When you’re using SPSS, have you had those moments when you’re endlessly looking for a certain variable, but in a list of 100+ you never seem to do it quickly?  Do not waste time scrolling through your giant database; instead, take this tip from us:

First, remember that SPSS stores your variables with a name (= a code for the variable, which should only be a word) and a label (= an explanation of what your variable is in a whole sentence). Second, whenever you want to do an operation in SPSS (i.e. get descriptive statistics for a variable) the window for this will show a list of the variables that by default presents the labels.  If you point the cursor over this list (anywhere on this list of variables is fine) you can right click the list and choose that you want to see the “names” of these variables.  If you right click again you can indicate that you want to see an “alphabetical sort” of the variables.

 And done!  We suggest looking at variable names because is just a word and is likely that you would know this, plus the alphabetical sorting tends to make more sense with the variable name rather than the code.

Please leave a comment if you think this was useful, and ask a consultant if you have a question using SPSS!