SPSS: Data Editor: Entering Data

While in the data editor window, you can type in the data.

Here are some guidelines to remember.

Entering Data

Entering Numeric Data

Entering numeric data is easy. Just enter the number and move to another cell.

The TAB key will move to the cell to the right. The ENTER key will move to the next observation (row).

Entering Non-Numeric Data

You must define your variable before entering any non-numeric data. Once the variable has been defined, you may enter the values into the cells.

Using Defined Value Labels

Make sure that the display of value labels is enabled. Choose "View" from the menu and check "Value Labels". Alternatively, there is an icon on the toolbar for value labels.

Hold the control key down and click the left mouse button on the cell to contain the data. A list of possible responses will appear.

Double click on the appropriate response and the value will be recorded.

As an alternative to control-click, you may click the right mouse button, choose "Pick from labels", and then double click on the appropriate response. The control-click should be easier and faster.


The defined variable type and width determine the type of value that can be entered into a cell.

Editing Data

The easiest way to edit data is simply to go to the appropriate cell and retype the value. The old value will be replaced with the new one.

You can also highlight a cell and then click in the cell editor at the top (where the value was displayed). Make changes and when you press enter or move to another cell, the value is accepted.

For those of you who are used to spreadsheets, pressing the F2 key will place you into the cell editor.

Cut / Copy / Paste

You can highlight cells and use the Cut, Copy, or Paste commands to edit data.

The standard Windows shortcuts work. Control-x for cut, control-c for copy, and control-v for paste. If you would rather use the mouse, highlight the cells and click the right mouse button to choose your edit command. There are no cut, copy, and paste icons on the toolbar like in most Windows packages.

You do need to be careful when pasting information. SPSS will only paste information into cells that are highlighted. Let's say that you highlight the entire first row by clicking on the row heading and hit copy.

Then you move to the second row but only highlight the "single", "married", and "divorced" cells. When you hit paste, you get the following.

Only the cells that were highlighted had values pasted into them. The other cells had the system-missing value (period) placed into them.

This may sound weird if you're used to a normal spreadsheet where you only have to highlight the first cell on a paste and it will paste the entire block starting there. However, this is useful for statistics because you only need to duplicate (paste) the cells that are the same. The other cells can then have values entered into them normally.

Inserting New Cases

Adding new cases to the end of your data is easy. Just move to that row and put in the information. All other values in that row will become system-missing values.

However, if you want to insert a case between two existing cases, you need to use the "Insert Case" command. Highlight any cell in the row below where you want the case inserted and choose "Insert Case" from the "Data" menu. Alternatively, you may highlight the entire row below where you want the case inserted by clicking on the row number to the left. Click the right mouse button and choose "Insert Case".

There is an "Insert Case" icon on the toolbar.

Inserting New Variables

Adding new variables to the end of your data is easy. Just move to that column and define a variable as normal.

However, if you want to insert a variable between two existing variables, you need to use the "Insert Variable" command. Highlight any cell to the immediate right of where you want the variable inserted. Then go the "Data" menu and choose "Insert Variable". Alternatively, you may highlight the entire column to the right of the insertion point by clicking the variable name at the top of the column. Then click the right mouse button and choose "Insert Variable".

There is an "Insert Variable" icon on the toolbar.

Moving Variables

To move variables, you have to be a little bit tricky (and careful).

If you choose cut / paste but the entire column is not selected, the formatting and data types will not be kept. If you highlight the entire column, then the formatting and data types will be kept.

Goto Case

This command will take you to the specified row of the data. From the "Data" menu, choose "Go to Case...". There is also an icon on the toolbar.