Using SPSS and PASW/Changing Preferences to Order Lists Alphabetically

This page will illustrate how to change SPSS' settings in order to have its variable lists alphabetically sorted.

By default, SPSS arranges the variable list in the same order as found in the data editor, however, arranging the list alphabetically is useful when you have many variables, because it allows searching for variables by simply pressing the first letter of their name: the selected list item will jump to the first matching variable name.

To set SPSS to display the variables alphabetically is easy. To begin, click “Edit” → “Options”:

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

Select the "Display names" and “Alphabetical” options in the “Variable Lists” box on the top left:

Click on the “OK” button as shown above.

Once you have done this, another dialog notifies that any dialogs currently open will be closed. Click “OK” once again:

To see the new behavior, check any option that includes a variable list, e.g., click “Analyze” → “Descriptive Statistics” → “Descriptives”:

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

You can now easily search through a list of variables by typing in the first letter of a variable name: SPSS will jump directly to it.

Chapter contributed by Clarine Ovando-LaCroux.