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Entering Data in SPSS

The following illustration describes how to enter the data in SPSS
When you launch SPSS (steps described in earlier tutorial), your next job is to create a dataset.
Dataset is created in the data editor window of SPSS. The data editor window has two sub-windows named “data view” and “variable view” at the left bottom side of the opened software in the data viewer window. Its desirable to create the variables first prior to entering the data. Variables can be entered in the variable view.

We see a number of columns in the variable view namely name, type, width, decimal, label, values, missing, columns, align, measure and role. We will not discuss all of these, as our priority is on the must-know features first. Use the following steps to define your variables.

1. In the name, we write the shortcut name of the variable. For example, if the variable is “name of the respondent”, we may write the variable name as “res”. The detailed name can be written in the label section as shown in the picture below. Remember that the variable name cannot start with the number and it can’t have space. Examples of unsupported variable names are “1.respondent”, “name respondent”. Examples of supported variables are: “@1.respondent”, “name_respondent”. So, a variable name can start with “@” sign and it can have the underscore symbol in between characters which makes the variable more recognizable.

2. In the type, we can define to which category does the variable belong. E.g. numeric or string (categorical), date, currency etc. If we are not sure about which category does our variable fit in, it is better to leave it as "numeric" which is selected by default.

3. Width denotes how long our data will be while entering it in the data view. For example, the width of the data "male" is 4, the width of "student" is 7. So, width is the number of characters of a data. By default, the width selected is 8.

4. Decimals is the column which we use to specify the number of decimals for a numeric data of a particular variable. If we select the variable category as string, the decimals will automatically be inactive and set to 0.

5. In Label, we can write full name of the variable. e.g. for a variable "gender", the label is "gender of the respondent"

6. In the values, we can add data values. For example, 1 for male and 2 for female. This makes the data entry easy and consistent.

We will study the role of other sections such as missing, columns, align, measure and role later. To summarize, missing helps us put a value for missing data which is useful for large data sets that might have many missing data. The role of measure is to specify to which scale of measurement does a variable fall. e.g. gender is nominal, birthweight in kg is scale (ratio scale), severity of injury measured as mild, moderate and severe is ordinal.

After defining variables, we click on data view tab at the bottom which shows the sub-window for entering data.

The following video helps us to enter data in SPSS with simple steps!

Good luck and see you in the next tutorial!


  1. It is really helpful. Thank you

  2. One question dai. Why are we taking gender as string and not numeric? Just a example right?

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