Please note the assumptions that went into the creation of this document: it is assumed the user has access to SPSS software and has some basic SPSS experience. Also, please note that this procedure is based on Roper Center datasets only and we recommend the use of the SPSS Syntax file over the SPSS Wizard for more satisfying results.
We will focus on “determining the appropriate SPSS Syntax file needed” and “creating the required SPSS Syntax file”.
ASCII data files are often referred to as "text" files or "plain text" files. They contain no formatting information--just rows of characters. The “mapping” information for the characters comes from the codebook discussed in step one above.
Is the ASCII Single Record or Multi-Record?
Refer to the codebook cover page where the number of records per respondent is listed. If this number is “1” the file is a single record file, otherwise it is a multi-record file.
Since no structure is included in an ASCII data file, an SPSS syntax file (also known as a setup file) must be created to instruct the software on where to go to get particular variables (questions).
If running the SPSS syntax file produces errors, follow the error detection process below:
For assistance in identifying areas of a syntax file prone to errors, refer to the contents of the following sections:
If this is your first attempt at writing an SPSS Syntax file, run the file after 1-2 questions to make error identification easier. Once the file is error free you can add additional questions and run the file again, continuing the process until all questions have been included.
The principles outlined here for SPSS apply to SAS and STATA as well. The syntax will be different, but the principles are the same.
Single Record SPSS Syntax File and Dataset Abstract
Multi-Record SPSS Syntax File and Dataset Abstract
Research Technologies at Indiana University (http://www.indiana.edu/~statmath/stat/spss/win/index.html)