Coding editor with SPSS syntax highlighting

March 20th, 2006 andris

I am also writing webpages, and code (X)HTML and PHP by hand. If you code by hand, any code, and also SPSS syntax code, than it is very usefull to have syntax highlighting. Syntax highlighting is a feature of text / code editors that highlights or colourises code. By colourizing code you can very easily recognise types of code.

Recently in the SPPS newsgroup (comp.soft-sys.stat.spss, read it with Google Groups) there has been a discussion or question started by Aldo Cimino on this matter. The answers in the discussion where pointing at the FAQ of where you can find an explanation on using Textpad to edit SPSS syntax. ZEUS Editor also supports adding a new language to their definitions. VIM Editor has a file which supports SPSS Syntax, you could try that one, but the author already mentions it needs updating. Crimson Editor already has a SPSS package ready. If you decide to use one of the mentioned tools, or have other suggestions, please let us know! We would be happy to publish your experiences.

Entry Filed under: 5. Coding SPSS Syntax,Questions and answers


  • 1. Haris  |  May 4th, 2006 at 10:47 am

    Does anyone know if any of the SPSS syntax editors mentioned above have the ability to submit syntax to SPSS program without having to copy and paste? Also, can any of them accept Pasting of syntax from SPSS Data Editor without the intermediate step of SPSS Syntax Editor?

    Much oblidged and Thanks

  • 2. andris  |  May 4th, 2006 at 11:07 am


    Textpad has the ability (after installing the extension mentioned on to submit syntax to SPSS. I don’t have an answer to your second question, and I can’t try, because I am not sure what you mean. Maybe you could try it?


  • 3. espyrian  |  May 19th, 2006 at 12:26 am

    Andris, I believe Haris is referring to the way SPSS can paste underlying code from its dialog box windows to its Syntax Editor. It would be useful if you could press the “Paste” button and have the syntax go straight into TextPad for further editing. However, I don’t think this is possible.

    Haris, as Andris points out, once TextPad is set up correctly, syntax can be submitted from TextPad to SPSS simply by highlighting the code and hitting [CTRL]+1.

  • 4. andris  |  May 19th, 2006 at 8:59 am

    Espyrian, thanks for helping out here. To my knowledge there would be only one way to have something out of the SPSS Syntax Editor pasted directly into any other software, and that is by adjusting SPSS (or the Syntax Editor).

    But IMHO copying from the Syntax Editor and than pasting it into another programme should not be a problem. Have you tried this?

  • 5. Hey  |  August 15th, 2006 at 8:54 am

    I use Texpad as an SPSS editor since one year. I described my experiences in my german language blog:

    Besides: There is an new syntax definition file for Texpad available here:

  • 6. Haris  |  March 26th, 2008 at 4:08 pm

    Does anyone know how to make TextPad work with SPSS 16, now that it does not have RunSyntax.exe anymore?

    Need serious help here!!!

  • 7. Marco  |  April 9th, 2008 at 9:35 am

    Hey Haris! I have the same problem with submitting SPSS syntax via TextPad to SPSS 16! I haven’t got a solution to this problem, but I think it isn’t easy to solve due to the fact that SPSS 16 is completely programmed in Java (all other versions where not!) …

  • 8. Hamish  |  May 4th, 2008 at 12:57 am

    Anyone have any idea how we can get syntax colouring to work in an OS X text editor?

  • 9. Andris  |  May 4th, 2008 at 8:43 am

    Hi Hamish,

    I cannot answer your question. Please try the asking your question at, there are a lot more people active answering questions on SPSS!

  • 10. zeshan  |  October 19th, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    Hi, I would like to know how to enter multiple values for a single variable into the SPSS cookbook and also accordingly into the data file for import. This is for a question within my questionnaire which allows the user to choose more than a single response for a single question. Thks in advance.

  • 11. zeshan  |  October 19th, 2008 at 1:16 pm

    sorry i meant code book not cookbook. workin on a cookbook, sorry for confusion.

  • 12. Tam  |  January 9th, 2009 at 10:40 am

    Hello there!
    I was hoping someone could help me with my syntax problem. Im new to the program, so im sure this can be solved easily!

    I have labeled all my missing values as 99999 (as advised). In my furture calculations, it uses this 99999 as a value. Ideally I want it to read these missing values as a 0, but do not want to change the 99999 value label for later usage.

    Any suggestions? Is there a command I could use for this specific problem?




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