Annotating (coding) interview transcripts in obsidian

What I’m trying to do

Dear fellow PKM enthusiasts,

I am trying to find a way for coding my interview transcripts in obsidian. This would mean that I highlight (select) a sentence or word(s), add a comment to them (like a note or hashtag) which I will be able to find whenever I search my database.

For example:

  1. I am John and I like swimming, because the cold water wakes me up when I’m tired. Needles to say, I mostly swim in the mornings after waking up.
  1. I am Nina and I like swimming, because I see my friends at the swimming pool. Me and my friends go swimming after school.

Let’s say these are transcripts of interviews about swimming. For my research I want to know why people swim and at what time of day people swim.

When I would print this on paper, I would highlight the passages that provide me answers to these questions and to the left on some white space scribble down the codes “why” and “time”. These codes are there so when I skim through multiple interviews looking for the why people swim answer I can find it right away. Digitally, however, I would use the search function. However, when I add hashtags (#why, #time) into the text it becomes quite messy after a while. Imagine having 10-20 codes. So I need a better way that doesn’t obscure reading. Like invisible hashtags maybe when in preview mode.

Also, I can’t figure out a way to add comments to highlighted text as you can in word and adobe reader. For example, I would like to add a note to 2) where Nina says

“I like swimming, because I see my friends at the swimming pool”

The note would be: “Swimming is seen as a social activity”. This note then links to the code/hashtag, providing deeper meaning to the question why people swim.

Does anyone have experience solving a similar issue? I know there is software like atlas.ti but that’s very expensive and out of reach for me.

You certainly could emulate your marginal notes by placing the text of the interview in a table, perhaps one table row for each sentence or statement. You then could use a column to the right for tagging the statements.

The handling would not be as elegant as with a tool dedicated to that purpose, but it could be a workable compromise.

You may want to look into the dialogue plugin. With some creative annotation, you’d probably be able to include transcription timing per utterance.


A cool plug-in would be to let you add tags in a document and then be able to work with tags at a document level. Like see tags in the document, see tags and numbers of tags in a set of documents or a folder, see number of times tags appear together in the a set of documents…

How about combining MetaEdit and Dataview?

Or do you mean adding tags to .doc/.pdf files?

This topic was automatically closed 30 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.