SPSS Data Entry Lab

SPSS Data Entry Basics

  • Start by clicking the SPSS icon on the desktop
    • In the opening window you are asked, “What would you like to do?”
    • “Open an existing file”is checked
  • Click Cancel
    • The DATA VIEW window will pop up

There are 2 ways of viewing the spreadsheet:

    DATA VIEW is used for working with data after variables have been entered already.
    VARIABLE VIEW is used for entering the names and characteristics of all variables that will be included.
  • Click on the VARIABLE VIEW tab which is located at the bottom left corner of the screen.

First, you must define your variables by creating names for each.

When in VARIABLE VIEW, the rows correspond to variables and the columns correspond to characteristics of variables. These characteristics include:

  • Name – this is where you create names for your variables (Default allows up to 8 characters)
  • Type – this refers to different types of variables such as text, numeric, string, etc. (For your purposes you will ALWAYS use NUMERIC)
  • Width – this is the number of characters the variable name column allows; default is 8.
  • Decimals – the number of decimal places you will use
  • Label – this is where you define your variable names
  • Values – this is where you give numerical values to categorical data (e.g. 0 = males, 1 = females)

Typically, the default settings for the different characteristics of each variable work fine – these settings assume you have a numerical variable that is continuous in nature. Usually, this is true. Sometimes you want to change the settings for a particular characteristic.
To do so, put the cursor in the rightmost side of the appropriate box and double click.

For example, if you have the categorical variable of “gender,” you would want to change the settings in the “value” column for this variable.
When in the row corresponding to “gender” click on the rightmost side of the box corresponding to the “variable”column.
A “value label” dialog box will appear. Choose what label you want to represent each number (e.g., 0 may represent male, 1 may represent female).
*IMPORTANT* – “add”each label before hitting OK.

1. For each variable that will exist in the research, you must type in a name for that variable in a row in the VARIABLE VIEW mode.

2. While entering the variable names, make a “data map.”

This “data map” is a hard (i.e., paper) copy of one of your surveys that has notes corresponding to how the variables in the survey are named and coded in your DATA VIEW part of the .sav file (a .sav file is a data file in SPSS).

3. After all variables are named, switch to DATA VIEW by clicking the DATA VIEW tab on the bottom left side of the screen.

4. In DATA VIEW, rows always represent cases (or participants) and columns always represent variables. Place the cursor on row 1, column 1 and click. Enter the data in DATA VIEW in the order you want.

5. After all data are entered save your file. To do this, click File→Save. The “Save Data As” dialog box will appear. If you have a disk, save it to the disk. If you do not have a disk, save it to the hard drive and email it to yourself. Name your file “your full name.sav” (e.g., JohnSchoopshabop.sav).


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