SPSS Tutorials


Set Decimals for Output


Setting the decimal places for output is not straightforward. One can exert some control by altering the variable formats. However, for full control, one needs Python Scripting or SaxBasic.

1. Changing Variable Formats

The number of decimals in SPSS output basically depends on the combination of statistic, procedure and variable format. Manipulating the latter is usually the easiest way to control the output formats to some extent. For example, try and run the following syntax.
*1. Specify format for new numeric variables.

set format=f8.2.

*2. Create mini test data.

data list free/v1.
begin data
1 2 3
end data.

*3. Basic descriptives.

descriptives v1.

*4. Change variable format.

format v1(f2.0).

*5. Basic descriptives.

descriptives v1.
By comparing the first and second descriptives tables, four different rules for the number of decimals can be derived:
SPSS Decimal Places in Output SPSS Output - Decimal Places for Descriptives

2. Using Python Scripting

As illustrated, some control over decimals can be exerted by changing variable formats. However, this is rather limited. For instance, the mean wil always have at least two decimals and the standard deviation will always have one decimal more than the mean. These limitations can be overcome with either SaxBasic (which is deprecated) or Python Scripting. A very basic Python script for setting all decimal places to zero is
*Set all decimal places in a "descriptives" table to zero.

begin program.
import SpssClient
oDoc = SpssClient.GetDesignatedOutputDoc()
oItems = oDoc.GetOutputItems()
for index in range(oItems.Size()):
    oItem = oItems.GetItemAt(index)
    if oItem.GetDescription() == "Descriptive Statistics" and oItem.GetType() == SpssClient.OutputItemType.PIVOT:
        pTable = oItem.GetSpecificType()
        for rows in range(dCells.GetNumRows()):
            for cols in range(dCells.GetNumColumns()):
end program.
Although this basic script is a bit lengthy, modifying it (for instance, have different decimal places for different statistics) wouldn't require too much extra code. Also, note that the script could be rewritten as a function (accepting parameters such as decimal places) and placed in a module for easier access.

3. The MODIFY TABLES Extension

An alternative way to fine tune the numbers of decimal places in output tables is to use the MODIFY TABLES extension, which can be downloaded here. This extension can do much more than setting decimal places but some find it hard to use (perhaps even harder than basic Python scripting). Under the hood it basically generates and runs a Python script (like the one we just saw) given some specifications. Setting decimal places to one for the Mean and Standard deviation is done like so
*Set decimals of descriptives to 1 with the modify tables extension.

SPSSINC MODIFY TABLES subtype="'Descriptive Statistics'"
SELECT="Mean" "Std. Deviation"

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