Another Great SPSS book: SPSS Programming and Data Management

by Karen Grace-Martin

Have you ever needed to do some major data management in SPSS and ended up with a syntax program that’s pages long?  This is the kind you couldn’t even do with the menus, because you’d tear your hair out with frustration because it took you four weeks to create some new variables.

I hope you’ve gotten started using Syntax, which not only gives you a record of how you’ve recoded and created all those new variables and exactly which options you chose in the  data analysis you’ve done.

But once you get started, you start to realize that some things feel a little clunky.  You have to run the same descriptive analysis on 47 different variables.  And while cutting and pasting is a heck of a lot easier than doing that in the menus, you wonder if there isn’t a better way.

There is.

SPSS syntax actually has a number of ways to increase programming efficiency, including macros, do loops, repeats.

I admit I haven’t used this stuff a lot, but I’m increasingly seeing just how useful it can be.  I’m much better trained in doing these kinds of things in SAS, so I admit I have been known to just import data into SAS to run manipulations.

But I just came across a great resources on doing sophisticated SPSS Syntax Programming, and it looks like some fabulous bedtime reading.  (Seriously).

And the best part is you can download it (or order it, if you’d like a copy to take to bed) from the author’s website, Raynald’s SPSS Tools, itself a great source of info on mastering SPSS.

So once you’ve gotten into the habit of hitting Paste instead of Okay, and gotten a bit used to SPSS syntax, and you’re ready to step your skills up a notch, this looks like a fabulous book.

[Edit]: As per Jon Peck in the comments below, the most recent version is now available at under Books and Articles.

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Want to learn more? If you’re just getting started with data analysis in SPSS, or would like a thorough refresher, please join us in our online workshop Introduction to Data Analysis in SPSS.

Getting Started with SPSS Syntax
Do you want to know how to use SPSS syntax for data manipulation and analyses? You will witness all the advantages that come with using syntax, especially one that is already built-in.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jon Peck

Although Ray was instrumental in producing the first editions, he has not been involved with the book for some time. While I don’t know his plans for keeping an updated copy of the book on his website, I suggest that downloaders get the book from the SPSS Community site ( in the Books and Articles section, where you can also find many other resources. That way you can be sure of having the latest edition.



Thanks, Jon. I didn’t know that. I will edit the post to reflect the new info, in case anyone doesn’t read all the comments.


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