Difference between fixed fields & free-format data

We have posted two blog posts on how to access data on SAS but in this post, we will elaborate in details the main difference between raw data in fixed fields and free-format data.

The first and second table show the example of a fixed field data, meaning each data point has dedicated column assigned to it – for instance, NAME variable is assigned to column 4-10. Each variable has designated column assigned therefore making it easier for us to read the data observations.


Screen Shot 2018-01-02 at 1.57.39 PM

RAW DATA IN FIXED-FIELDS / COLUMNS – <NON-STANDARD DATA>Screen Shot 2018-01-02 at 1.57.46 PM
The only difference between first and second table is the special character of the $ (dollar) sign. If any numeric data contains special characters, date & time, binary, fraction – then it is considered as non-standard numeric data.



Screen Shot 2018-01-02 at 1.57.53 PM

The third table shows the example of a free-format data as there is no dedicated column assigned to each data point. Each row can end at different column input – for instance, ID 01 ends at column 13 and ID 02 ends at column 12.

Since the data does not contain special characters, we can classify it as non-standard dataset.


Categories: SAS Learning

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