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SPSS Tutorials: The Data View Window

Variables are observable and measurable traits of interest. Cases are records of information on one or more variables. This tutorial discusses how Cases and Variables are oriented in the SPSS Data View window.

Reading the Data View Window

When you view data in SPSS, each row in the Data View represents a case, and each column represents a variable.

Cases represent independent observations, experimental units, or subjects. For example, if the data are based on a survey of college students, then each row in the data would represent a specific college student who participated in the study. 

Variables are attributes, characteristics, or measurements that describe cases. For example, your data might include information such as each college student’s date of birth, gender, or class rank. Each of these pieces of information is a variable that describes each case (college student).

This is a typical layout for data, where rows are cases and columns are variables. (Other data structures are possible.)

Viewing Multiple Sections of Data Simultaneously

Sometimes it is useful to be able to see multiple sections of your data in the Data Editor window at the same time. The Split option allows you to divide the Data View window into multiple sections that can be viewed simultaneously. This option is especially helpful if you need to simultaneously view multiple sections of your data that are far apart in the spreadsheet. To split the window, click Window > Split.

Now the Data Editor window is partitioned into four sections. The upper and lower sections, as well as the left and right sections, are controlled by separate scroll bars.

Looking Up a Specific Case

SPSS provides a way of quickly jumping to specific cases or variables in your dataset in the Data View window. This is an especially useful option for large datasets that include hundreds of cases and variables.

To jump to a specific case number:

  1. Click the Go to case icon  or click Edit > Go to Case.

  2. In the Go to case number list, enter the case number or use the up/down arrows on the right to select the case number.

  3. Click Go. SPSS will jump to the case number specified.

Looking Up a Specific Variable

To jump to a specific variable:

  1. Click the Go to variable icon  or click Edit > Go to Variable.

  2. In the Go to variable list, type the variable name or select the variable name from the drop-down menu.

  3. Click Go. SPSS will jump to the variable name you selected.