Using SPSS and PASW/Understanding the Output Window

The Output Window is a window in SPSS that will open when you start manipulating or analyzing data. Whenever you run an analysis in SPSS, the results are reported in the Output Window. If you change your preferences to include syntax in the log (see corresponding chapter), that will be included in the Output Window as well. Often when the Output Window first opens, you will see that SPSS is processing your requests. Once the analysis is complete, the Output Window will display your results, like this:


The above screenshot provides an example of an Output Window after descriptive statistics were run on the variable “age” in the example data set of Genetic Counselors. The window includes toolbars and menus that are similar to those in the other SPSS windows, including: the Menu bar, the Tool bar, and the Status Bar. These items are included in the Output Window to help the user navigate his/her analyses as well as to edit, save, and print results.

You can see there are two parts to this window: the left panel and the right panel. Each part shows a different way of looking at the results of the analysis. The left panel shows a hierarchical tree of the output. You can use this tree to rapidly navigate through your output. Clicking on any one of the items in the tree moves the right panel to that part of the analysis. The right panel shows the results of the analyses.

The image below shows the left panel of the Output Window:


As you can see, the list starts with “Output”, emphasizing that this is the beginning of the output window. “Log” is the next item in the tree. The Log includes your syntax or the computer programming language that runs commands in SPSS (see corresponding chapters). The label “Frequencies” indicates that a frequencies analysis was conducted. The actual analyses that are shown in the right panel are next in the outline. The right panel shows the actual results of the analyses:


Above the output you can see the Log, which includes the syntax. This indicates what was requested in SPSS. The Frequencies title indicates that the results are to follow. The table shows the statistics that were requested, including the mean, median, and mode of the variable “age.”

Below are two additional screenshots illustrating the types of tables and graphs available in the Output Window. The first screenshot is a frequencies table that includes the ages of participants in the Genetic Counselor study along with how many reported those ages:


This last screenshot is of a histogram of the variable “age” with a normal curve:


Thus, the Output Window serves two purposes. It presents the results of your analyses and keeps a record of everything you've done (if you turn on the syntax; see corresponding chapter). Learning how to understand the Output Window is very important in working with SPSS.

Chapter contributed by Kimberly Duggan.

Last modified on 29 June 2010, at 03:06