Helpful Books on Content Analysis


Krippendorff, K. (2018). Content analysis: An introduction to its methodology (4th edition). Sage Publications.

These first two books are ‘must-haves’ for individuals relying on content analysis regularly, but for different reasons.

Krippendorff’s book on content analysis is the book I most often see cited when reading content analyses (not unlike Glaser and Strauss for grounded theory). It is chock full of valuable information on content analysis. I particularly like Krippendorff’s balanced view on content analysis spanning both qualtitative and quantitative domains.

One important reason this isn’t the only book you need on content analysis: It’s a pretty difficult read. Even for indoctrinated content analysts, the way Krippendorff presents information can be difficult to process. This is an excellent reference book, but maybe not the ideal book to learn from.



Neuendorf, K. A. (2018). The content analysis guidebook (2nd edition). Sage Publications.

Neuendorf’s content analysis guidebook is a valuable complement to Krippendorff. Neuendorf’s presentation of content analysis is easier to digest and process for those just learning content analysis. For this reason, if you’re teaching yourself content analysis on your own, I recommend starting here.

At some point you’re going to want Krippendorff’s book as well. Neuendorf takes a decidedly quantitative perspective on content analysis in contrast to Krippendorff’s broader perspective. And Krippendorff does go deeper into philosophical and technical details that Neuendorf does not. However, this is what makes these books valuable complements and is not intended as a jab at either… it’s just the approach each book takes.



Weber, R. P. (1990). Basic content analysis (2nd edition). Sage Publications.

Despite being published over 20 years ago, Weber’s little green book remains one of the better quick reference guides for content analysis.

Like the entire ‘little green book’ series, the idea here isn’t to provide you with deep insight into the technique. For a deep exposition on content analysis, you should look to Krippendorff and Neuendorf above. However, if you need to understand the essentials of the technique quickly – this is a good one.

The book being a bit dated doesn’t get in the way of its utility as a reference for individuals using manual content analysis. However, if you are using computer-aided text analyses, the technology has moved significantly since this was published and you probably won’t get much from this book.


Helpful Articles on Content Analysis


Duriau, V. J., Reger, R. K., & Pfarrer, M. D. (2007). A content analysis of the content analysis literature in organization studies: Research themes, data sources, and methodological refinements. Organizational Research Methods10(1), 5-34.

When I use content analysis in my research, I usually end up citing this article. For organizational scholars, this article provides a wonderful overview of content analysis and its applications in organizational scholarship. Whether you’re looking to see how different subfields have been using content analysis, identify the texts content analysts have used in their analyses, or just brush up on the basics of what you need to present to convey the rigor of your analysis, this article addresses most of what you’d be looking for.


Ray, J. L. & Smith, A. D. (2012). Using photographs to research organizations: Evidence, considerations, and application in a field study. Organizational Research Methods15(2), 288-315.

When many researchers hear “content analysis” they often think only of written text. However, a broader view of content analysis focuses on extracting meaning from a variety of sources. This article outlines how photographs can be used in organizational research. Photographs are but one alternative data source among many (e.g., videos, audio), and there are valuable articles discussing these alternative sources as well. However, this article provided a much-needed nudge for content analysts in management research to be more thoughtful in considering the opportunities for research using other rich data sources.


Pennebaker, J. W., Mehl, M. R., & Niederhoffer, K. G. (2003). Psychological aspects of natural language use: Our words, our selves. Annual Review of Psychology54, 547-577.

While Jamie Pennebaker is best known in content analysis circles for his Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) dictionary-based computer-aided text analytic software, this article is a must-read for content analysts of all types. While some content analysis is interested in the manifest effects of language, much content analytic work asserts a connection between the language we use and some deeper construct of interest. Whether that is personality, values, strategy, emotion, or otherwise, understanding the psychological underpinnings of language use is pretty important. This article provides a valuable exposition on just that. It is focused on psychology research and generally follows Jamie’s work using LIWC, but I think there are valuable insights for all content analysts here as well.