Easy Excel Template for Renaming & Relabeling Multiple Variables in SPSS

Often, I am dealing with a Qualtrics dataset with over a hundred variables. Unfortunately, Qualtrics does not do so well in renaming variables on the site, so I typically just leave the defaults and recode later in SPSS. Using Excel, I have been able to make the process very quick! This has been really helpful for myself and many of my colleagues, so I hope you can find it useful as well!

1. Download the Excel template

You can download the Excel template for recoding here. I’ve kept some of the default variables as they are typically exported in Qualtrics.

2. Get your list of variable names you need recoding

I recommend opening your dataset in SPSS and copying the list of variables in the Variable View (not the Data View) and pasting them into the first line of the Excel template, after the first row.

3. Rename your variables in Excel

In the second column “New Variable Name”, write what you would like to be the new variable name. Note that you cannot have the same name for multiple variables, variables cannot start with a number, and variables are limited to certain characters. You can read more about valid variable names here.

4. (Optional) Add new variable labels in Excel

The default variable labels are generally not that informative or written weirdly. I usually choose to relabel them. You can do that by copy-pasting the original value labels into column C “Original Variable Label” and relabeling them in column D “New Variable Label.” Note that you should not have any apostrophes in your labels or it will mess up in the Syntax!

5. Paste the syntax into SPSS.

Open a new Syntax window in SPSS and copy-paste everything from columns E and D (minus row 1) into that syntax window.

For the renaming variables, your syntax should be:

RENAME VARIABLES V1=ResponseID.
RENAME VARIABLES V2=ResponseSet.
RENAME VARIABLES V3=Name.
RENAME VARIABLES V4=ExternalDataReference.
RENAME VARIABLES V5=Email.
RENAME VARIABLES V6=IPAddress.
RENAME VARIABLES V7=Status.
RENAME VARIABLES V8=StartDate.
RENAME VARIABLES V9=EndDate.
RENAME VARIABLES V10=Finished.
RENAME VARIABLES LocationLatitude=Latitude.
RENAME VARIABLES LocationLongitude=Longitude.
RENAME VARIABLES LocationAccuracy=Accuracy.
EXECUTE.

For the relabeling variables, your syntax should be:

VARIABLE LABELS
ResponseID ‘ID of Respondent’
ResponseSet ‘Response Set’
Name ‘Name’
ExternalDataReference ‘ExternalDataReference’
Email ‘Email’
IPAddress ‘IPAddress’
Status ‘Status’
StartDate ‘StartDate’
EndDate ‘EndDate’
Finished ‘Finished’
Latitude ‘LocationLatitude’
Longitude ‘LocationLongitude’
Accuracy ‘LocationAccuracy’.

Note the period at the end of the last line.

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