Survey Platform - Recode Values | Qualtrics

Recode Values


When you create a question, a numeric value (known as a “recode value”) and variable label are automatically assigned to each answer choice. By default, the first answer choice will be coded as a 1, the second choice as a 2, and so forth, even if you remove answer choices or change the answer choice order.

Warning: Recode values stop updating to reflect the new answer choice order once you start collecting responses (or if you copy a survey that has collected responses). Please note that these answer values may need to be changed manually.

These recode values and labels are recorded in the collected dataset and you can modify them to align with your desired statistical analysis.

Example: You may want to recode the values of a “yes” or “no” question to be 0 or 1, respectively, instead of the default 1 or 2.

For more information on exporting your dataset as values or as choice text, see our Export Data page.

Recode Value Order

Recode values are assigned in the order the answer choices are created. Before you collect responses, these values will reset to always be in sequential order as long as you don’t lock the values by selecting the Recode Values checkbox in the Recode Values menu.

After you collect your first response, the recode values won’t automatically update to be in a sequential order so as to protect your collected data.

Example: If you make three options—we’ll say Red, Yellow, and Blue—your recode values initially are 1, 2, and 3. If you delete Yellow and add Orange, Orange is the fourth option and has a recode value of 4. Your recode values are now 1, 3, and 4. If you move Red so that it’s the last listed option, your recode values are now 3, 4, and 1.

Recoding Values and Changing Variable Labels

  1. Navigate to the Survey module and select the question you want to change.image01
  2. Click the gray gear to the left to access the Question Options and choose Recode Values.image05
  3. Click the checkboxes for Recode Values and/or Variable Naming (the values and labels will appear next to the answer choices).image00
  4. Edit the coded values and labels as desired.image03
  5. Click Close when finished (do not deselect the checkboxes).image03
    Qtip: Deselecting the checkboxes will reset the Recode Values and/or Variable Naming to their original default values or labels (in case you need to restore their original values later on).

You can change these coded values and labels during survey building or after you have collected your data without invalidating your results. The change will be immediately reflected in your raw dataset and any statistics in your Data and Analysis module.

Question Export Tags

The Matrix and Side by Side question types will show an additional blue field for Question Export Tags. This option allows you to apply a custom export tag to each row statement of the question. These tags will help you distinguish the column titles for each statement in the exported data.


Available Question Types

Not every question type has the option to recode values. Text Entry questions, for example, are infinitely variable and so cannot have a numeric value assigned to each possibility. To have the recode option, a question must have a discrete number of answer choices.

Many question types meet this requirement. You can recode the values for the following types:

  • Multiple Choice
  • Matrix Table
  • Rank Order
  • Side by Side
  • Constant Sum (Type – Choices)
  • Graphic Slider
  • Gap Analysis
  • NPS

Exporting a Data Dictionary

For purposes of your research, you may want to have a central data repository to reference so that you know what each recode value represents in your dataset. You can export a data dictionary Word document that will list each question with the recoded value in parenthesis next to each answer choice.

To export a data dictionary

  1. Click Tools in the Survey module.image07
  2. Select Export Survey to Word.image06
  3. Check to make sure Show Coded Values is enabled.image08
  4. Click Export.image09