PDF' source. You cannot edit the content of the PDF within NVivo.

PDFs that are created by scanning paper documents may contain only images—each page is a single image. If you import the PDF into NVivo, you will find that there is no text in the page to select, code or query and you cannot use Text Search or Word Frequency queries to explore the content. In this situation, you could consider using optical character recognition (OCR) to convert the scanned images to text and then import the PDF files into NVivo.

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Other ways document or PDF sources can be created

Document or PDF sources may be created when you import content from web pages. You can import web pages as PDFs using the NCapture browser extension. When you see something on the web that you want to bring into your project, you can capture it using NCapture.  Web pages are converted to PDF sources when you import them into NVivo. Refer to Import web pages for more information.

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Import a document or PDF file

You can import documents—from Microsoft Word files (.doc, .docx), OpenDocument files (.odt), rich text files (.rtf) and text files (.txt)—and you can import PDF files.

To import a document or PDF file:

  1. In Navigation View, click the name of the sources folder that you want to import the document into.

  2. On the Data tab, in the Import group, click Documents or PDFs.

  1. Select the file you want to import.

  2. Click the Open button.

  3. (Optional) Change the name or description of the new document source.

  4. Click Done.


  • When you import Word documents into NVivo you may find that some elements (for example, headers and footers) are not imported. If a particular Word document does not convert well when you import it into NVivo, you should consider creating a PDF version of the document and then importing the PDF into NVivo.

  • You cannot import password-protected Word documents.

  • If a PDF file is password-protected, you will be prompted to enter the password when you import the file. If you do not know the password, you cannot import the file into NVivo.

  • You can import multiple files at the same time—refer to About sources (can I import a lot of source files at once?) for more information.

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Import PowerPoint presentations and other material as PDF sources

If you have digital content in formats that you cannot directly import into NVivo (for example, web pages and PowerPoint presentations), you may be able to save or export the content to a PDF file. You may also be able to print the material to a PDF file, if you have installed a PDF printer driver on your computer.

Once the content is in a PDF file, you can import it into NVivo in the usual way—refer to Import a document or PDF file for more information.

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