Generating and grabbing SPSS syntax which is automatically generated

SPSS syntax

Grabbing SPSS Syntax

I’ve asked a few of my colleagues and we estimate that around 90% of SPSS users only use the GUI interface.  While the GUI interface has it’s merits (I still use it from time to time) using syntax is one of the best ways to be more productive.

In the below video I demonstrate three ways to get /create SPSS syntax generated by using the GUI interface.  This is a great way to begin learning how to utilize code!

Generating and grabbing SPSS syntax which is automatically generated



Configure your SPSS variable format properly using syntax

SPSS variable

SPSS Variable Formats

If you’re you want to have pretty-looking tables / output, having your data in the proper format really helps.  (not to mention that SPSS is “smart” and will prevent showing them in some GUI procedures if your variable is the “wrong” type.)

While the GUI window to the data editor makes it easy to adjust the variable level, format, type,etc.  I had a hard time finding the correct syntax to set them programatically.

This video helps with some of the more-common settings.  Below is the syntax for tweaking SPSS variable level and format.


Setting up your SPSS data with proper formats

Check out my post on setting SPSS variables for missing data!

Why you should learn SPSS syntax- Intro tutorial & demo video

SPSS syntax

Why you should learn SPSS syntax

For more than a decade I’ve been teaching people SPSS syntax, macros, and scripts.   Somehow throughout that time I never wrote this post to help explain some of the main benefits of using syntax over the GUI interface.  To me there are lots of reasons why you should make it a priority to learn how to code in SPSS.  I’ve made an attempt to prioritize them and demonstrated many in the below video.

  1. Without any real additional work you can reuse:
    • renaming of variables
    • setting variable labels
    • define format (numeric, scale, dates, % etc)
    • regroup variables
  2. Work ahead-
    • Export small amount of data on initial kick-off and work on the data file/format.
    • Have the frame-work of your report done.
    • Then, when done collecting data, export and write-up analysis
  3. @from Jon Peck- Review what analysis was run in the past.  Determine what you (or perhaps a colleague scratching his head) did  right/wrong or just borrow from the past.  (Hint* did you know there is a log file you can check which might have all GUI/syntax you have ever run?  I mention it in this video.)
  4. Redo analysis done on different data set
  5. Create macros (special type of SPSS syntax) to re-purpose code for an amazing time savings!
  6. Apply similar re-coding / analytics on multiple variables
  7. Macros– True gems of saving time
  8. Some things are only available in syntax
  9. Allow for re-applying settings
  10. Use from other sources (labels from questionnaire ,database, etc.)

In the video below I explain the above concepts and I firmly believe that, after watching the video, you’ll understand why learning SPSS syntax is a great next step for you.

Why you should learn to use SPSS synatx