SDA 3.5 Documentation for DESCRIBE


describe - generate a description of a variable


describe -b filename


DESCRIBE displays the text, labels, and a frequency distribution for a variable (provided there are no more than 256 distinct category values). Output from the program is in HTML, which can be viewed with a Web browser.

Ordinarily this program is invoked by the new SDA user interface for viewing a selected variable, and the user does not have to deal with the keywords given in this document. However, it is possible to run the program in batch mode independently of the new interface.

Meaning of the option flag:

-b filename
The name of the batch command file is specified to the program after the ‘-b’ option flag.


The batch command file contains specifications for the analysis. These specifications are given in the form "keyword = something" with one keyword per line. Keywords may be given in any order, either in upper or in lower case. The valid keywords are as follows (with significant characters shown in capital letters):

Keyword       Possible Specification          Default (if no keyword)

STUdy=        path of dataset directory       Look for variables only in
                                                current directory

VAR=          variable name                   REQUIRED

GVARCase=     LOWER or UPPER                  Do not convert the variable
                                                name to lower/upper case

SAvefile=     filename to receive output      Output sent to screen
               (overwrite existing file)       (standard output)

LAnguagefile= Name of file with non-English   English labels on
                labels and messages             output


Basic example

The SDA dataset is in the directory ’/sa/sdatest’. The results will overwrite the file named after the ‘savefile=’ keyword, if the file already exists.

     study = /sa/sdatest
     var = spend
     savefile = mytables.htm

CSM, UC Berkeley
April 12, 2011