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SPSS Dictionary

It's not informative that "a respondent has 0 on v1" unless you know what v1 and 0 refer to. Such information - what the data actually represent - is collectively know as the dictionary.

This tutorial merely explains what the SPSS dictionary is. For learning how to modify it properly (that is, by syntax), see Changing Variable Properties 1 - Introduction.

SPSS Dictionary - What is it?

SPSS Dictionary Commands

SPSS Dictionary - Complete Overview

Note: we tried to sort these properties from most to least important. "Optional" indicates whether a property can (technically) be absent.

NameApplies toFunctionImportanceOptional
variable nameVariableVariable identifier.HighNo
LabelVariableNormal language description of the meaning of variables.HighYes
Value LabelsValueNormal language description of the meaning of values.HighYes
User Missing ValuesValueTells SPSS which values to ignore in calculations.HighYes
TypeVariableTells SPSS how to store values internally.HighNo
FormatVariableTells SPSS how to display numeric values.HighNo
DocumentData fileLong data file description.LowYes
WidthVariableMaximum number of characters that values may consist of.LowNo
ColumnsVariableVariable's column width (as displayed on screen).LowNo
Variable AttributeVariableDescriptive tags for variables.LowYes
Datafile attributeData fileData file description using arrays.LowYes
File labelData fileShort data file description.LowYes
AlignVariableAlignment of data values (on screen).LowNo
MeasureVariableMeasurement level nominal, ordinal or scale (= metric).LowNo
RoleVariableThe variable's supposed relation to other variables.LowNo

Previous tutorial: SPSS Data Preparation 6 – Inspect Cases

Next tutorial: Changing Variable Properties 1 – Introduction

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