Last modified on 29 June 2010, at 02:53

Using SPSS and PASW/Changing Preferences to Order Lists Alphabetically

This chapter will illustrate how to change the settings to order the variable list in windows alphabetically. By default SPSS arranges the variable list in the same order as found in the data editor, however it is also possible to arrange the list alphabetically. This is very useful when you have many variables as you can then search for variables simply by typing the name of the variable in the variable list box and SPSS will jump to that variable.

Setting SPSS to display variable names instead of labels was covered in Chapter 7. Setting SPSS to display the variables alphabetically is very similar. To begin, select “Edit” → “Options”:


After having selected the “options” tab, you will see this window:


Select the “Alphabetical” option in the “Variable Lists” box on the top left hand side:


Once you've selected the “Alphabetical” option, click on the “OK” button as shown above.

Once you have done this, another small window will pop up. This window notifies you that “Changing any option in the Variable List group will reset all dialog box settings to their defaults, and all open dialogs will be closed.” Basically this just means you won't see any changes in any dialogs you currently have open. Click “OK” once again:


To see the ordered variable lists you can click on any option that includes a variable list. This is illustrated below using “Descriptives.” Click on “Analyze” → “Descriptive Statistics” → “Descriptives”:


You should end up with a window similar to the below one. The variables in the left hand side box should be ordered alphabetically:


You can now easily search through a list of variables by typing in the name and SPSS will jump directly to that variable.

Chapter contributed by Clarine Ovando-LaCroux.