SSCI202 Workshop 1: Introducing SPSS

This first workshop covers the following: 1. Navigating SPSS user interface (data and variable views) 2. How to enter data manually 3. How to save SPSS data files

The first look of SPSS

I assume that you are using computers in the lab. If you are accessing SPSS via AppStream from your local computers, see and follow How to Access SPSS via AppStream.

To start SPSS, 1. Click the Search icon in the taskbar. 2. Type “spss” in the search box. 3. Click IBM SPSS Statistics 25.

You will see your first SPSS window. Just click the button of Close. Then, you are ready for the next step.

How to enter data

Entering id variable (Nominal variable)

id variable is used to identify respondents. Since we have 30 respondents, let’s make id variable for all 30 respondents.

  1. Enter values for id in the first row and start this job in the first column. The value is 1 for this cell. In the next row, the value is 2, and so on.

  1. After finishing to enter 30 for the 30th respondent, we need to define the characteristics of this variable. Click Variable View again.

  2. In Variable View, click the first row of the Decimals column. The default value is 2, which indicate two decimal places. We change this to 0 (no decimal) because id is just a nominal variable.

  1. Add a short description of this variable by entering “Identification number” in the Label column.

  1. SPSS allows three levels of measurement: 1) Nominal, 2) Ordinal, and 3) Scale. Levels of measurement determine the types of statistical methods or graphs. So, assigning an appropriate level of measurement is important. Since id is a nominal variable, we will define id as Nominal. You just click the Measure column for id and change it from Unknown to Nominal.

  1. Go back to the Data View, and check how id variable has been changed (i.e. no decimal).

Entering gender variable (Nominal variable)

gender variable has two categories: Male and Female. For convenience, we assign numerical values to each category. * 0 = Male * 1 = Female1

  1. In Data Editor, enter numerical values that correspon to each gender category under the column of gender.

  1. Set the variable characteristics of gender in Variable View. It should defined as ‘no decimal’, a proper label, and a correct level of measurement.

  1. Then, we are going to assign two categories (Male and Female) to each numerical value. First, click Values for gender. And click the blue shaded square in the cell.

  1. You will see the dialogue box of Value Labels. In the box, 1) type 0 in Value, 2) type Male in Label, and 3) Click Add.

  1. In the same manner, 1) type 1 in Value, 2) type Female in Label, and 3) Click Add. Then your dialogue box should look like the below figure.

  1. Close the dialogue box by clicking OK.

  2. Come back to Data View. Do you see that your gender variable now have letters instead of numbers? If not, go to View at the top menu and tick Value Labels. Enabling the option of value Labels will set SPSS to display value labels instead of numerical values in Data View.

Entering age variable (continuous variable)

  1. In Data View, enter the values of age as in the <Table 1>.

  1. In Variable View, set the Decimals to 0, type Age in the Label column and change the Measure into Scale.

Entering political orientation variable (ordinal variable)

polorient is an ordinal variable with five categories: 1 = Far left, 2 = Left, 3 = Central, 4 = Right, 5 = Far right.

  1. In Data View, enter numerical values corresponding to each category of polorient.

  1. In Variable View, change the Decimals into 0, the Measure into Ordinal. And type “Political Orientation” in the Label.

  1. Next, we will assign the categories (value labels) to the numerical values. As we did for gender, click the blue shaded square in the Value column of polorient. Then, type 1 in Value and Far left in Label. And click Add. In the same way, assign the other four categories to the remaining values. Then you will see the dialogue box like the below figure. And click OK.

Entering social class variable (ordinal variable)

class is is an ordinal-level variable with six categories: 1 = Lower class, 2 = Working class, 3 = Lower middle class, 4 = Middle class, 5 = Upper middle class, 6 = Upper class.

Enter the values of class. The process will be very similar as what you did for polorient. The final data should look like:

How to save your SPSS data file

Now, you are going to save the dataset you created so that you can use it in the next workshop.

  1. Go to File > Save. You will see a dialogue box where you can specify the folder in which your work file is saved. In this workshop, we will save SPSS files in Desktop.

  1. In the popped-up dialogue box, choose Desktop in Look in (this is the location where your file is saved) or wherever you want. Type a file name in File name; I typed Workshop1-HYLee. Then, click Save.


Note: If you are using SPSS via AppStream, save your work files in the folder of Temporary Files. This will make it easier to transfer your work files between AppStream and your local computers (see the details at How to download your work files from AppStream).


  1. you will see the Output1 window confirming that SPSS has saved your file. Check your windows Desktop. You will see the saved file.

In the next workshop, you will use the data file you created. So, I recommend you to send your work file to your email account before you log off and store it in your personal computer.

Last updated on 06 August, 2019 by Dr Hang Young Lee(hangyoung.lee@mq.edu.au)