The SPSS EnvironmentThe Data View WindowUsing SPSS SyntaxData Creation in SPSSImporting Data into SPSSCreating and Deleting CasesCreating and Deleting VariablesVariable TypesDate-Time Variables in SPSSDefining VariablesRecoding VariablesAutomatic RecodeComputing VariablesSorting DataSplitting DataWeighting Cases
DescriptivesCompare MeansExploreFrequencies Part I (Continuous Data)Frequencies Part II (Categorical Data)Crosstabs
Pearson Correlation (bivariate)One Sample t TestIndependent Samples t Test
This is the "Exploring Data" page of the "SPSS Tutorials" guide.
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SPSS Tutorials   Tags: spss, statistics, tutorials  

This LibGuide contains written and illustrated tutorials for the statistical software SPSS.
Last Updated: May 12, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

Exploring Data Print Page

Part 1: Descriptive Statistics for Continuous Variables

Before doing any kind of hypothesis testing or model building, you should always examine your data for unusual features or patterns

In Part 1, we discuss how to explore quantitative data using the Descriptives, Compare Means, Explore, and Frequencies procedures. Each of these procedures offers different strengths for analyzing and comparing continuous variables.


  • Descriptives
    Descriptives (Analyze > Descriptive Statistics > Descriptives) is best to obtain quick summaries of numeric variables, or to compare several numeric variables side-by-side.
  • Compare Means
    Compare Means (Analyze > Descriptive Statistics > Descriptives) is best used when you want to compare several numeric variables with respect to one or more categorical variables. It is especially useful for summarizing numeric variables simultaneously across multiple factors.
  • Explore
    Explore (Analyze > Descriptive Statistics > Explore) is best used to deeply investigate a single numeric variable, with or without a categorical grouping variable. It can produce a large number of descriptive statistics, as well as confidence intervals, normality tests, and plots.
  • Frequencies Part I (Continuous Variables)
    Frequencies (Analyze > Descriptive Statistics > Frequencies) is typically used to analyze categorical variables, but can also be used to obtain customized information about percentiles that isn't otherwise included in the Descriptives, Compare Means, or Explore procedures.

Part 2: Descriptive Statistics for Categorical Variables

In Part 2, we describe how to obtain descriptive statistics for categorical variables using the Frequencies and Crosstabs procedures.


  • Frequencies Part II (Categorical Variables)
    Frequencies (Analyze > Descriptive Statistics > Frequencies) is primarily used to create frequency tables, bar charts, and pie charts for a single categorical variable.
  • Crosstabs
    The Crosstabs procedure (Analyze > Descriptive Statistics > Crosstabs) is used to create contingency tables, which describe the interaction between two categorical variables. This tutorial covers the descriptive statistics aspects of the Crosstabs procedure, including and row, column, and total percents.
  • Crosstabs: Statistics
    (Coming Soon) The Crosstabs procedure offers fifteen different statistics options, each of which are suited to very different situations. This tutorial walks through each different option and discusses when and how each statistic should be used. Reference links to the official IBM SPSS Statistics guide are given.

Part 3: Graphical Exploration

In Part 3, we talk about several dedicated graphics procedures in SPSS that can be used to explore data.

  • P-P and Q-Q Plots
    (Coming Soon)
  • Chart Builder
    (Coming Soon)
  • Graphboard Template Chooser
    (Coming Soon)
  • Legacy Chart Tools
    (Coming Soon)

Sample Data Files

Our tutorials reference a dataset called "sample" in many examples. If you'd like to download the sample dataset to work through the examples, choose one of the files below:


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