Skip to main content
Michigan State University

SPSS for Beginners: Inputting Data

SPSS Main Screen

I will be providing screenshots on how to input data in SPSS.  These screenshots will be using the SPSS interface for Mac.  The computers on campus with SPSS are PC's.  The main difference between the two interfaces is the location of the Data View/Variable View buttons.  I will explain their functionality below.  Here I have provided screenshots of both interfaces with the buttons circled in red.  

Mac interface:screenshot of spss in mac

PC interface: 

Data View vs Variable View

The Data View and Variable Views are the two screens you will be primarily toggling through.  The Data View is where you input your data, much like an Excel Spreadsheet.  The Variable View lets you edit the characteristics of the variables for which you are entering data.  Here are the two screens: 


Inputing Data in Data View

What confuses many people about inputting data into SPSS is that you cannot enter any data other than numerical data.  For example, if you are asking people what their gender is, you cannot enter 'female,' 'male,' or 'nonbinary.'  Instead you will need to assign numbers for each of these answers.  Another example is yes/no answers.   You can do that in Variable View, which I will cover below.  First, lets look at the fake dataset I've come up with.  The first column is participant ID, the second column whether the participant considers themselves a morning person (yes/no), and the third column is the number of cups of coffee each participant drinks in a day.  Our hypothesis is that morning people drink less coffee than people who are not morning people. Obviously, as it is now, it doesn't make much sense.  

Editing Information in Variable View

To make our data more readable, we need to edit the variables in Variable View, which currently looks like this: 

The two main things we are going to change are the Variable Names and the Values.

Click on the Variable Names (VAR0001, VAR10002, VAR 100003) and change them to Participant_ID, Morning_Person, and Coffee_Per_Day.  The reason I have included underscores is that SPSS does not accept any spaces in the name. It will look like this: 

We can leave the Values on Participant_ID and Coffee_Per_Day as they are because they are numerical.  But we need to change the Values for Morning_Person.  When you click on the Values (None) for Morning_Person, the following pop-up appears:


For the value of 1 you will enter Yes into the Label Box and click add: 


Next do the same for Value 2 equaling No:



When you are done you can click OK.  The box will look like this: 


Now you are ready to go back to Data View.  To see your variable values for Morning_Person, click on the button circled in red and your data will look like this: 

You can toggle that button for viewing the variable values on and off.  You should save your data file in by clicking on the floppy disk (second from the left) in the upper left hand corner.  You are ready to start doing analysis of your data. 

Michigan State University