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st: length of a variable name

From   Lee Sieswerda <>
To   "Statalist (" <>
Subject   st: length of a variable name
Date   Tue, 15 Jul 2003 18:34:29 -0400

According to -help limits-, the maximum length of a variable name is 80
characters (I use Intercooled Stata 8, but the limit is the same in
Stata/SE). One would think that this would be enough. However, I have a
dataset in SPSS format wherein the variable labels are the full text of a
survey question. This often exceeds the 80 character limit. The longest
variable label in the dataset is 210 characters long.

I am working on this dataset with a number of other people, all of whom use
SPSS, which has a much higher limit. I much prefer Stata, so I always
convert the SPSS dataset to Stata format to work on it. However, the
80-character variable label limit means that when I convert back to SPSS
format and send the altered dataset back to my colleagues, the variable
labels are all truncated at 80 characters (embarassing, as I have been
proselytizing my benighted SPSS-using colleagues for some time). I could
work around this by re-labeling after I convert back to SPSS format, but
with a couple of hundred variables, this is a pain in the neck.

I wonder how much support there would be for increasing the variable label
limit to, say, 244 characters? 

Lee Sieswerda
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