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SAS Formats: Making the Best of a Bad Situation

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Michelle Pritchard
The Lewin Group, San Francisco, California

Abstract

A common problem for SAS programmers when working with categorical data is how to utilize SAS format capabilities that associate labels with the values of a variable. It is often hard to decide whether to permanently associate the format with the variable. Sometimes you want to work with the formatted values and sometimes you want to work with the underlying numeric values. Also, this decision could have implications for quality control. Other issues to consider are:

  1. Should the original value be included in the format?
  2. When is it appropriate to reorder categories using formats?
  3. How can format libraries be transferred to other operating systems? and
  4. What issues arise when using formats with SAS/GRAPH?

This paper will discuss these common considerations, with examples, and provide recommendations.

Online materials

A .pdf of the paper can be downloaded from here.