To begin the process of adding data, just click on the first cell that is located in the upper left corner of the datasheet. It's just like a spreadsheet. You can enter your data as shown. Enter each datapoint then hit [Enter]. Once you're done with one column of data you can click on the first cell of the next column.

These data are taken from table2.1 in Howell's text. The first column represents "Reaction Time in 100ths of a second" and the second column indicates "Frequency".

If you're entering data for the first time, like the above example, the variable names will be automatically generated (e.g., var00001, var00002,....). They are not very informative. To change these names, click on the variable name button. For example, double click on the "var00001" button. Once you have done that, a dialog box will appear. The simplest option is to change the name to something meaningful. For instance, replace "var00001" in the textbox with "RT" (see figure below).

In addition to changing the variable name one can make changes specific to [Type], [Labels], [Missing Values], and [Column Format].

The next image reflects the variable name change.

Once data has been entered or modified, it is adviseable to save. In fact, save as often as possible [File => SaveAs].

SPSS offers a large number of possible formats, including their own. A list of the available formats can be viewed and selected by clicking on the Save as type: , on the SaveAs dialog box. If your intention is to only work in SPSS, then there may be some benefit to saving in the SPSS(*.sav) format. I assume that this format allows for faster reading and writing of the data file. However, if your data will be analyzed and looked by other packages (e.g., a spreadsheet), it would be adviseable to save in a more universal format (e.g., Excel(*.xls), 1-2-3 Rel 3.0 (*.wk3).

Once the type of file has been selected, enter a filename, minus the extension (e.g., sav, xls). You should also save the file in a meaningful directory, on your harddrive or floppy. That is, for any given project a separate directory should be created. You don't want your data to get mixed-up.

The process of reading already saved data can be painless if the saved format is in the SPSS or a spreadsheet format. All one has to do is,

The process of reading existing files is slightly more involved if the format is ASCII/plain text (see the earlier description of [Freefield] and [Fixed Columns]). As an example, the ASCII data from table2.1 in the Howell text will be used. A file containing the data should be included in the accompanying disk for the text. [Note: It was not present in my disk, so I downloaded the file from Howell's webpage.] I've placed the files on my harddrive at c:\ascdat. In the case of this set of data,there are four columns representing observation number, reaction time, setsize, and the presence or absence of the target stimulus. This information can be found in the readme.txt file that is also on the disk. Typically, we are aware of the contents of our own data files, however, it doesn't hurt to keep a record of the contents of such files.

To make life easier the [File => Read ASCII Data => Freefield] will be used.

The resulting dialog box requires that a File , a Name and a Data Type be specified for each variable, or column of data. The desired file is accessed by clicking on the [Browse] button, and then navigating to the desired location. Since the extension for the sought after file is dat there is no need to change the Files of type: selection. However, if the extension is something else (e.g., *.txt) then it would be necessary to select All files(*.*) from the Files of type: menu. Since there are 4 variables in this data set, 4 names with the corresponding type information must be specified. To Add the first variable, observations, to the list,

(Please explore the various options by clicking on any accessible menu item.)

The resulting data files appears in the data editor like the following.

The next section will cover some descriptive statistics.