Custom Lists Overview

Custom lists can be displayed and customized on the Custom Lists tab of the Options dialog box. They are used when a spreadsheet operation implies that you want to extrapolate sequences of data. This is best illustrated in an example.

Suppose you create a data file with 1,000 cases, and you want to place into the first column the names of 8 months of the year and a custom name, to account for a break during the summer months. In other words, you want to enter the labels: January, February, March, April, SummerBreak, September, October, November, and December into the spreadsheet. Note how the summer months May, June, July, and August were skipped, and replaced by the single label SummerBreak. Your goal is to enter this sequence (always skipping May, June, July, August) repeatedly into the consecutive cases for the first column of the data file. You can do this very quickly by using the extrapolation tools of the spreadsheet editor, after defining this specific sequence of months (plus the custom label) as a custom sequence.

Start by creating a new data file with 1,000 cases and, for example, 2 variables. Let's call the first variable Academic Semester Months.

Next display the Options dialog box (select Options on the Tools tab or menu), and select the Custom Lists tab. In the Custom lists box, select NEW LIST; in the List entries box, type in the custom list of months (plus the custom label) as shown below.

Now click the Add button to finalize this list, and all labels will be moved to the Custom lists box.

Close this dialog box (click the OK button) and go back to the new data spreadsheet. Type in the new labels as you entered them into the Custom Lists tab, i.e., type in the data for the first 9 cases (8 names of months and one custom label; of course you could also copy those labels from the List entries field shown above and paste them into the first 9 cases of the data file). Next select all 9 cases, and while holding down the mouse button on the lower-right corner of the selected block of data, drag the cursor all the way to the end of the data. This is the standard spreadsheet method of extrapolating ranges across consecutive cases (see also the spreadsheet editor help).

Now, when you release the mouse button, this (custom) sequence of months will be extrapolated over the entire data file.

Any kind of custom sequence can be specified and stored via the Custom Lists tab of the Options dialog box. Thus, this option is extremely useful for quickly specifying recurring sequences of text labels that you want to extrapolate over many data points (as illustrated in the example).