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RE: st: Spss vs Stata

From   "Ploutz-Snyder, Robert (JSC-SK)[USRA]" <>
To   "" <>
Subject   RE: st: Spss vs Stata
Date   Wed, 4 Aug 2010 11:08:47 -0500


Again, your clarification hit a nerve that I too was initially frustrated with when I made the shift from SPSS to Stata as my primary package. I did a lot of what you did with SPSS in sharing preliminary results with clients ...minimizing parts of output that they wouldn't understand or appreciate, adding titles, and most importantly--inserting "comments" directly in the output to help them interpret the results.  I also liked that with SPSS you could modify the output itself, so it was fairly easy to direct clients' attention to a certain result in a beta coefficient table, for instance, by using colors or highlighting.

What I do now with Stata, for what it's worth, is simply copy the relevant parts of Stata output into a Word document and supplement that Word document with whatever additional interpretive text that I would have otherwise inserted directly into SPSS output.  True, the Stata "look" is not as "pretty" as SPSS, but I have found that clients can easily understand it without my efforts at reformatting.  I don't go through any trouble to reformat Stata output for this purposes--I merely paste it in and then augment with my own text.  It is, after all, merely sharing some prelim results (in my case at least).

Incidentally, this is also a very handy way to keep track of earlier work so that some time later when you return to a project that's been shelved for a while, you can remember what you did and why.  

In talking with other Stata users, I think a lot of folks rely on the log file to do what I describe here.  That hasn't worked for me personally because I don't usually want to save or share every scrap of a Stata session.  I fool around too much during the analytic process, and I still make too many coding mistakes to want to save (let alone share!) my failed attempts.   But should you go this route, know that you can insert pseudo-comments into your log file merely by typing them in the command window and hitting enter.  Stata will return an error because it has not idea what you are typing, but your words do get into the log file nevertheless!  (I see that Maarten just posted a nice bit of code for this as I type.)

And... FYI... I have been using a dual monitor system for many years, and I find this particularly helpful for exactly this process.  Stata runs on one monitor, while my Word file evolves on the other.  I do the same with SPSS, and it's just as handy when preparing a PPT presentation.  It's a surprisingly big productivity boost over opening/closing multiple windows on a single monitor.  If you are still on a single monitor, it's something to consider.

-----Original Message-----
From: [] On Behalf Of Yves Therriault
Sent: Wednesday, August 04, 2010 10:25 AM
Subject: Re: st: Spss vs Stata

Hello everyone !

Many thanks to Michael and all of those who have replied to my earlier
post. When I raised the issue about Stata output, what I had in mind
was rather how much it is easier to work with SPSS output. It's not
much that SPSS output is "prettier". I didn't mean that I wanted to
rely on Stata to display publication quality tables. After all, I
never pasted a SPSS output directly into a Word document. Perhaps I
wasn't clear enough in my post. English is my second language and I'll
never be as good in written English as I am in written French. When I
write in English, I try to think in English and not merely translate
my ideas from French. So it's possible that, from time to time, I may
not succeed to express my ideas clearly.

As I work in public health surveillance, I often have to distribute
SPSS outputs to colleagues of mine at the Agence de la santé. All I
have to do is to click on the left pane of the output, change the
default title for a meaningful one, hide the details I don't need and,
voilà, the output can be printed and distributed. Sometimes, I work
with the pivot tables (doubleclick on the table itself) when I want to
change the appearance of a particular table.

On the other hand, I understand that people who are very fluent with
Stata syntax prefer to work with user-written routines that are, as
Michael pointed out, ultimately much more powerful and gave the user
more control over the display. Like Robert, I too think that Stata
Corp shouldn't invest much time and efforts into developing an output
as "nice" or "pretty" as SPSS output. I just wish that Stata could
give the user the option to choose a more convenient way to work with
its output. Or a better copy/paste functionality! Should Stata decide
not to offer such an option, I'll do what most other Stata users did,
I'll learn to work with user-written programmes like tabout or estout
; - ). I think the end results are certainly worth the trouble though.
It's just that, as I am in my early fifties, it will probably require
more time and effort to learn Stata from scratch than if I were in my
early thirties ; - ).

Thanks Michael for the links. Moreover, your "Data Management Using
Stata" is the next book about Stata that I have on my list.

Best regards,

Yves Therriault, Ph. D.
Agent de recherche
Surveillance de l'état de santé de la population
Direction de la santé publique (Service en surveillance et évaluation)
Agence de la santé et des services sociaux de la Côte-Nord
Courriel :

2010/8/2 Michael N. Mitchell <>:
> Dear Yves
>  I think that you validly raise an issue where SPSS is more advanced that
> Stata... it has many capabilities with respect to displaying output that
> Stata does not have. The areas that come to my mind are 1) output that is
> formatted in such a way that you can paste it right into a word document, 2)
> pivot tables and such, and 3) the statistical and graphic output is
> integrated together. On the other hand, I think that there is much to like
> about the way that you can work with Stata output that makes it superior to
> Stata. The two areas that come to my mind are...
>  1) You can easily take Stata output and transfer it to LaTeX for creating
> publication quality output. You can see more about this at...
>  2) You can capture the results of Stata commands and store the results as a
> dataset and then summarize the results of many analysis in a very compact
> format. There are many examples of this, one such example is shown here...
>  Even though the SPSS output is "prettier", the Stata method of handling
> output is ultimately more powerful and gives you more control. However, it
> would be nice if the output from Stata could (optionally) be pretty (like
> SPSS) as well as powerful.
>  I hope that helps.... and, welcome to the list!
> Best regards,
> Michael N. Mitchell
> Data Management Using Stata      -
> A Visual Guide to Stata Graphics -
> Stata tidbit of the week         -

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