Syntax Code Writing in Statistical Software

It is clear that conducting an analysis of quantitative data using the IBM SPSS software package often requires performing numerous operations so as to compute the statistics for the given data, produce various types of data representation such as histograms, graphs, and scatter plots, conduct transformations of the data, or run statistical tests. In order to carry out these operations, it is possible and often easy to utilize menu selections so as to have the SPSS perform a certain set of actions. However, when working with large sets of data that require repetitive implementation of the same operations, or when dealing with a number of similar sets of data for which the utilization of the same actions is needed, it might be more convenient to use SPSS syntax programs so as to carry out the analyses (Field, 2013).

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While in the past, prior to the creation of the Windows operating system, it was difficult to write a syntax program, this task can be performed in a much simpler manner nowadays. First, a list of the syntax commands which are required for carrying out a certain operation can easily be obtained via the menu selections. To get it, it is necessary to determine the action that is to be carried out by SPSS (for instance, to click Graphs → Legacy dialogs → Histograms, and select the variable for which a histogram is to be created), and click the button “Paste” instead of “OK.”

As a result, the SPSS will open a Syntax window in which the needed syntax code will be displayed. By combining a number of such codes, it is possible to create syntax programs the implementation of which will result in SPSS running the specified operations without the user having to carry out the same series of menu selections many times (George & Mallery, 2016).

Therefore, the production of syntax programs that do not contain numerous errors is rather simple nowadays due to the fact that it is possible to use the “Paste” command in order to display the syntax command that corresponds to the specified menu selection.


Field, A. (2013). Discovering statistics using IBM SPSS statistics (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

George, D., & Mallery, P. (2016). IBM SPSS Statistics 23 step by step: A simple guide and reference (14th ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.

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