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SPSS Clone Variables Tool

Summary

Some SPSS commands such as RECODE and ALTER TYPE can make irreversible changes to variables. Before using these, I like to clone the variables that I'm about to edit. This allows me to compare the edited to the original versions.

This tutorial presents a super easy tool for making exact clones of variables in SPSS. We'll use bank-clean.sav (partly shown below) for all examples.

SPSS Clone Variables Tool Example Data

Prerequisites & Installation

Installing this tool requires

Recent SPSS versions usually meet these requirements.

Download our tool from SPSS_TUTORIALS_CLONE_VARIABLES.spe. You can install it from Extensions SPSS Menu Arrow Install local extension bundle as shown below.

SPSS Extensions Install Local Extension Bundle

After completing these steps, you'll find SPSS tutorials - Clone Variables under Transform.

SPSS Clone Variables Menu

Clone Variables Example I

Let's first clone jtype -short for job type- as illustrated below.

SPSS Clone Variables Dialog 1

Completing these steps results in the SPSS syntax below. Let's run it.

*CLONE JTYPE INTO CJTYPE - SHORT SYNTAX.

SPSS_TUTORIALS_CLONE_VARIABLES VARIABLES=jtype
/OPTIONS FIX="c" FIXTYPE=PREFIX ACTION=RUN.

Result

Note that SPSS has now added a new variable to our data: cjtype as shown below.

SPSS Clone Variables Tool Result

Except for its name, cjtype is an exact clone of jtype: it has the same

There's one minor issue with our first example: the syntax we just pasted only runs on SPSS installations with our tool installed.

The solution for this is to have the tool print native syntax instead: this syntax is typically (much) longer but it does run on any SPSS installation. Our second examples illustrates how to do just that.

Clone Variables Example II

Let's create native syntax for cloning a couple of different variables, including a string variable and a date variable.

SPSS Clone Variables Dialog 2

This option has our tool print native syntax into our output window.
Because we chose to print (rather than run) syntax, this is one of the rare occasions at which we click Ok instead of Paste.

Result

Note that we now have native syntax for cloning several variables in our output window.

SPSS Clone Variables Syntax In Output

For actually running this syntax, we can simply copy-paste-run it in a syntax window.The entire syntax is shown below.

*CLONE LAST_NAME TO EDUC - NATIVE SYNTAX.

STRING clast_name (A30).
RECODE last_name (ELSE = COPY) INTO clast_name.
APPLY DICTIONARY FROM * /SOURCE VARIABLES = last_name /TARGET VARIABLES = clast_name.
RECODE gender (ELSE = COPY) INTO cgender.
APPLY DICTIONARY FROM * /SOURCE VARIABLES = gender /TARGET VARIABLES = cgender.
RECODE dob (ELSE = COPY) INTO cdob.
APPLY DICTIONARY FROM * /SOURCE VARIABLES = dob /TARGET VARIABLES = cdob.
RECODE educ (ELSE = COPY) INTO ceduc.
APPLY DICTIONARY FROM * /SOURCE VARIABLES = educ /TARGET VARIABLES = ceduc.

If our tool creates very long syntax, you could copy it into a separate file and run it from an INSERT command.

Right, I guess that should cover this simple but handy little tool. Hope you'll give it a try and hope you'll find it helpful. If you've any remarks, feel free to throw me a quick comment below.

Thanks for reading!

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