Graphs

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SPSS enables you to present your data visually in the form of graphs. It is important to note that the variable’s level of measurement determines the type of graph that you should use. Bar charts and pie charts are most frequently used for nominal and ordinal variables. Scale variables are most frequently represented by line charts and histograms.

The following examples use the General Social Survey 2008 database. You can download this database by going to the home page of this site and clicking on the link.

To construct any of the following charts, go to Graphs, Legacy Dialogues, and then click on the type of graph that you want to create.

Construction of Simple Bar Graphs: (nominal or ordinal level variables)

For this example, select Bar. Your screen will look like this:

Next, click on Simple, Summaries for groups of cases, and Define.

For this example, let’s graph the variable “sex”. Click on the variable name and move it to the Category Axis box. In the Bars Represent box, you can decide if you want the number or percentage of respondents that fit that description. In the following example, I selected percentage:

Click OK. Your output should look like this:

Construction of Clustered Bar Graphs: (nominal or ordinal level variables) 

You can construct more complex bar charts. You may choose to graph multiple variables in one bar chart. For example, you may want to graph the variable “happy” and identify how men and women responded to this variable.

Go back to Graphs, Legacy Dialogues. Once again, select Bar at the top of your screen. Next, click on Clustered, Summaries for groups of cases, and Define. Move your variables so that the window looks like this:

Click OK. Your output will look like this:

Construction of Pie Charts: (nominal or ordinal level variables)

Once again, go back to Graphs, Legacy Dialogues. This time, select Pie at the top of your screen. Then click on, Summaries for groups of cases, Define.

Let’s see what the pie chart for the variable “happy” looks like. In the Slices Represent box, determine if you want pie to be divided by the number of people or the percentage of people. For this example I used the number of cases. Click on the variable name “Happy”. Then move your variable into the Define Slice By box. Your screen should look like this:

Click OK. Your output will look like this:

 

Constructing Histograms: (scale level variables)

Histograms have an x axis (variable categories) and a y axis (frequency or percentage). However, unlike bar charts, histograms have contiguous bars.

Once again, go back to Graphs, Legacy Dialogues. This time, select Histogram at the top of your screen.

For this example, I decided to chart the variable “tvhours” from the General Social Survey 2008 database. This variable is the number of hours a day the respondent watches

television.  Select the variable “tvhours” from the list and click on the arrow for the Variable box. Your screen will look like this:

Click OK. Your output should look like this:

Constructing Line Charts: (scale level variables)

Constructing Line graphs is similar to the process that you have used for the other types of graphs. For this example, I decided to chart the variable “tvhours” by the percentage of “sex”. Your screen should look like this:

Click OK. Your output will look like this:

Creative Commons License 

SPSS eTutor by Dee Britton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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