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The FREQ Procedure

Grouping with Formats

PROC FREQ groups a variable’s values according to its formatted values. If you assign a format to a variable with a FORMAT statement, PROC FREQ formats the variable values before dividing observations into the levels of a frequency or crosstabulation table.

For example, suppose that variable X has the values 1.1, 1.4, 1.7, 2.1, and 2.3. Each of these values appears as a level in the frequency table. If you decide to round each value to a single digit, include the following statement in the PROC FREQ step:

   format X 1.;

Now the table lists the frequency count for formatted level 1 as two and for formatted level 2 as three.

PROC FREQ treats formatted character variables in the same way. The formatted values are used to group the observations into the levels of a frequency table or crosstabulation table. PROC FREQ uses the entire value of a character format to classify an observation.

You can also use the FORMAT statement to assign formats that were created with the FORMAT procedure to the variables. User-written formats determine the number of levels for a variable and provide labels for a table. If you use the same data with different formats, then you can produce frequency counts and statistics for different classifications of the variable values.

When you use PROC FORMAT to create a user-written format that combines missing and nonmissing values into one category, PROC FREQ treats the entire category of formatted values as missing. For example, a questionnaire codes 1 as yes, 2 as no, and 8 as a no answer. The following PROC FORMAT statements create a user-written format:

proc format;
   value Questfmt 1   ='Yes'
                  2   ='No'
                  8,. ='Missing';

When you use a FORMAT statement to assign Questfmt. to a variable, the variable’s frequency table no longer includes a frequency count for the response of 8. You must use the MISSING or MISSPRINT option in the TABLES statement to list the frequency for no answer. The frequency count for this level includes observations with either a value of 8 or a missing value (.).

The frequency or crosstabulation table lists the values of both character and numeric variables in ascending order based on internal (unformatted) variable values unless you change the order with the ORDER= option. To list the values in ascending order by formatted values, use ORDER=FORMATTED in the PROC FREQ statement.

For more information about the FORMAT statement, see SAS Language Reference: Concepts.

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