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IBM SPSS and Frequencies Command

The Frequencies command is one of the simplest yet one of the most useful descriptive techniques.  Its objective is to simply sum the number of instances within a particular category.

For example, the following questions could be easily answered:

How many males and females make up my data pond?

What are the number of ethnic groups -Whites, Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and others?

Of those who took the final exam how many earned A’s, B’s, C’s, D’s, and F’s?


Using the IBM SPSS Statistics Frequencies command, we can quickly see the following information:

  • Value labels
  • Value Code (the number associated with each level of a variable, e.g., female = 1, male = 2)
  • Frequencies
  • Percent of total for each value
  • The valid percent (percent after missing values are excluded), and
  • The Cumulative percent.
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Let’s look at an example.  Suppose we have a data pond resulting from an online survey. We see that one of the questions in the survey indicates if the respondent is married or not. We might want to use the frequencies command in SPSS to focus on this data point. From the Data Viewer menu, we select:

Analyze > Descriptive Statistics > Frequencies…

Using the Frequencies dialog I can select “Martial Status” from my list of fields and under “Charts” I can indicate that I want my data represented as a pie chart.

SPSS then gives us a standard frequency chart:


And the pie chart we requested as well (although as the frequency chart indicates, the data is pretty even which results in a kind of boring pie):


Ernest Hemingway once said “Every true story ends in death.” Well, this is a true story.  –Brian’s song



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Jim Miller

Mr. Miller is an IBM certified and accomplished Senior Project Leader and Application/System Architect-Developer with over 30 years of extensive applications and system design and development experience. His current role is National FPM Practice Leader. His experience includes BI, Web architecture & design, systems analysis, GUI design and testing, Database modeling and systems analysis, design, and development of Client/Server, Web and Mainframe applications and systems utilizing: Applix TM1 (including TM1 rules, TI, TM1Web and Planning Manager), dynaSight - ArcPlan, ASP, DHTML, XML, IIS, MS Visual Basic and VBA, Visual Studio, PERL, Websuite, MS SQL Server, ORACLE, SYBASE SQL Server, etc. His Responsibilities have included all aspects of Windows and SQL solution development and design including: analysis; GUI (and Web site) design; data modeling; table, screen/form and script development; SQL (and remote stored procedures and triggers) development and testing; test preparation and management and training of programming staff. Other experience includes development of ETL infrastructure such as data transfer automation between mainframe (DB2, Lawson, Great Plains, etc.) systems and client/server SQL server and Web based applications and integration of enterprise applications and data sources. In addition, Mr. Miller has acted as Internet Applications Development Manager responsible for the design, development, QA and delivery of multiple Web Sites including online trading applications, warehouse process control and scheduling systems and administrative and control applications. Mr. Miller also was responsible for the design, development and administration of a Web based financial reporting system for a 450 million dollar organization, reporting directly to the CFO and his executive team. Mr. Miller has also been responsible for managing and directing multiple resources in various management roles including project and team leader, lead developer and applications development director. Specialties Include: Cognos/TM1 Design and Development, Cognos Planning, IBM SPSS and Modeler, OLAP, Visual Basic, SQL Server, Forecasting and Planning; International Application Development, Business Intelligence, Project Development. IBM Certified Developer - Cognos TM1 (perfect score 100% on exam) IBM Certified Business Analyst - Cognos TM1

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