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What Is the SAS System?

Output Produced by the SAS System

Traditional Output

A SAS program can produce some or all of the following kinds of output:

a SAS data set

contains data values that are stored as a table of observations and variables. It also stores descriptive information about the data set, such as the names and arrangement of variables, the number of observations, and the creation date of the data set. A SAS data set can be temporary or permanent. The examples in this section create the temporary data set WEIGHT_CLUB.

the SAS log

is a record of the SAS statements that you entered and of messages from SAS about the execution of your program. It can appear as a file on disk, a display on your monitor, or a hardcopy listing. The exact appearance of the SAS log varies according to your operating environment and your site. The output in Traditional Output: A SAS Log shows a typical SAS log for the program in this section.

a report or simple listing

ranges from a simple listing of data values to a subset of a large data set or a complex summary report that groups and summarizes data and displays statistics. The appearance of procedure output varies according to your site and the options that you specify in the program, but the output in Displaying the Values in a SAS Data Set and Table of Mean Values for Each Team illustrate typical procedure output. You can also use a DATA step to produce a completely customized report (see Creating Customized Reports).

other SAS files such as catalogs

contain information that cannot be represented as tables of data values. Examples of items that can be stored in SAS catalogs include function key settings, letters that are produced by SAS/FSP software, and displays that are produced by SAS/GRAPH software.

external files or entries in other databases

can be created and updated by SAS programs. SAS/ACCESS software enables you to create and update files that are stored in databases such as Oracle.

Traditional Output: A SAS Log

      real time           0.02 seconds
      cpu time            0.01 seconds
23   options pagesize=60 linesize=80 pageno=1 nodate;
25   data weight_club;
26      input IdNumber 1-4 Name $ 6-24 Team $ StartWeight EndWeight;
27      Loss=StartWeight-EndWeight;
28      datalines;
NOTE: The data set WORK.WEIGHT_CLUB has 5 observations and 6 variables.
NOTE: DATA statement used:
      real time           0.14 seconds
      cpu time            0.07 seconds
34   ;
37   proc tabulate data=weight_club;
38      class team;
39      var StartWeight EndWeight Loss;
40      table team, mean*(StartWeight EndWeight Loss);
41      title 'Mean Starting Weight, Ending Weight,';
42      title2 'and Weight Loss';
43   run;
NOTE: There were 5 observations read from the data set WORK.WEIGHT_CLUB.
      real time           0.18 seconds
      cpu time            0.09 seconds
44   proc printto; run;

Output from the Output Delivery System (ODS)

The Output Delivery System (ODS) enables you to produce output in a variety of formats, such as

The following figure illustrates the concept of output for SAS Version 8.

Model of the Production of ODS Output

[Model of the Production of ODS Output]

The following definitions describe the terms in the preceding figure:


Each procedure that supports ODS and each DATA step produces data, which contains the results (numbers and characters) of the step in a form similar to a SAS data set.

table definition

The table definition is a set of instructions that describes how to format the data. This description includes but is not limited to

  • the order of the columns

  • text and order of column headings

  • formats for data

  • font sizes and font faces

output object

ODS combines formatting instructions with the data to produce an output object. The output object, therefore, contains both the results of the procedure or DATA step and information about how to format the results. An output object has a name, a label, and a path.

Note:   Although many output objects include formatting instructions, not all do. In some cases the output object consists of only the data.  [cautionend]

ODS destinations

An ODS destination specifies a specific type of output. ODS supports a number of destinations, which include the following:


produces output that is formatted for use with Microsoft Word.


produces a SAS data set.


produces traditional SAS output (monospace format).


produces output that is formatted in Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML). You can access the output on the web with your web browser.


produces output that is formatted for a high-resolution printer. An example of this type of output is a PostScript file.

ODS output

ODS output consists of formatted output from any of the ODS destinations.

For more information about ODS output, see Directing SAS Output and the SAS Log and Understanding and Customizing SAS Output: The Output Delivery System (ODS).

For complete information about ODS, see SAS Output Delivery System: User's Guide.

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