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Re: st: Renaming variables using foreach

From   Nick Cox <>
Subject   Re: st: Renaming variables using foreach
Date   Tue, 26 Jun 2012 22:45:59 +0100

Working backwards,

0. Your example sounds like a very bad idea. Your variables have names
that mean something; you want instead to impose arbitrary and
meaningless names. I am reminded of learning MINITAB some decades ago
and finding that I could call my columns [sic] anything I wanted so
long as it was something like C1, C2, C3.... (At least that it is what
I recall.)

1. In Stata 12, -rename- is now so versatile that writing your own
-foreach- loop shouldn't be necessary for renaming.

2. Personally, I still tend to reach for -renvars- (SJ) because I
internalised most of the syntax over ten years of using it.

3. What's wrong with your -foreach- loop?

local i = `i' + 1
foreach x of varlist  <whatever> {
         rename `x' var`i'

Evidently local macro -i- was not mentioned before this code. Thus you define

local i = `i' + 1

On the right-hand side you reference a local macro which does not yet
exist. That is OK by Stata. It merely subsitutes the references by
nothing. The expression now reads

local i = +1

which is OK by Stata. It does the arithmetic, +1 evaluates to 1, and
the local macro -i- is born as the string "1". For all the difference
it makes, you could have written

local i "1"


local i = 1

The crucial point is this. You've defined the local macro once, but
once in the loop you never change it. (So, this bites second time
around the loop, when -rename- to -var1- fails because -var1- already

Or, to put it more directly, the local macro (re-)definition belongs
_inside_ the loop, so that the incrementation takes place as you want
(and need).

foreach x of varlist  <whatever> {
         local i = `i' + 1
         rename `x' var`i'


On Tue, Jun 26, 2012 at 10:20 PM, Suryadipta Roy <> wrote:

> I am currently learning looping in Stata and is stuck with the
> following problem: I have about 150 variables that I want to rename as
> var1 var2, etc.. upto var 150. I tried the following:
> local i = `i' + 1
> foreach x of varlist  Agricultural_raw_materials_expor -
> Value_lost_due_to_electrical_out  {
> 2. rename `x' var`i'
> 3. }
> I am getting the following error message:
> var1 already defined
> r(110);
> I find that only the first variable is renamed as "var1" and then the
> loop stopped running. Any help is greatly appreciated.

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