Last modified on 28 July 2011, at 12:27

Using SPSS and PASW/Understanding the Data View

The Data Editor window of SPSS has two tabs that provide slightly different information. This chapter explores the Data View tab.

The tabs are shown in the bottom left corner of the Data Editor window, as illustrated in this screenshot:


The Data View tab shows the raw data in your data set. The rows represent individual cases. If your level of analysis is individuals, each row will represent a single person.


The columns represent variables. Each column contains an individual case's data on that particular variable.


A cell, at the intersection of a row and a column represents an observation.

Depending on the size of your data set, you may need to scroll up or down to see more cases or left or right to see more variables.

The Data View tab in SPSS also allows you to modify your raw data. You can do so by simply clicking on any cell in the Data View tab:


Once you click on the cell, if you begin typing, you will replace all of the information in the cell. If you double-click on a cell, you can then modify the contents without replacing them:


While a nice feature of SPSS, the ability to modify your raw data is also a little bit scary as it makes it very easy to change your raw data, which is always something that should be done with caution as that will change your analyses. Recent versions of SPSS include an "undo" feature, but not all changes in SPSS can be undone. Thus, whenever you are in the Data View tab of the Data Editor window, you should be very careful that you do not unintentionally modify the raw data. It is good practice to work on copies of original data and to keep back-ups so that you can restore your data to good condition in the case of serious mishaps.

There are several additional things you can do in this tab. By selecting a column or row header, then clicking on the selected column or row header, you can move columns and rows to rearrange them:


Moving through the data can be accoomplished using the arrow keys, the page up and down keys, the home and end keys as you expect from using other Windows programs. One useful habit is to use the tab key to move through data. The tab key wraps around the data when it encounters an empty, undefined column, moving on to the next case.

Additionally, you can sort by variable values, which is illustrated in a separate chapter on sorting data.