Rules for variable names in SPSS

A Variable name is used to refer to a variable (column of the data matrix) for all commands dealing with data in SPSS.
The following rules apply when creating new variables or changing the name of an existing variable:

  • Variable names must be unique in a Dataset.
  • Variable names are up to 64 characters long and can only contain letters, digits and nonpunctuation characters (except that a period (.) is allowed.
  • Spaces are not allowed in a name (traditionally - if intended - an underscore "_" character is used instead, e.g. trust_in_media, an alternative to this might be capitalisation: TrustInMedia)
  • Upper and lowercase letters are not distinguished. AA, aa, Aa and aA refer to the same variable. SPSS keeps case as it is entered, e.g. "SocialStatus"
  • The first character must be a letter. @, #, or $ are also used, but then for a special purpose (that is beyond this document). It is best to avoid them unless you know exactly what you are doing).