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A guide to getting started with SPSS statistical software

SPSS for statistical analysis

SPSS is a widely used software platform for statistical analysis. It is most popular in social science and education fields, and its ease of use makes it a popular choice for many courses that provide an introduction to quantitative methods.  

This guide is intended to provide a basic overview to the software platform, including the import of datasets from other sources and how to create a codebook to help support research reproducibility. 

Where do I get the software?

There are two computers in The Digital Scholarship Collaboratory (on Mudd 2 in the Library) that have SPSS installed and are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Several of the individual colleges also offer SPSS in their labs and provide free or discounted student licenses for personal laptops. Check in with your home campus IT department for more information. . 

File types

These are the native SPSS file formats, but SPSS can also import from a variety of other statistical packages as well as CSV and Excel files.

Extension Description
.sav Proprietary binary format, with metadata; sections include header, dictionary, and observations
.por Portable file format that saves data and metadata as ASCII text.
.sps Plain-text file format that records SPSS syntax, to recreate analyses.
.spv/.spo Proprietary data formats containing outputs (e.g. tables, charts, visualizations) generated by analytic functions run in SPSS (.spv = v.16 and later; .spo = v.15 and earlier).


Head, Data and Digital Scholarship Services

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Jeanine Finn
Distinctive Collections and Digital Scholarship -
The Claremont Colleges Library
909 607-7958